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Affronter un mauvais payeur


To settle the invoice

Definition : to pay the bill, to settle the account. 

Translation : Régler la facture 

To draft the terms and conditions of sale

Definition : to draw up the terms, to write the rules regarding sales and payment conditions. 

Translation : Rédiger les conditions générales de vente 

Payment date

Definition : settlement date, due date, deadline. 

Translation : Date d’échéance 

Collection of receivables

Definition : debt recovery, payment collection, collection of delinquent accounts. 

Translation : Recouvrement des créances 

To dispute a claim

Definition : to challenge an invoiced sum, to question an amount which is due. 

Translation : Contester une créance 

To specify a due date

Definition : to indicate a time limit for payment, to stipulate a settlement deadline, to fix a specific period in which the bill must be paid. 

Translation : Préciser un délai de paiement 

Final notice (to pay)

Definition : official final demand, official request for payment before further action is taken. 

Translation : Mise en demeure 

To initiate legal proceedings

Definition : to take legal action, to engage further legal steps. 

Translation : Lancer une procédure légale 

Retention of title

Definition : maintaining of property/ownership ; the property remains under the ownership of the seller until payment is made. 

Translation : Réserve de propriété 

To be in debt

Definition : to owe money, to be in the red. 

Translation : Etre endetté 

To be bankrupt

Definition : to be in a state of collapse, to be insolvent. 

Translation : Etre en faillite 

We still haven’t received your payment

Definition : we don’t have a record of your remittance, we don’t seem to be in receipt of your payment. 

Translation : Nous n’avons toujours pas reçu votre règlement 


Definition : lapse of memory, brief slip of the memory. 

Translation : Oubli 

To be insincere

Definition : to be dishonest, to have bad intentions. 

Translation : Etre de mauvaise foi 

To send a second notice of payment due

Definition : to send a note to remind somebody to pay. 

Translation : Envoyer un rappel 

We expect you to settle this account within five working days

Definition : we are counting on your remittance by the end of five working days.

Translation : Nous comptons recevoir votre règlement d’ici à cinq jours ouvrables 

Late fees, penalty fees

Definition : late payment charge, additional fees applied for late payment. 

Translation : Pénalité pour paiement tardif 

Unfortunately, the payment date cannot be extended

Definition : regrettably, the due date cannot be changed ; I’m sorry but we can’t give you any more time to pay.

Translation : Je regrette, mais nous ne pouvons pas accorder de délai de paiement 

To demand payment

Definition : chase a payment, to follow up on an outstanding bill, to ask for an invoice to be settled. 

Translation : Réclamer un paiement 

The invoice XXX dated 15th of February is still outstanding

Definition : the bill XXX from 15th February still hasn’t been paid, the invoice XXX is still due. 

Translation : La facture XXX du 15 février reste impayée 

to run a credit check beforehand

Definition : to check the credit rating of the firm or individual. 

Translation : Vérifier le plafond de crédit 

Installment plan

Definition : payment plan, to pay back a sum at regular intervals, stage payment (payment of agreed amounts at stages). 

Translation : Paiement échelonné 

I’m calling about last month’s invoice

Definition : I’m ringing about the bill from the previous month. 

Translation : Je vous appelle au sujet de la facture du mois dernier 

I really must remind you that…

Definition : I must bring to your attention the fact that…, I am obliged to point out to you that… 

Translation : Je suis dans l’obligation de vous rappeler que… 

We demand settlement by…

Definition : we must insist on payment by..., remittance must be made by… 

Translation : Nous exigeons votre règlement avant le… 

Unless full payment is made by…

Definition : if we are not paid in full by…, should you fail to settle the total amount by… 

Translation : Si nous ne recevons pas le montant total avant le… 


• UK invoice payment terms are generally : «net monthly account» (payment is due on the last day of the month following the one dated on the invoice) ; net 30 / net 60 / net 90 (payment is due 30 /60 /90 days after invoice date). Net monthly account and net 30 are the most common. 

• UK/USA companies often use third parties such as collection agencies to recover any undisputed debt which is more than three months overdue. 

• UK companies can promise to pay at a later date with a «bill of exchange», which is usually supported by a bank. 


Indicate a deadline with the preposition “by”

«By» is commonly used to indicate a dead line by which something must be done. Examples :

– The invoice must be paid by the end of the month.

– We must receive your payment by 6 p.m. on Friday.

Threaten consequential action by using the first conditional

The first conditional, which is used to describe very probable or likely situations, is often used to threaten consequential action if something is not done. The structure is : 

If + subject + present simple, subject + will + verb + conclusion of sentence. Examples : 

– If you refuse to pay the bill, we will be obliged to take legal action.

– If we don’t receive full settlement by the end of next week, we will hold back on the next delivery.


Use the expressions you have learnt in this lesson to fill in the missing word(s), then check the result below.

1. It’s essential to............ the terms and conditions of sale between the supplier and customer, and for these to be accepted and signed for before any trading takes place.

2. Good morning. This is Julie from the Accounts Department in Marsh Supplies Ltd. I’m calling about last month’s ............ for a delivery you received on the 5th of May and we’re now the end of June.

3. Many UK companies practice net monthly account payment terms whereby ............ is the last day of the month following the one dated on the invoice. 

4. Under the European Directive legislation for late payment, UK businesses can claim ............ for the ............, and this is commonly known as «compensation entitlement». 

5. A lot of tact and diplomacy is required to ........... from customers, especially if the delay is due to ........... , in order to maintain a good working relationship for future business. 

6. Having received neither reply nor remittance after our first reminder, we are now obliged to send a second notice of............ and we expect you to settle this account within five working days as from the date on this letter. 

7. Despite several reminders, the invoice number 4566 dated 15th February is still ............ 

8. Unless ............ is made by 25th April 2010, then we will be obliged to initiate ............ for the recovery of the debt without further notice.

9. Please note that this is our third and ............ before legal action. 

10. I really must ............. you that our payment terms are strictly 30 days.

11. I have enclosed a copy of our invoice number 7654, for which we still haven’t ............

12. We’ve noticed that your account remains unpaid. We demand ............ the end of this week, otherwise we will have to consider placing a stop on your future deliveries.

13. If there is a problem with paying this invoice that we are not aware of, please contact me so that we can discuss a possible ............ together.

14. May we remind you that according to our records the above amount is overdue. We would appreciate it if you could proceed to ............ without any further delay. 

15. When a company has more liabilities than assets, then it is said to ............ or more informally to be in the red. 


SOLUTIONS : 1 : draft. 2 : invoice. 3 : payment date. 4 : late fees / collection of receivables. 5 : demand payment / an oversight. 6 : payment due. 7 : outstanding. 8 : full payment / legal proceedings. 9 : final notice. 10 : remind. 11 : received your payment. 12 : settlement by. 13 : installment plan. 14 : settle the invoice. 15 : be in debt.