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Creditor’s statutory demand issued pending negotiations is upheld

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

In a recent matter which we acted for the Defendant (In the matter of Precise Training Pty Ltd [2018] NSWSC 1383), we successfully defended an application to set aside a creditor’s statutory demand issued by the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue (“the Commissioner“) against Precise Training Pty Ltd, the Plaintiff.

Facts

The Commissioner issued a number of assessments for payroll tax to Precise Training in 2015 as a member of a larger tax group. Precise Training disputed the assessments and lodged an objection on 10 December 2015. The Commissioner disallowed the objection and proceeded to enter into negotiations for payment of the assessments.

Precise Training lodged a second objection on 18 July 2016 and requested that the Commissioner undertake not to commence recovery proceedings while the second objection was being decided and the parties were in negotiations.

On 10 November 2016, the Commissioner responded to the request for an undertaking advising that “recovery proceedings have been on hold” while the objection is being decided and the parties are in discussions to settle the disputed assessments.

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DEBTOR’S PETITION OVERHAUL – JANUARY 2020

By Darrin Mitchell, Senior Associate at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

An individual overwhelmed by debt (“the Debtor”) may seek the protection of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) (“the Act”) and file a Debtor’s Petition.

Section 55 of the Act provides that an individual may present to the Official Receiver a petition against himself/herself in the approved form and accompanied by a Statement of Affairs which provides details of the person and sets out the person’s financial affairs.

On 1 January 2020 the Official Receiver commenced a new online process for the lodgement of debtor’s petitions in an online portal. A new version of the approved form has been created which combines the petition and the Statement of Affairs.  A sample of the new approved form can be found here.  A Debtor is required to set up an online account to complete the form.  For online access to create an account see here.
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Preventing a Service Fail – A Tale of Email v. Snail Mail?

 

In one of our recent matters, a client instructed us to bring winding up proceedings against four companies with the same sole director. The total debt across the four companies was over $300,000.00. Whilst there were four applications before the Court, one common issue was whether the companies had been properly served with the statutory demands relating to the debt owed.

On 11 April 2019, statutory demands were sent to all four companies, with the demands posted to the registered offices of the defendants according to the records of ASIC. Unbeknownst to the creditor, the director had vacated the registered premises of two of the companies over a year earlier, but had failed to update ASIC’s records in respect of this change, and had not put in place a mail-forwarding system. The demands addressed to the other two companies were sent to the office of the director’s solicitor.

No application to set aside the statutory demands was filed by any of the 4 companies. Therefore winding up proceedings were filed against the companies on 28 May 2019. The Originating Processes in respect of the winding up applications were served at the same addresses that the statutory demands had been sent.
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How to Enforce a Judgment in Debt Recovery – Garnishee Orders

By Chloe Howard,  a Solicitor of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Whilst there are many options for enforcing a judgment debt, in the right matter a Garnishee Order can be an extremely effective debt recovery tool. They are inexpensive to issue and all you need is the debtor’s name to get the process started. So, what is a Garnishee Order and how can a Garnishee Order help in recovering a debt owed to you?

What is a Garnishee Order?

A Garnishee Order is an order of the Court which allows a judgment creditor to recover or ‘garnish’ a debt from a judgment debtor by essentially ‘seizing’ monies from the judgment debtor without their permission by going directly to a third party for payment.

How can a Garnishee Order help recover the debt owed to me?

A Garnishee Order can be enforced in any of the following ways:

Wages

If the judgment debtor is employed and earns an income, a Garnishee Order can be issued to the debtor’s employer. In this situation, the employer will deduct funds from the debtor’s pay cheque and pay that amount directly to you by way of instalments.
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In a Daze about Days – counting the time limit for filing an Application to set aside a Creditor’s Statutory Demand

By Jeffrey Brown, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

The Supreme Court has today handed down a Judgment that reinforces an established principle about the meaning of the term “within 21 days” in Section 459G(2) of the Corporations Act.

If a company is served with a Creditor’s Statutory Demand, it must, if it wishes to resist the Demand, file an Application with a Court within 21 days. This timeframe cannot be extended, even if both parties agree to do so.

But do you count the day that the company was served with the Demand as day 1 of that 21 day period?

That question was of central importance in Verimark Pty Ltd -v- Passiontree VelvetPty Ltd [2019] NSW SC 455 (26 April 2019). If the day of service is to be counted as Day 1 then, the parties agreed, Verimark was out of time to file its Application.

Her Honour Ward CJ in Eq. reviewed the caselaw thoroughly and concluded that the 21 day period begins the day after the Demand is served, and therefore Verimark’s Application was within time. This decision accords with a strong line of case law authority supporting that view.
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Is Payment of the Debt Guaranteed? The Answer Is Not Always Straightforward…

By Jeffrey Brown, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

The concept is simple enough: your terms of trade contain a section to be completed and signed by a person who agrees to personally guarantee all debts of your customer. If the customer can’t or won’t pay, you can turn to the guarantor for payment.

The guarantee is a tried and trusted part of the debt collection strategy for many businesses.

Far too often, we see instances where claims for payment made against guarantors run into serious trouble.

A common response by a guarantor to a debt collection claim is that they did not understand that by signing the document they would be personally bound to pay.

At first blush this might seem a weak argument, but in many cases it is successful.

If a written guarantee is not properly signed, it can open an argument that the person signing was not doing so as a guarantor but in another capacity. This is because most guarantors are also a director of the customer, and the same person who is signing on behalf of the company is providing the guarantee. So if there is any doubt over which “hat” the person signing was wearing at the time, it can throw the guarantee, and collection of the debt, into doubt.
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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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