The country of Switzerland is best known around the world for being a neutral country. It has not taken a side in any foreign conflict since it became neutral in 1815, which makes it a very safe place in the eyes of both residents and investors. And that neutrality carries over into the way that debt collection is conducted in Switzerland.
Over the years, we have looked at how to conduct international debt collections in many different countries, and some are more difficult to work with than others. As you might expect, Switzerland falls somewhere in the middle. But provided you have the evidence to back up your claim, conducting a debt here should not be a problem.
Hiring a Collection Agency that Has Collected in Switzerland Before
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of success in collecting a debt from a client in Switzerland is to hire an international debt collection that has done business there before. This isn’t necessarily required, but it will give you a team that has a solid working knowledge of how things operate within the country. Having an experienced collection team will also give you more connections should you need to hire an attorney to pursue legal action in the Swiss courts.
Contacting the Debtor
As with any debt collection attempt, the first step in attempting to collect an international debt from someone in Switzerland is to establish contact informing them that an arrangement needs to be made. Like many of the foreign countries we have talked about, as long as you are following procedures that would be acceptable here in the United States, you should be fine to operate in the same way when collecting in Switzerland.
If you are able to get into contact with the debtor and establish a plan to repay the debt, everything should be fine. But we all know that things rarely go that smoothly when dealing with international debt collections.
Preparing Documentation for the Swiss Court
Similar to the way that domestic debtors can ask for you to prove that a debt is legitimate, Swiss debtors have the ability to file a “formal objection” regarding the debt you are attempting to collect.
Once this objection is filed, you will need to provide the Swiss courts with proof of the debt. The most common option here is to produce a document signed by the debtor that acknowledges the debt, which means that you better be on top of your paperwork and record keeping from the minute you start issuing credit to customers.
Taking Legal Action
If you are unable to resolve an outstanding debt on your own, you may need to consider taking legal action. The Swiss courts are well-structured and are typically fair to both creditors and debtors. As long as you have proper documentation of the debt, you should have no problem getting a decision in your favor.
Once a decision is made in your favor, the courts have the power to seize assets from the debtor, force the debtor to sell assets in order to pay you, and they can even force the debtor to file bankruptcy. Once again, having a debt collection agency that has experience in working with the Swiss courts can provide critical advice for you on which options will be best for your business.
International debt collection is never as easy as we would like it to be, but with the help of a commercial debt collection agency, you can offload that burden to someone else and remain focused on running your business. Because at the end of the day, that is what matters most.