Debt Collection in Portugal
When you have to recover debts in Portugal you must be aware of the phases required by the law, in the correct order and before the competent authority for each step.
The first step consists in sending to the debtor several demand letters that include your identification information, the amount of the debt, the period in which he/she must pay the debt and the further procedure which may be taken when the claim is not fulfilled.
The debtor has 10 days to answer your letters. When the debtor’s financial status does not permit to pay the entire debt at once, but he is willing to pay it, you may agree on installment payments in a certain period and amount. In this sense, you must draw up an agreement document which must be signed by both parties.
What to do after demand letters
When the debtor does not answer your demand letters, you may bring the case before the competent authority and when the debt does not exceed EUR 51,000, the National Payment Order will issue an enforceable document which will be sent to the debtor and oblige him to pay the debt within 15 days.
The debtor has the right to fill an appeal against this document, situation in which the case is turned into a regular lawsuit. This also happens when the simplified procedure fails (the debtor does not pay the debt).
The debt case in front of the local court
The creditor has to bring the case before the competent court, authority which will summon both parties to a court hearing. Before the court hearing the parties must provide all the required information in order to draw up the judgment file and to hold an oral proceeding.
In the court hearing the parties bring evidence to sustain the case and, on the basis of documentation and statements (in some conditions witness may be brought to make statements) and by applying the law, the judge schedules a day to pronounce the decision. Both parties will be informed in written about the decision issued by the court.
After the decision is issued, when this is taken in the creditor’s favor, he has the right to take further measures in order to recover the debt.
In this sense, the debtor’s assets will be attached and then seized and finally sold to pay the debt. The court decision is an enforceable document and you may take these further procedures immediately. A bailiff will be in charge for the compulsory measures which will be further applied. The bailiff will draw up a list with the debtor’s assets and will organize the selling procedure of the movable and immovable goods, as provided by the law. The debtor will no longer take advantage of his goods until the debt is completely fulfilled.