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I have the same story as this, but I do have time logs in google docs like:

enter image description here

an NDA signed by me (don't have a copy signed by the other party, though) + email correspondence.

We had the project back in 2013, so it's 2.5 years. The customer is of Finnish origin, but resides in Canada. At least the NDA had been signed between us and a Canadian entity from Vancouver, BC. Two unpaid paypal invoices for $2775 + $2499. Is there any chances/ways to get it? What are they? I'm willing to sell it to collections or anyone else with a significant discount, but would anyone be interested or there is no chances at all after 2.5 yrs?

  • Get a lawyer & send an official letter. Or contact the client & mention you'll get this to an agency for collection & prefer to give them a least a chance to pay their invoice before doing this step that might affect their credit. Not sure if collection will buy the debt. Either ways, you'll probably need to use an agency. You might have some chances of being paid but it's very bad you've let this go on for so long. A company has the responsibility to get paid. In court, you could be seen as having been irresponsible. Is there another firm between you&client? And are you canadian too? – go-junta Oct 13 '15 at 21:52
  • Apparently, 2.5 years old is not too old to be sold to a collection agency. There's a market for these and it might even be resold to another agency lower. You should simply contact one, but I'd contact the client (and other firm if any) first. Involve as many people as you can, including third party if any. You can also send a registered official letter, you can get it approved by a lawyer first but it's not necessary and it's as official. It just look a bit more scary when a lawyer sends it! Not to patronize, but next time send invoices at the amount you're ok to lose. 2-5k is a lot! – go-junta Oct 13 '15 at 21:58
  • @go-meek: no, I'm not Canadian, I'm located in EU. That's a big issue. No other intermediary. However, as I said, there was no contract, but only NDA + emails – Alexey Oct 14 '15 at 14:03
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The email chain can be used as proof of agreement as long as it's clear that an offer is being made, and the other party accepted the offer. So for example if you sent a price quote along with a detailed list of what you'd be doing, and the customer responded back clearly agreeing to the terms - that's likely a binding contract.

There's nuances and arguments to be made for both sides, in both Canadian and EU law - but contract law is pretty standardized in general (in western/magna carta/rule-of-law type countries).

For this case, sell it to a debt collection agency/lawfirm for a loss and move on with business. And for future cases, always minimize your downside risk. Up front payments should required for new relationships... make your clients establish a credit rating with you before loan them a bunch of your money. #timeismoney

  • if I (theoretically) share the email chain with project discussion with the collection agency, do I violate the NDA? – Alexey Oct 17 '15 at 5:28
  • That's interesting... I've thankfully never had to consider that. You might need to redact sensitive/proprietary stuff in the email chain, but still leave enough information (i.e. the line items of work you proposed) so the offer & acceptance remains clear. – Benjamin Love Oct 17 '15 at 14:47
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In the UK a solicitors action letter is quite cheap, it may be so in Europe too. OR Use the UK one for this case - worth asking.

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Your options seem clear to me......

  • Forget it
  • Pester the client hoping they'll grow weary and eventually pay
  • Hire a collection agency
  • Sue the client

Only you can determine the course which is correct for you.

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