Debt Collection in Albania

Practical Guide

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Is there a minimum amount to start legal action?

In Albania, there is no specified minimum amount stipulated by law to commence legal action. However, while there is no statutory threshold, it's essential to consider the practical implications from an economic perspective.

It's crucial to note that while there might not be a specific minimum amount, the economic viability of pursuing a case could be influenced significantly by the costs involved. Court fees and legal expenses can accumulate and may not be proportionate to smaller claims, rendering the pursuit of such claims financially burdensome for the plaintiff.

Moreover, according to the Albanian Procedural Civil Code, taxes on documents, court costs, and lawyer remuneration (if any), initially borne by the plaintiff, may be shifted to the defendant if the court accepts part of the plaintiff's claim. This provision serves to alleviate some of the financial burden on the plaintiff, should the court favorably rule on a portion of the claim.

Therefore, while there is no legally stipulated minimum amount for initiating legal proceedings in Albania, the practical considerations regarding the economic feasibility, encompassing court fees and lawyer expenses, should be carefully evaluated before commencing legal action, especially for smaller claims. The shifting of costs, as per the court's decision on the claim, provides some relief, yet the overall economic viability remains a crucial factor in deciding whether to pursue legal action.

Will the amount due condition the type of procedure?

In Albania, the nature or type of the legal procedure for debt collection is not contingent upon the specific amount owed.

The legal proceedings concerning the collection of a default debt are delineated within the Albanian Civil Procedure Code. This procedural pathway may involve a singular phase or, commonly, unfold across two distinct phases, contingent upon the origin of the unfulfilled obligation, whether it possesses an executive title or not.

Executive titles, explicitly defined by law, encompass:

  • conclusive court judgments for monetary obligations, whether civil, criminal, arbitration-based, or issued by a foreign court, duly recognized by the Albanian state;
  • notarial acts stipulating a cash obligation, bank loan agreements, and financial institution loan accords (excluding banks);
  • bills of exchange, checks, and relevant instruments along with applicable directives;
  • other deeds specified as executive titles under specific laws.

In the event:

  • the relevant debt’s title subject to collection is an executive title, the procedure encompasses a single phase, namely, compulsory execution conducted by the bailiff’s office. This process initiates with the court issuing an execution order and progresses to conservative seizure of the debtor's property or bank account;
  • the debt's title slated for collection does not qualify as an executive title, the debt collection process unfolds in two phases. Initially, the submission of a claim to the court for debt acknowledgment and directive ordering the debtor to fulfill the payment occurs. Upon the court's acceptance of the claim through the issuance of a final decision—constituting an executive title—the subsequent phase involves compulsory execution by the bailiff’s office, akin to the previously described phase.

Please note, that this formalized explanation adheres to the outlined legal requisites and procedural delineations applicable to debt collection within Albania.

Is it mandatory to send a warning letter before taking legal action to collect a debt?

As per Albanian law, a debtor enters default status after a written notification unless:

  1. the debtor explicitly states in written form their refusal to execute the obligation;
  2. the deadline for fulfilling the payment has transpired;
  3. the monetary obligation arises from an unlawful act.

The commencement of a debt collection procedure in Albania necessitates several prerequisites.

Primarily, a monetary obligation between a creditor and a debtor must exist, either established through an agreement between the parties, whether written or verbal, or mandated by law. Subsequently, the debtor should have failed to fulfill their monetary obligation to the creditor correctly. Lastly, the debtor should be in default, implying a failure to meet the monetary obligation within the stipulated time frame.

In adherence to the prevailing laws, a creditor possesses specific entitlements when pursuing a default debtor through the debt collection procedure. The creditor reserves the right to demand from the default debtor the fulfillment of the monetary obligation, accrued interests from the day of default, and compensation for any resultant damages.

What are the best practices for creditors to increase the possibility of recovering the debt?

Before entering into any commercial relationship, it is advisable to conduct due diligence on the prospective debtor. Assess their financial status, creditworthiness, and past payment behaviors to gauge their reliability in meeting financial obligations.

Formal Agreements: Prioritize the establishment of formal agreements for all transactions or services provided. Contracts should explicitly outline payment terms, deadlines, interest on overdue amounts, and consequences for non-payment.

Accurate Financial Invoices: Provide accurate and comprehensive financial invoices for all transactions, ensuring they are signed or accepted by the debtor. Clear and properly documented invoices serve as crucial evidence in debt recovery processes.

Timely Communication: Initiate communication with debtors immediately upon the occurrence of overdue payments. Timely reminders, supported by clear documentation, can often expedite resolution without escalating to legal measures.

Professional Legal Support: Engage the services of experienced legal professionals or debt collection agencies in Albania. Legal guidance can significantly improve the efficiency of debt recovery efforts.

Negotiation and Settlement Strategies: Explore negotiation and settlement options with the debtor before pursuing legal action. Flexible payment plans or alternative settlement arrangements might facilitate smoother debt resolution.

By diligently adhering to these best practices, including thorough due diligence, formal documentation, and consistent communication, creditors can significantly enhance their chances of successful debt recovery within the framework of Albanian laws and regulations.

How can a foreign creditor start a procedure for international debt collection in Albania?

Foreign creditors embarking on debt collection in Albania should prioritize seeking legal counsel from established Albanian lawyers or law firms specializing in international debt collection. These legal experts possess in-depth knowledge of local laws and procedures related to debt recovery.

Before commencing legal action, it's crucial to ascertain the jurisdiction and applicable law concerning the debt collection process.

