UK firms latest payers in Europe

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The Independent Online
BRITISH companies have the worst payment record in Europe and over half deliberately pay their bills late, writes Diane Coyle.

Payments by British firms are on average 23 days late - almost double the European average of 14 days - according to a survey carried out by Intrum Justitia, a debt collection group with over 45,000 clients across Europe.

John Langhorn, Intrum Justitia's managing director, said: 'The British clearly pay as late as possible, probably because, with little effective legislation to stop them, they know they can get away with it.' The Government's recent White Paper on competition rejected legislation on late payment.

Yet UK firms overwhelmingly supported it, with 88 per cent in favour of a statutory right to claim interest on overdue bills, and 89 per cent wanting faster legal redress.

Intrum Justitia found that the countries with extensive legislation - Sweden, Norway and Finland - had the shortest overdue and total payment periods.

French and Italian companies had the worst record after the British, with payments on average 19 and 20 days overdue.