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Double Whammy! When cost orders become a further debt

By Hayley Hitch a Solicitor of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

In one of our recent matters, proceedings were commenced against a debtor, and the relevant guarantor, in the Local Court of NSW for recovery of a debt, being non-payment of services rendered by our client to the debtor.

Local Court proceedings

The defendants were at all times self-represented in those proceedings and took steps to file defences, out of time (and without leave) and also failed to appear in Court on several occasions. This ultimately led to:

  1. the defences being struck out;
  2. cost orders being made against the defendants; and
  3. Judgment being entered in favour of our client in the vicinity of $40,000.

Multiple attempts were then made by one of the defendants to set aside the default judgment and the various cost orders.

The last of these applications was held by the Local Court to be an abuse of process and the Court strongly urged the defendant to obtain legal advice before taking any further action.
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Can you serve legal documents by Facebook?

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Yes, it is possible to serve documents via Facebook. In an earlier blog “Serving debtors that don’t want to be found“, we discussed how legal documents can be served by substituted service. Service via Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the many methods legal documents can be served by substituted service.

In possibly a world first in 2008, the ACT Supreme Court granted orders for substituted service for the police to serve legal documents via a private message on Facebook. Since then, there have been many occasions in which the courts have allowed legal documents to be served via Facebook. You might even remember that in 2012, the District Court of NSW allowed for legal documents to be served on the rapper Flo Rida via his official Facebook page. Those orders for service via Facebook were ultimately overturned on appeal because, among other reasons, the evidence did not show that Facebook page through which the documents were served was actually the Facebook page of Flo Rida.
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Serving debtors who don’t want to be found

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

In an earlier blog “When is an old debt too old to collect“, we discussed how some of the more difficult to collect debts are often placed in the ‘too hard basket’. An all too common reason that these debts are in the ‘too hard basket’ is because you can’t find the debtor. They’ve moved address and you can’t find them to be able to serve them with legal documents. However, this is not the end!

Yes, the law usually requires that legal documents be served personally. This is to make sure the defendant actually receives the legal documents and knows about the legal proceedings against them.

However, the court rules allow for you to serve legal documents in other ways. This is known as “substituted service”. Legal documents served by substituted service are deemed to be served and will allow you to continue proceedings to recover your debt. Some examples include serving legal documents by email, or even by leaving them at the last known address of the debtor and sending them a text to let them know where the documents have been left. In the social media era the courts are also becoming more prepared to make substituted service orders involving use of social media such as Facebook.

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I only have the business name of the debtor, can I still sue them?

By Renee Smith a Solicitor of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

When looking to commence proceedings against a debtor, one of the first steps to take is to identify exactly who (or what) it is that you have contracted with. Usually this will be the party that is listed as your customer in the written contract.  This may be an individual, company or trustee of some form of trust. Sometimes of course, the relevant paperwork is either missing, or was never created in the first place.

In some cases the identification process is not straightforward and can potentially lead to a delay in recovering the debt, or worse still, make it impossible to commence debt recovery.

The registered name of a business may, or may not, also be the correct legal entity to sue.  It is important to investigate beyond the business name that you know the debtor by, to see who, or what, owns the name and whether the name has been registered.
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Debt Recovery from a Company that has ‘Ceased to Be’…

By Renee Smith a Solicitor of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

What sort of debt recovery procedure exists for companies that have been deregistered? From time to time Matthews Folbigg are asked to advise clients in relation to debt recovery and enforcement of debts against debtor companies who have been deregistered.

So what can be done for debt recovery against a deregistered company?

Under section 601AD the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (“the Act”), once a company is deregistered it ceases to exist as a legal entity. As Monty Python would put it, the company, far from pining for the Norwegian fjords, ‘is no more’, and ‘has ceased to be’. As a result, all of the company’s property vests in ASIC (or in the Commonwealth if held on trust – a not uncommon situation for trading trusts) and any legal proceedings cannot be commenced or continued.

Unlike the Norwegian Blue, however, it is possible to resurrect a company that has been deregistered, for the purpose of enforcing a claim. This is under section 601AH(2) of the Act by making an application to the Federal Court or the Supreme Court of NSW as “a person aggrieved” by the deregistration. It is also possible for ASIC to reinstate the company if satisfied the company should not have been deregistered however ASIC’s preference appears to be to leave these matters for the Court if possible.
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Proposed Changes to Credit Reporting Before Senate: Will it impact debt recovery?

By Bonnie McMahon an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

The Commonwealth government has introduced the National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Mandatory Comprehensive Credit Reporting) Bill 2018 (“the Bill“), which is currently before the Senate.

If passed, the Bill will require the four major banks (Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) to supply their comprehensive credit information to credit reporting agencies, which will include information regarding customers that have been involved in a debt recovery process. The banks will also be required to keep the information they supply, accurate, complete and up to date, on all existing and new accounts.

How will the bill impact credit providers and debt recovery?

It is expected that these new credit reporting requirements will assist credit providers to make more informed assessments, when determining whether to approve credit applications. Further, it is anticipated that these reforms will assist credit providers to identify which applications may require future debt recovery, if approved.
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How to serve a statutory demand

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

In earlier articles, we highlighted the problems that arise when serving a Creditor’s Statutory Demand by post: see You’ve been served! and It Serves You Right?.

This issue reared its head again two weeks ago in winding up proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW in which we acted for the creditor. The Court was satisfied with all but one element of the evidence required to make the winding up order. The Court did not accept that the statutory demand had been properly posted (even though there was evidence of postage).

The statutory demand had been ‘posted’ by an Australia Post employee attending and collecting it from the office premises rather than the statutory demand being placed into a post box. The Court was not prepared to accept that the statutory demand had been posted because it was unfamiliar with this practice. The Court was more familiar with posting a statutory demand by placing the document into a post box or directly with an Australia Post outlet.
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When is an old debt too old to collect?

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Sometimes, we are all a bit guilty of putting some of the more difficult to collect debts in the ‘too hard basket’ for too long. For so long that they become an ‘old debt’. But how long can you leave an old debt before it’s too late to collect? And the old debt becomes ‘statute barred’?

For debts in NSW, the clock generally starts running for a period of 6 years from the date the cause of action first accrues (e.g. the date of default). After the expiry of this 6 year period, the legislation restricts you from recovering the debt and it becomes ‘stature barred’.

However, it is possible to reset the clock on old debts depending on the circumstances and events that take place during the 6 year period. A few examples that might reset the clock for an old debt include:
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