Lawyers play a pivotal role by guiding creditors through legal requirements and procedures specific to Albanian courts. For lawyers to act on behalf of the creditor, a valid power of attorney is essential. This document should be signed before a notary public. If signed abroad, it requires either an apostille stamp (if the country is part of the Hague Convention) or legalization to ensure its validity for use in Albania.

Initiating legal action involves filing a claim in the appropriate Albanian court. It's imperative to adhere to Albanian legal requirements by submitting all necessary documentation and evidence supporting the claim. All foreign documents and evidence should be translated into Albanian and presented in their original format or as notarized copies.

The above-mentioned comprehensive approach ensures compliance with local laws, facilitates smooth legal proceedings, and enhances the prospects of successful debt recovery.

What happens after the first demand for payment?

Following the issuance of the initial demand for payment, the subsequent actions can vary depending on the response or actions taken by the debtor. Typically, after the initial demand for payment in:

Out-of-court proceedings:

Upon the debtor's acknowledgment of the debt and willingness to settle, both parties may opt to resolve the outstanding amount through a mutually agreed-upon payment plan. Such an agreement, when formalized in the presence of a notary public as a debt acknowledgment statement, holds legal weight as an executive title. This document serves as a formal recognition of the debt and streamlines potential future enforcement measures.

In out-of-court debt collection, negotiations or proposals for alternative settlements may arise, aiming to achieve a consensus between the parties. This could involve negotiating a payment schedule, considering a reduced settlement amount, or exploring alternative arrangements to resolve the outstanding debt. Notably, the existence of remedies for non-performance, such as mortgages, pledges, or liens, presents avenues for the creditor to pursue debt recovery through compulsory execution against the debtor's property or that of a third party, enhancing the creditor's ability to recover the debt.

Court proceedings:

Should the debtor fail to respond to the initial demand or dispute the debt, escalation might become necessary. The creditor may opt to issue subsequent formal notices or proceed to initiate legal action for debt recovery through the appropriate Albanian court.

Initiating legal action entails filing a claim in compliance with the legal procedures outlined in Albanian legislation for debt collection. This process necessitates the presentation of evidence supporting the claim and adherence to the Albanian legislation in force.

In the event of a favorable court decision in favor of the creditor, enforcement measures become viable to recover the debt through the Bailiffs Officers. These measures could involve asset seizure, freezing of bank accounts, or other court-sanctioned actions aimed at compelling the debtor to fulfill their payment obligation.

It is imperative to adhere to the legal frameworks and procedures delineated within Albanian legislation for debt collection.    

Can interim measures be taken?

Under Article 202 and the following articles of the Albanian Procedural Code, provisions outline the circumstances allowing the plaintiff to seek pre-action interim remedies when concerns arise regarding the potential impediments to enforcing a court decision safeguarding their rights.

The court is empowered to grant pre-action interim remedies when specific criteria are met:

  • the plaintiff's legal claim (lawsuit) is supported by written evidence
  • the plaintiff provides guarantees, in the amount and type specified by the court, for the potential damage that might be caused to the defendant by the court's injunction measures.

These pre-action interim remedies comprise:

  • seizure of Debtor's Assets
  • other Court-Determined Measures. The court retains discretion to implement other appropriate measures, including the suspension of execution.

If, for any reason, the recovery was not possible, is there any other action that the creditor could take to write off such debt in their accountancy?

In Albania, when the recovery of a debt becomes impossible, creditors have options to address this situation in their accounting practices. This includes the possibility of writing off the uncollectible debt as a bad debt in their accounting records. This action involves acknowledging the debt as uncollectible, removing it from the accounts, and reflecting the incurred loss. It's crucial to comply with accounting standards and regulatory requirements when making such adjustments. Compliance with these standards ensures accuracy and transparency in financial reporting.

Moreover, seeking financial consultations and guidance on this matter is highly recommended. Professionals, such as accountants or financial advisors, can provide valuable insights and assistance in navigating the proper accounting treatment of uncollectible debts, considering both financial and regulatory implications.

Which documents are necessary for debt collection in Albania?

To start debt recovery in Albania, it would be necessary to provide:

  • copies of the agreements or contracts establishing the debt. These documents outline the terms, conditions, and obligations agreed upon by the creditor and debtor
  • detailed and accurate invoices along with payment records are crucial evidence supporting the debt claim
  • any written communication related to the debt, including letters, emails, or notices exchanged between the parties
  • documentation proving the delivery of goods or completion of services, such as shipping receipts, delivery confirmations, or service completion certificates, validates the fulfillment of obligations by the creditor
  • if the creditor is represented by legal counsel, a valid power of attorney empowering the lawyer to act on behalf of the creditor is essential. This document should be signed before a notary public and may require authentication or legalization if signed abroad
  • for any foreign-language documents, including agreements or evidence, translations into Albanian are necessary. This ensures clarity and understanding within the Albanian legal system
  • documentation demonstrating the debtor's default or failure to make payments, such as overdue notices, written refusals to pay, or records indicating missed payment deadlines, strengthens the creditor's case
  • if documents originate from foreign jurisdictions, notarization or apostille certification might be necessary to validate their authenticity and ensure their acceptance

Reviewing the legal documents pertinent to the debt is a crucial step in preparing for potential legal action against a debtor. These documents serve as evidence to establish the debtor's non-compliance or default, forming the foundation for initiating legal proceedings.

These documents must undergo a thorough examination by legal counsel beforehand. This review aims to ascertain their sufficiency and strength in substantiating the debt claim and supporting the initiation of legal procedures.

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