Debt Collection in Canada
So you thought Canada was just like the United States…………
As they used to say in the bad old days of the radio –“ ‘tain’t so, McGee”.
Let us dispose of the obvious similarities upfront: we speak the same language; their legal system in all but one of their 10 provinces is of the same derivation as ours: the common law of England; their society is based on capitalism and broad personal freedoms; most importantly — they are a democracy.
In terms of international politics, Canada has been a steadfast ally to the United States. Back in the days when we had a president that would willingly assert American power internationally, Canada was always there for us. But when we get down to the nitty-gritty of doing business in Canada, and recovering debts in Canada, it is a whole other story.
Each of the provinces has its own commercial customs, legislature, and Governor, and these differences really stand out in the variation among their laws when it comes to collections and recoveries. One province — Quebec — — is not only mostly French speaking but follows the Napoleonic code as a basis for its law. Ironically, it is one of the better collection venues. All the others — most notably Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia have a disconcerting array of local impediments to any foreign creditor seeking justice and recovery. In several, the foreign creditor must register to do business there, before being able to file suit. In Ontario, the most important province from a commercial standpoint, there is a very short time period in which a recovery suit can be filed. Worse yet, all of these regulations change constantly.
For creditors in the USA, and their attorneys and collection agents this mishmash constitutes a trap for the unwary: the Canadians seem so much like us — finding out, the hard way, that legally they aren’t, is not pleasant. From a creditor’s rights standpoint, if you have a problem in Canada, get educated, pay attention, and move promptly.
Have questions about collecting a debt in Canada? Feel free to reach out to our office and we would be glad to assist you.
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William Victor Gruman