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I started freelancing for a UK client, myself being based in the Czech Republic, about a year ago. I stopped working for them in April, after not having been paid for five months. This is specialized software consulting and the sum is substantial. My contract says I will not be paid 'if no services are provided'. They have agreed to pay for December, but for January-April they claim no services were provided, but refuse to go into detail. I can prove through communications that I provided services as requested during that time, received positive feedback, and was promised full compensation.

The CEO, who I reported to, is a pathological liar, and made up lies about family tragedy to distract me when I used to ask for payment. Now he is asking that I provide an account of each of the 22 days of each month for him to consider payment. I cannot do this honestly, because this is months ago, I have been locked out of systems, and when I was paid before, no such reporting was required. I hired a solicitor locally to help me, but he hasn't made any progress (or to be precise, there has been progress in the clients demands getting more and more impossible to meet), and sees the clients' "show me what you did every day and I might consider payment" as the options we have (he has not replied to me regarding what his strategy is, or what he is willing to do without it incurring extra cost, but it seems to be referring to my contract, but not referencing law or the supporting materials I have).

The client cannot show any evidence that I provided unsatisfactory services or none at all (and he has not even specified which it is) from the time before I stopped working there, only stuff that he is now making up to avoid payment. I feel like I might have hired this solicitor out of desperation and without researching things enough by myself, and without many options where I am located. What does this look like to more experienced freelancers, and what would be the resources and options I should be looking into at this stage?

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If you have an unpaid invoice under GBP £5000, then you can use the UK courts 'small claims services' It will cost money , but a refusal to pay after such a claim will be recorded at Companies House in UK and reflect on their annual public reports. Note you need advice on this. I threatened many years ago to use this against a company and it brought payment somewhat rapidly thereafter. I then changed to make sure I never issued any invoice for a sum above GBP £5,000.00 Putting in my terms that all amounts must be paid fortnightly. "within 15 days of invoice date" You need legal advice on this so do get it before using. There may be some on small debts services site : https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money. I hope this helps.

  • Thanks, but what I'm owed is over 5k, under 50k. – fforeigner Jun 23 at 15:31
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I feel with you as I had this once fortunately with a lower sum.

There is a European Enforcement Order to fulfil cross-border claims:

https://e-justice.europa.eu/content_european_enforcement_order-54-en.do?init=true

When I had the case I asked a German lawyer for advice and he told me for the amount ( < 5000k) it was not worth to do it as the costs would be higher than the potential to gain anything, but the lawyer told me a good way to put pressure is instead of going to court for the money I should go to court for fraud. This has the target to make the person you are in contact with directly responsible and he can go personally to jail or pay personally a certain sum. When I told my contact that after legal advice I was going to do this if he would not pay within a week he was suddenly prepaired to discuss. I did not get the full amount but at least a part.

I think both ways are possible but as eionmac pointed out companies are more open if thes have a real judicial case on the table.

A good contact is also the chamber of commerce who supports companies who have problems in international trade.

Good luck!

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