Lenhoff & Hotz has many years of experience in the field of debt recovery in which we normally represent individuals, medium-sized companies and other business enterprises. Consequently, we are able to offer our debt recovery services at very competitive rates.
The information below is intended to be a guide to the debt recovery process which has been successfully used by us over the years.
1. Letter of Demand
The initial step taken by us in the debt recovery process is to send the debtor what is known as a letter of demand. This letter informs the debtor of the nature and amount of our client’s claim. It is also notification of the fact that our client is legally represented in the matter.
The letter of demand will stipulate a time within which the amount claimed by the client must be paid. This time period is usually between 7 and 14 days. The letter will go on to state that if the amount claimed is not paid within the stipulated time, then legal proceedings will be commenced on our client’s behalf to recover the amount stated in the letter together with legal interest and costs.
It often happens that the letter of demand has the desired result and the debt is paid by the debtor so that there is no need for any further action in the matter. The benefit derived by the debtor in paying the claim on receipt of the letter of demand is that his credit rating remains unaffected by the commencement of legal proceedings and the debtor is not, by that stage, liable for any legal costs.
2. Initiating Process
If the debtor fails to pay the amount claimed within the period stipulated in the letter of demand, then legal proceedings will be commenced against the debtor usually in the Magistrates Court because most debt recovery claims in debt recovery Perth do not exceed $75,000. Here it should be noted that claims in the Magistrates Court for less than $10,000 are conducted in a no costs jurisdiction with the consequence costs of the claim (other than disbursements such as filing fees) cannot be recovered from the debtor regardless of the outcome of the proceedings.
Claims for amounts exceeding $75,000 will have to be commenced in one of the superior courts. The jurisdiction of the District Court of Western Australia is $750,000 whereas the Supreme Court of Western Australia has unlimited jurisdiction.
3. Default Judgment
If the initiating process has been served on the debtor who then fails to defend the claim within the time stipulated in the process, judgement by default for the amount of the debt recovery claim, legal interest (currently 6% per annum) and costs may be entered against the debtor.
This judgement can be enforced in a number of ways, usually by the issue of what is known as a Property Seizure and Sale Order (PSSO) where the Sheriff attends at the debtor’s premises and attaches any unencumbered property for subsequent sale by execution. At the appropriate time we will guide our clients through the process of enforcing a judgement and explain the various options of enforcement available to them.
If the claim is opposed by the debtor, then the matter will be entered for a pre-trial conference to be conducted before a court-appointed Registrar on a specified date convenient to the parties and their legal representatives.
A pre-trial conference is designed to provide a forum where the parties are freely able to discuss the matter in an endeavour to achieve a resolution of the claim. The Registrar will be present at the pre-trial conference to assist in this process A large proportion of legal proceedings are settled at this early stage of the litigation process.
In the rare instance, however, where no resolution is achieved at the pre-trial conference, the court will then give directions for the further conduct of the matter such as the filing of additional pleadings, discovery of documents and the like.
Our fees, excluding Court filing fees and other disbursements, for the following debt recovery steps in the Magistrates Court are as follows:
1. The initial letter of demand – $120.00 plus GST.
2. Drafting and settling the initiating General Procedure Claim – $300 plus GST.
3. Applications for entry of judgment by default – $120 plus GST
4. Applications for Pre-Trial Conferences – $200 plus GST
5. Attendance by us at the Pre-Trial Conference – the applicable Magistrates Court scale rate for such attendances.
We welcome agency work from Law Firms in the Eastern States and abroad.