– di Mario Dusi.

Any creditor wishes to achieve additional effects from a formal payment request.

Is it legal to send payment request to the working place, or home (not the official residences) of the debtor? Can the right to request due payments have effects on data protection laws?

The Italian Supreme Court (Cassazione), with sentence number 18783 (filed on July 02nd,  2021) confirmed the prevalence of data protection on credit claims.

In a complicated case relating a credit claim based on a final judgment in favor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against an employee of the Public Administration, to whom a reminder for payment was sent through institutional communication channels (also involving the new offices, where the debtor was working) – the Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal to unjustifiably communicate to third parties, as opposed to the debtor himself (such as to family members, housemates, work colleagues, neighbors), information relating to the debtor non performance of payment.

Basically, it is lawful to send a payment request in the form of a closed letter, without specific indications, while sending a PEC (Italian certified electronic email) to the email address, where the debtor is not the exclusive recipient, breaches data protection laws.

The Supreme Court stated the following basic principle:

“With regard to the processing of personal data (pursuant to Legislative Decree 196/2003), the creditor who, within his credit collection activity, directly, or indirectly, communicates to third parties (family members, housemates, work colleagues, neighbors) information, data and news relating to the debtor’s payment default, or uses modalities that reveal the content of such communication to third parties, without respecting the duty to limit the communication to the debtor, to the strictly necessary data and to the credit recovery activity, breaches data protection laws”.

This precedent case must be taken into due consideration: communications by PEC (Italian certified electronic email)  must not be used in an extensive and visible way to subjects, other than the debtor himself!

For this reason, the Credit Manager who instructs to send a payment request must carefully verify that the method of “packaging” the claim and the address of the payment request does not exceed the above mentioned limits indicated by the Italian Supreme Court (Cassazione).

Risk: heavy penalties under the applicable data protection laws!