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By Anica Cunanan, Solicitor at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

The debt collection process is one which causes a lot of hesitation and frustration which can lead to a misunderstanding of what the key differences are between a debt collection agency and a debt collection lawyer.

Some creditors choose to handle such matters on their own whilst others choose to engage with a debt collection agency at first instance. That being said, engaging with a debt collection lawyer is a step which many avoid due to some misconceptions of how lawyers deal with the debt recovery process and by the same token, engaging a lawyer can seem daunting.

Well, what approach should you take and are there certain circumstances where one is more appropriate than the other?

There are various factors that need to be considered when deciding on whether to engage a debt collection agency or debt collection lawyer, such as:
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Creditor’s Statutory Demand Threshold: What It Is and How to Use It

By Kim Nguyen, Solicitor of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

On 15 February 2021, the Treasury released a consultation paper “Increasing the Statutory Demand Threshold” seeking submissions on the appropriateness and impacts of permanently increasing the statutory demand threshold. The consultation period expired on 5 March 2021, however, further information can be found here.

What were the temporary changes?

In response to COVID-19, Federal Parliament introduced insolvency reforms to support small businesses in financial distress.  In March 2020, the Government passed the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) (Coronavirus Act) which temporarily:

  • Increased the statutory minimum debt(s) based on which a creditor can issue a statutory demand from $2,000 to $20,000;
  • Extended the period within which the company may respond from 21 days to six months.

The purpose of the reform was said to be to reduce the pressure upon companies that were struggling to pay their debts.
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SME Debt Restructuring Legislation Passed

By Andrew Hack, Solicitor, and Stephen Mullette, Principal, of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

The Corporations Amendment (Corporate Insolvency Reforms) Bill 2020 has been passed in the Senate as of yesterday. The legislation will take effect from 1 January 2021.

The centrepiece of the legislation is the introduction of a new restructuring mechanism for SME’s, called ‘Debt Restructuring’. The process allows insolvent SME’s to put forward a proposal to creditors to resolve unsecured debts and allow the company to continue trading. The process is similar to Part IX debt agreements available to insolvent individuals under the bankruptcy legislation.

Other amendments included in the legislation are:

  1. A temporary safe harbour period for directors’ liability for insolvent trading whilst they are attempting to appoint an external administrator – this operates from 1 January 2021 and ends on 31 March 2021.
  2. A ‘Simplified Liquidation’ regime for small businesses, which is designed to reduce the time and cost involved with liquidating a corporate small business.
  3. Continue reading…

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It’s not your money: director refused access to company’s frozen funds

By Andrew Hack, Solicitor, and Stephen Mullette, Principal, of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

As an interim measure to recovering a debt, creditors may seek freezing orders against debtors where they feel there is a risk that the defendant will dissipate its assets so as to avoid orders. Litigants will usually be allowed limited access to frozen funds so as to fund the litigation they are involved in as well as pay for their reasonable living expenses.

In Super Vision Resources Ltd v AC Holdings Co Pty Ltd [2020] NSWCA 244 the NSW Court of Appeal considered an application by AC Holdings to access funds that were the subject of freezing orders. AC Holdings had successfully opposed Super Vision’s claim to recoup the proceeds of a property sale as being a transfer to defeat creditors pursuant to section 37A(1) of the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW), in which AC Holdings was the purchaser. Super Vision was appealing that decision.
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The handcuffs are on debt recovery, but for how long? What you can do in the meantime…

By Jeffrey Brown, Principal at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

As part of the Federal Government’s response to the COVD-19 crisis, a handbrake has effectively been applied to court proceedings aimed at bankrupting individuals and placing companies into liquidation. This has been achieved by lengthening the time for debtors to respond to formal demands, from 21 days to 6 months, for both bankruptcy notices (in the case of individuals) and statutory demands (for payment of debts incurred by companies). As part of the same reforms, the minimum debt amount that can be the subject of bankruptcy or winding up proceedings has been increased to $20,000.00.

The Federal Government intends to keep these extended compliance periods and amounts in place until at least the end of 2020. While they remain in place, debtors will be well aware that creditors have limited options open to them to enforce their debts.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many of those debtors are choosing to trade on their businesses well beyond the point at which they have become insolvent (that is, unable to pay their debts as they fall due).
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Model Behaviour: the Australian version of America’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Scheme – Key Points

By Jodie Rodrigues, solicitor at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Part 1: The Key Points

On 24 September 2020, the latest instalment in Australia’s insolvency reforms was announced. These reforms have been branded “the most significant reforms to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years”.

And yet the plan, apparently, is to have these reforms in place in 3 months.

Under the Morrison government’s proposal, Australia would adopt a framework modeled on parts of Chapter 11 of America’s Bankruptcy Code. The proposed system would provide two alternative forms of insolvency administration for small businesses with liabilities of up to $1,000,000:

  1. A ‘debtor in possession’ restructuring plan, allowing thirty-five business days to obtain creditor approval for a debt restructure; and
  2. A simplified form of corporate liquidation, is restructure is not possible.

Restructuring Process

From 21 January 2021, small businesses with liabilities of less than $1,000,000 will have access to a debtor-controlled restructuring process in which there will be:
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Collecting Money? Avoid Going It Alone!

By Ellen Ferris, a Solicitor in Matthews Folbigg’s Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

Collecting money, especially from people you know, is always a delicate business.

Collecting money requires you to be persistent, and all too often becomes something that we let slip to the back of our mind to avoid the hassle, inconvenience, and sometimes even embarrassment of chasing valued customers for unpaid debts. Certain debts, even large ones, can be placed in the “too hard basket”, and never followed up on. Certain timelines for recovering debts can then expire, or more simply, debts can be forgotten or ignored.

Matthews Folbigg Lawyers understand these issues. When it comes to collecting money we are very experienced, and know that handing over the problem of collecting money to lawyers is normally only considered after the last resort has failed. However, at Matthews Folbigg Lawyers we can go about collecting money in a way that suits your special relationship with your customers. Whether you would like a gentle reminder or a final warning, if you are not getting anywhere with your own attempts at collecting money, we would be happy to assist.
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Insolvency Relief Extended until New Years!

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

The Morrison Government earlier this year introduced the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) which came into effect on 25 March 2020 to provide relief to individuals and entities under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) and supporting legislation. These changes were due to expire on 25 September 2020, where the legislation was expected to revert back to its former position where, for example, statutory demands and bankruptcy notices required a 21 day response period.

You may recall our earlier blog which goes into some detail about these changes, this may be viewed here.

The Morrison Government has however today extended the operation of the relief provided (and described above) until 31 December 2020. This means that:

  1. Any statutory demands issued under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) on or before 31 December 2020 will need to provide the debtor with a period of 6 months to respond and be for at least $20,000;
  2. Continue reading…