Debt Recovery

The team at Meyer Vandenberg is here to help you with all of your legal issues arising in relation to debt recovery.

Our extensive experience includes working with creditors and debtors in matters involving all sizes of debts.

If you are a creditor, we can work with you to recover your debt from a debtor by negotiation, or by using tribunal and court processes, or by using the relevant provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) or Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth).

If you are a debtor who is being pursued by a creditor for payment of a debt, we can advise you about your options to deal with the debt and best strategy to resolve any dispute you have with the creditor.

What we do

In every case we:

  • Take the time to properly understand the facts, evidence and surrounding circumstances of your situation.
  • Consider your legal position based on the current state of relevant law, and determine the best strategy to protect your interests.
  • Deliver advice in plain-English about your legal position, options for the next steps and our recommendations tailored to your situation and based on our expertise.
  • Negotiate at any time with the other parties to resolve as quickly as possible the issues between them, whether the negotiation be formally by mediation or informally by communications between the parties (and their lawyers).

We can also, as required:

  • Prepare and run court proceedings (litigation) for you, including appeals.
  • Prepare and help you execute documents recording and giving effect to settlement reached between the parties or court orders.

Debt recovery as relates to creditors

  • Negotiate and liaise with you and the debtor about the debt in issue, including any underlying dispute about the debt.
  • Prepare letters of demand.
  • Prepare and run court or tribunal applications claiming payment of the debt.
  • Prepare applications for default judgment.
  • Prepare applications for enforcement orders, including seizure and sale orders, instalment orders, garnishee orders and orders for possession of vacant land.
  • Prepare Creditors Statutory Demands under the Corporations Act for payment of a debt.
  • Prepare winding up applications to a court for orders to wind up the debtor.
  • Prepare Bankruptcy Notices under the Bankruptcy Act for payment of a debt.
  • Prepare Creditors Petitions to a court for orders to bankrupt the debtor.
  • Assist you deal with the insolvency of the debtor, including deal with an insolvency practitioner appointed to the debtor.

Debt recovery as relates to debtors

  • Negotiate and liaise with you and the creditor about the debt in issue, including any underlying dispute about the debt.
  • Respond to and negotiate with the creditor in relation to letters of demand.
  • Prepare and run defences or replies to court or tribunal applications claiming a debt.
  • Prepare applications to set aside default judgment.
  • Prepare applications to set aside or vary enforcement orders.
  • Prepare applications to set aside Creditors Statutory Demands under the Corporations Act.
  • Prepare applications to contest winding up application to a court.
  • Prepare applications to contest Bankruptcy Notices under the Bankruptcy Act.
  • Prepare applications to contest Creditors Petitions to a court.
  • Assist you deal with your insolvency, including deal with an insolvency practitioner appointed your entity or estate.

The MV difference

  • Experts in debt recovery who work for creditors and debtors, and who have a thorough knowledge of the practices and procedures of ACT, NSW and Commonwealth courts and tribunals as they relate specifically to debt recovery.
  • A commitment to protecting your interests having regard to both legal and non-legal interests.
  • A focus on practical and plain-English advice, with commercial recommendations to resolve issues.
  • A commitment to collaboration with other parties to determine and implement the best strategy to protect your interests, ensure all rights are recognised and resolve any dispute.
  • True passion for this area of law.
  • Frank and fearless advice to you about the strength of your legal position, and the likely outcome of any dispute.
  • Full and frank disclosure of all legal costs to ensure a properly informed decision about the next steps is made and there are no unhappy legal costs surprises along the way.

FAQs

A letter of demand is a letter to the debtor asking them to pay the debt amount that they owe you within a specific timeframe.  A well drafted demand will explain to the debtor in plain English the reasons why you say the debtor owes you the debt and the total amount of the debt you say is owing to you.  Importantly, the demand should warn the debtor that if they do not pay the debt within the timeframe provided in the demand you may start a court case to recover the amount of the debt.

The demand offers the debtor the opportunity to pay the debt or to raise any issues with your claim before you commence a court case which may save you time and money in the long run.  The demand may also be used in evidence in court proceedings to show that you have complied with contractual provisions which require you to demand payment, or simply that you have made an effort to engage with the debtor before the proceedings began.

In the ACT, debt claims may be brought in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), the ACT Magistrate’s Court or the ACT Supreme Court.  Where you sue depends on the amount of the debt.  The ACAT can decide debt claims up to $25,000, the Magistrate’s Court can decide debt claims between $25,001 and $250,000 and the Supreme Court decides all debt claims for $250,001 or more.

In the ACT if you have a money order against a debtor but do not have enough information about the debtor’s financial position to enable you to decide the best way to enforce the money order, you can apply to the court and ask it to conduct an enforcement hearing.

As part of the enforcement hearing process, the debtor will be required to provide you with a statement containing details of their assets, liabilities, weekly earnings from employment, cash at bank and so forth.  At the enforcement hearing you will also be given the opportunity to cross examine the debtor in relation to their statement and ask them for further information in relation to their financial affairs.

The court also has power to make enforcement orders at the enforcement hearing, circumventing the need to make a separate application.

If you have been served with an ACAT application or a court claim do not ignore it.  You only have 21 days to file a response to an ACAT application, or 28 days to file a defence to a court claim, from the date the document was served upon you.

If you do not file a response or defence within the required timeframe, the creditor will be entitled to file for default judgment against you.  If default judgment is awarded against you, the creditor may enforce that judgment by any number of enforcement options, including:

  • If the judgment is against you personally and is for more than $5,000 the creditor may look to bankruptcy law to enforce it by issuing a Bankruptcy Notice.
  • If the judgment is against your company, the creditor may look to the Corporations Act and issue a Creditor’s Statutory Demand for payment of a debt.

It is important you get legal advice as soon as you receive an ACAT application or a court claim to ensure you protect yourself from default judgment, and that a litigation strategy is in place which puts your best case.