Don’t let your unpaid invoices expire

| Annelien Maurissen

We are often asked whether an unpaid invoice can still be recovered. After all, unpaid invoices do not remain payable forever. The limitation period of invoices ensures that you cannot go to your customers for unlimited time to receive your money. But how does this principle work?

Help, can my invoice expire?

Limitation is a legal principle that can apply to contractual relationships, penalties, crimes, liability, claims, etc. It ensures that, after a statutory period, one is ‘released’ or obtains something from the commitment. In this article we will take a closer look at the limitation period of unpaid invoices.


Limitation periods

The limitation period once again underlines the importance of following up unpaid invoices. If you do not do this, it could well be that your invoice has expired and that it can no longer be collected. When an invoice expired, you, as a creditor, lose the opportunity to claim your invoice in court.

In a professional relationship, claims expire after ten years. For periodic debts, claimable under an agreement, this term is only five years. Invoices to consumers can no longer be collected after one year. However, there are many exceptions to this.


Invoke limitation period

Once the limitation period has expired, this invoice does not have to be paid form a legal point of view. The limitation period is not automatically applied. The debtor must invoke this himself. As long as this does not happen, you as a creditor can continue to insist on payment of your outstanding invoice.

When the dispute is brought to court, the judge cannot invoke it ex officio immediately after checking the conditions, i.e., whether or not the statutory period has expired. The debtor must invoke the statute of limitations as a defense. As a creditor you can no longer collect the payment, since the legal term has expired. In this case we are talking about a ‘liberating limitation’. After all, the debtor is ‘released’ from the obligation to pay.


Prevent statute of limitation

The limitation period can be suspended, i.e., the period has temporarily been put on pause. This happens, for example, when a judicial mediation procedure is in progress. As soon as a solution is found for the dispute, the limitation period continues for the remaining period.

In addition, the limitation period can also be interrupted. This means that the limitation period starts again from zero. This happens when your customer has signed an acknowledgement of guilt, a judicial officer served a document or your customer has been summoned to court. For example, if you have forwarded your unpaid invoice via our web application and the judicial officer has served the reminder to pay, the limitation period has been interrupted.


First aid for unpaid bills

The golden tip here, however, is to certainly not let it get that far. Follow up unpaid invoices in a timely manner and forward them via our web application when they remain unpaid. We are ready with the necessary help to get your invoices paid as quickly as possible.