If I didn’t provide an invoice for a service I provided until about 9 months later, are they able to deny payment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I didn’t provide an invoice for a service I provided until about 9 months later, are they able to deny payment?

I did an event for my school and provided our photobooth for a discount. However, at that event, one of our photo booths got stolen and we were very emotional and too distracted to provide an invoice. Now about 9 months later, I’ve provided an invoice but they denied paying it. What are my rights?

Asked on February 8, 2019 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You have the right to be paid. There is NO law or court case saying that a delay in invoicing prevents you from being paid, so long as you don't delay it past the "statute of limitations" (see below). Them saying their account is closed is also irrelevant: possibly that creates an extra headache for them, but they are still legally obligated to pay you. The law is very clear that:
1) When there was an agreement to provide something for pay and you did your part (provided it), the other side must do their part (pay). This is basic contract law: the agreement between parties is enforceable.
2) Someone may not be "unjustly enriched" by knowingly accepting services or items which they know were offered them only for pay and then refusing to pay. 
The only time limit you face is the "statute of limitations," or time to sue for nonpayment. Once that time period has been exceeded, you can no longer sue for the money--which means you have no way of enforcing the debt, and the other side could refuse to pay you without you having anything (other than leaving a bad "Yelp" review or the equivalent) which you could do about it.
The relevant statute of limitations would be 2 years (if you had an oral or unwritten agreement) or 4 years (if you had a written contact). So you have at least 2, and possibly 4, years to enforce their obligatio to pay; if they will not pay you, sue them for the money.

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