Generally speaking, nobody is very enthusiastic when having to pay an invoice. But what is even less pleasant, is if someone does not pay your claim. That's why you can claim compensation (interest), if someone pays late.
In most contracts, the parties agree to a certain fixed interest percentage for late payments. But in many cases this does not work. For example with regard to damage claims, it is very difficult (if not practically impossible) to agree which interest rate will be due should the debtor fail to pay in time.
For that reason, in the Netherlands there is the fixed statutory interest that applies to all late payments, regardless the basis for the claim (contract, damages, etc.). The fixed interest rate was 2%, but as of 1 January, it is 4%.
To commercial transactions, a different system applies. Late payments in commercial transactions negatively affect liquidity and complicates the financial management of companies. This is a downward spiral: if it becomes general practice that parties pay late, this may affect the reliability and stability of the financial markets, which in the end could cause financial institutions to be less forthcoming to provide credit.
With its Directive on combating late payments in commercial transactions (2011/7), the European Union intended to provide debtors with a firm incentive to pay their commercial invoices in time. Therefore, the debtors will have to pay a relative high interest rate, if they are late.
The new commercial interest rate is 10.5% As a default rule, the Directive (and the Dutch Civil Code) stipulate that the commercial interest will be due as of 30 days after the invoice date. However, under some conditions, parties are of course allowed to agree on a different payment term.
The commercial interest rate does not apply automatically to all claims that have any relation with a commercial transaction. The commercial interest only applies to the main payment obligation for the purchased goods or rendered services. If the purchased goods are defective or the services were inadequate, the potential damage claims do not fall under the scope of the commercial interest. To those claims, the lower statutory interest applies.
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