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When are dunning charges due?

If you want to know whether dunning fees may be charged in a specific case, you should first ask yourself: Is there a claim for payment that is due? If the customer does not comply with a demand for payment from the creditor, he is in default of payment. If this is the case, the customer must pay the demanded dunning costs. Default is the prerequisite for this.

Editorial Team Germany | Oct 4, 2022 3 min
Dunning charges - when are they due?

Amount of the dunning costs

Under which circumstances may dunning charges be levied? And how high may these dunning charges be?

With the first demand for payment to the debtor, the dunning process generally begins. If the person concerned does not pay the outstanding invoice amount within the specified period, default of payment occurs. From this point on, dunning costs may be charged. The composition of the dunning costs is not always self-explanatory for the debtor. If the debtor cannot understand the amount of the dunning costs, he should have the creditor explain the calculation in detail.

Dispensability of a reminder

Is it always necessary for at least one reminder to have been sent in order for dunning fees to be charged?

This depends on whether a reminder is required to put the customer in default of payment. In some cases a reminder is dispensable, for example if a fixed date is set for the performance of the service, or 30 days after receipt of an invoice. In this case, the consumer must have been informed separately in the invoice of the legal consequences in the event of default and thus in particular that he will automatically be in default after 30 days from receipt of the invoice. A reminder is also dispensable if the debtor has definitively refused to perform.

Do I have to pay reminder fees?

How can you defend yourself against excessive dunning charges?

Dunning costs must be paid by the debtor as damages caused by delay. There is no legal regulation on the maximum amount of reminder costs. The rule of thumb is: appropriate lump sums are permissible, if they do not exceed the normally expected expenditure. However, if reminder costs appear to be set too high, they can be objected. If the calculation is not clearly recognisable, the debtor has the possibility to have the composition explained in writing at any time.

Form of reminders

Is there a specific form in which a reminder must be sent? Are there any legal regulations on this?

The legislator does not prescribe a required form for the reminder. For reasons of proof, the written form is recommended. In addition to the details of both parties, the reminder should contain a clear request to the debtor to fulfil his payment obligation. It should be clearly recognisable for the debtor which invoice / invoice item is still open for payment. This can be done, for example, by naming the invoice or delivery note. By indicating the number, date and, if applicable, the individual invoice item, the outstanding invoice item can be easily and clearly determined.
This is not the case for debt collection companies; the information and disclosure requirements for debt collection letters against private individuals are regulated in § 13a RDG (German Legal Services Act).