Tialda Sikkema works as a PhD candidate within the Research group Debt and Debt Collection. She has been associated as a lecturer on legal text quality with HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht’s Institute for Law since 2009. In addition, she is regularly invited by international conference organisers to speak on the subject of legal text quality.
People who don’t pay their bills can expect to receive all sorts of documents demanding payment, or stating that payment will be enforced through the courts. These texts are notoriously difficult to understand and may raise more questions than they answer. Tialda Sikkema, who is a lecturer in the bailiff’s certification programme in Utrecht, wondered what the legislator had in mind when setting the standards for the phrasing of collection notices, and to which extent these notices are actually incomprehensible – and whether this can be attributed to the text itself, the task at hand or the recipient.
Her PhD thesis project ‘De taal van de incasso’ (‘The language in collection notices’) included empirical research among 212 respondents, in which they answered questions about a reminder and a writ of summons received in connection with a debt collection case. The respondents also filled in a number of questionnaires that allowed the researcher to map out their level of literacy. In addition, the study examined the historical and legal context of various collection notice texts. This research is taking place in the Research group Debt and Debt Collection at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and in the context of a project focusing on the comprehensibility of financial communication organised by Utrecht University.
Fields of expertise
- Behaviour of people facing financial difficulties
- Legal profession in practice
- Professionalisation of bailiffs