Thursday 16th January 2014, Malta – The European Commission, in collaboration with the Malta Business Bureau, held a business seminar aimed at the European business community at large.
The aim was to inform participants on the EU’s measures in facilitating cross border business and cross border debt recovery in the single market. The event was held as part of a European Commission campaign to help SMEs recover debts across borders. The campaign aims to inform SMEs on how to take advantage of existing laws and tools in order to more easily and successfully pursue debtors in other countries.
Introducing the event, Martin Bugelli, Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta emphasised the crucial importance of keeping stakeholders informed about developments within the single market. “Raising adequate awareness of the restrictions and freedoms of the business environment is vital to ensure that enterprises are able to make the most of the single market environment,” he told the audience.
George Vella, President of the Malta Business Bureau, gave an insight into the European Commission’s initiatives aimed at facilitating cross border debt recovery in the single market. Mr. Vella stressed, “Cross border debt recovery has consistently been rated as one of the biggest challenges for enterprises in Europe, limiting micro-economic growth through the creations of cash flow obstacles.”
A presentation on pre-contractual issues and contract design was given by Hugh Ward, from Hugh J Ward & Co Solicitors in Ireland. Mr. Ward gave a practical overview identifying parties to the contract and issuing credit checks and rectifying potential data protection issues. The importance of specifying payment periods was stressed, particularly in so far as the EU’s late payments directive (directive 2011/7/EU).
An overview on internal management and effective payment monitoring was delivered by Simon Camilleri, representing CreditInfo. Mr. Camilleri explained basic safeguards a company should undertake before committing to trade with another business. Such safeguards can significantly cut down on the burden of having to initiate debt recovery procedures. This is particularly important due to the problematic effect late payments can have on cash flow, especially in small businesses.
When no option remains but to initiate debt recovery procedures, various methods of redress are available to companies, both in Malta, as well as throughout the EU. Domestic and EU enforcement procedures were delved into by Daniel Buttigieg and Adrian Attard from Fenech & Fenech Advocates. Drs Buttigieg and Attard also explained the step by step process businesses can undertake in order to ensure a smooth recovery process. At the end of the seminar, an open panel discussion with all the speakers was chaired by Josef Busuttil from the Malta Association of Credit Management.