Taking legal action for a breach of contract or non-payment of invoices
is something we hope you won't have to do, but sometimes you need to defend your rights as a freelancer. Just like taxes, laws change from country to country, so researching your legal circumstances is a must.
Contacting a debt collection agency or hiring a lawyer to send a formal letter to the troublesome client can resolve the issue without involving a court. If those fail, you can contact courts which deal with smaller claims - for example, the Country Courts in England, or the Sheriff's Court in Scotland. Submitting a small claim will allow for a simpler and more accessible process, where a lawyer might not be necessary.
If you need to resort to a lawyer, the main thing to keep in mind is your expenses: if you want to get a payment for $1000 cleared, but the lawyer's fee will be over $5000, it is just not worth pursuing litigation.
Taking legal action is usually the most extreme course of action, but it can be the most effective. Contacting a lawyer for advice and knowing your budget are the most important steps. If you live in Belgium, you'll find plenty of free legal resources in our blog