With debt collection, there can never be any guarantee the debt will be recovered. However, on the other hand, if you do nothing you will usually get nothing in your bank account.
There are three things which can go wrong with any debt collection. We cannot foresee them nor can we prevent them from happening:
- A debtor can disappear off the face of the earth so that it may become uneconomic to continue with the recovery.
- Any debtor has the right to walk into a Court, pay the required filing fee and either declare themselves bankrupt or enter a Nil Asset Procedure (which is the equivalent of bankruptcy but the debtor only loses their credit rights for one year rather than three years with bankruptcy). You can be assured that in these cases, there will not be anything available to pay unsecured creditors. No matter what action you have taken, you will not be given priority over other unsecured creditors in the event of a debtor being bankrupted.
- Any person has the right to drop dead at any stage. As glib as this sounds, it does happen and, once again, there are usually no funds or assets available to pay unsecured creditors.
Procedure for debt collection:
You need to provide us with as much information as possible including completing our Instructions to Recover Debts form. Once we have all this, we will proceed to collect the outstanding amount you have stated.
No matter what agreement you may have with your client, you will always be responsible for our fees. We currently charge $70.00 plus GST per hour plus disbursements. If, for any reason, we do not recover the debt from your debtor, you will still be liable for our costs.
Having said this, with being in business for ourselves for so long, we are fully aware that money does not grow on trees. You have our word that we will always be conscious of the amount of time and cost we are incurring on your behalf in relation to the size of the debt and the likelihood of its recovery. We will ask you for assistance as often as possible mainly to reduce costs you need to pay us.
Because we cannot give a satisfactory estimate of the costs, we will report regularly to you so that you always have an accurate understanding of the costs involved as the job progresses. At any time you may tell us to stop. You do not have to provide us with a reason for the instruction, although we may comment at that stage whether we agree or disagree with your decision. But you must remember, the decision will always be yours. If you do, you will be liable at that point for the time charges and disbursements you have incurred to that date. Unless you instruct us to stop, we will continue to work on the matter and you will continue to be liable for the on-going costs.
Each case is dealt with on its own merits but we usually commence with a letter of demand which is personally delivered to the debtor. That is why it is so important you do not procrastinate with commencing recovery action.
If the debtor does not respond to our letter of demand, we will recommend you commence Court action. After all, that is what we have threatened to do in the letter of demand. There is absolutely no point in writing a letter of demand if you do not intend to proceed with whatever you threaten.
The most common form of District Court action we use has three main stages:
First Step – Notice of Claim:
You are required to pay a $200.00 filing fee to the Court and once the sealed (stamped) Notice of Claim is returned by the Court, we can instruct a Process Server to effect service on the debtor. Service fees usually range between $80.00 and $150.00 but if there is any difficulty with serving the documents, the costs can be higher. This is why it is so important that we know where to find your debtor before commencing Court action. You will always need a physical address for your debtor because the Court documents must be served personally on the debtor.
Your timing to commence such action is important to ensure the debtor has not moved on without trace.
In the event the debtor disputes your account, if the matter cannot be amicably resolved, you are entitled to use the Disputes Tribunal. We have assisted our clients to use this system on numerous occasions with considerable success. The costs to you (apart from your time) are very low.
Second Step – Judgement
This effectively seals the debt and in most cases removes the right of the debtor to dispute it. Therefore, you can proceed to enforce/recover the funds owing to you. There is a $90.00 filing fee.
Third Step – Enforcement
You have a several choices of which way you want to go. Some options are:
Financial Hearing Assessment Application and Hearing
This is where you apply to the Court for the debtor to undergo an examination as to his/her income and expenditure, assets and liabilities. At the conclusion of the examination, the Court will usually make an order directing how the debtor will repay his/her debt. Our Lawyer tries to get an Order of the Court for the payments to be deducted from the debtor’s income at this stage.
There is a $180.00 filing fee. The hearing must be heard in the Court closest to where the debtor is based. At the hearing, the Court usually makes an award of $155.00 for the appearance of the Lawyer and you can be charged a fee ranging from $100.00 to $180.00 by that Lawyer.
There are other forms of Enforcement including (but are not limited to) a Distress Warrant, Charging Order or Bankruptcy. We have Lawyers available to give you advice and assistance in this regard.