11 Jan The Legal Procedure for Debt Collection in Queensland
Australia enforces strict debt collection regulations. There are limits to how, when and why you can contact a debtor, which can make it difficult to recover your money.
If you’re dealing with a debtor who can’t or won’t repay their debt, you may be left with no choice but to explore your legal options. The legal procedure for debt collection in Queensland is relatively straightforward, but it can be time-consuming.
In this article we will discuss your options for recovering debts through Queensland’s legal system, and figure out which is the right choice for your situation.
Working with a Debt Collector
The best way to recover an outstanding debt is by working with a debt collector.
Your debt collection agency can help you resolve the matter privately. This is often the most time and cost-effective way to recover debt.
On your behalf, a debt collector is authorised to contact the debtor and negotiate an agreement. This may involve reducing the total amount of the debt and/or establishing a payment plan that suits their financial situation.
Australia has strict regulations surrounding debt collection and dealing with debtors. Working with a debt collector ensures your debt is collected legally and ethically, and minimises the risk of the debtor raising a complaint about your actions.
Commencing Legal Proceedings for Debt Collection
In some cases, your collections agency may recommend taking legal action against the debtor. This should be considered a last resort. Legal proceedings are time-consuming and they can be costly. They are also subject to strict time limits and evidentiary requirements, so achieving your desired outcome can be a challenge.
The legal route you take depends on the value of the outstanding debt:
- For amounts up to $25,000 – Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- For amounts up to $150,000 – Magistrates Court
- For amounts $150,000 to $750,000 – District Court
- For amounts over $750,000 – Supreme Court
Minor Debt Disputes Through QCAT
If you or your business is acting as a creditor and your debtor can’t or won’t repay their debt, you can recover your money in a few ways:
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) resolves minor debt disputes involving amounts up to $25,000.
You can begin the legal process by filing an application with the tribunal. Your claim is served on your debtor, and they are given 28 days to dispute the claim or pay their debt.
QCAT provides mediation services if the claim is disputed. If you can’t reach an agreement with your debtor, the matter proceeds to a QCAT hearing where you’ll need to present evidence and witnesses.
Following the hearing, QCAT will make a binding decision. QCAT may order the debtor to pay their debt (partially or in full, depending on the circumstances). This judgement can be enforced by the Magistrates Court.
The advantage of using QCAT is that the tribunal charges fixed fees for dealing with your matter. These fees are cost-effective when recovering small debts without using a solicitor.
The only thing to keep in mind is that QCAT matters are subject to strict time limits. If you wait too long to lodge your application, or if you fail to follow QCAT’s filing and evidence procedures, your claim may be dismissed.
It’s best to work with a professional debt collection agency if you want to pursue your matter through QCAT.
Debt Disputes Through the Court
If you’re owed more than $25,000, you will need court intervention to recover your money. You can apply to the Magistrates Court, District Court or Supreme Court, depending on the amount of money you’re owed.
The legal procedure for dealing with the court is similar to QCAT:
- You (the creditor) files a statement of claim with the relevant court.
- Your claim is served on the debtor, who is given time to respond to the claim or pay the debt.
- If the debtor disputes the claim, they can file a defence with the court.
- You will need to respond to the defence or request a court hearing.
It’s common for the courts to refer your matter to mediation before proceeding to a hearing. You’ll receive a hearing if you can’t reach a resolution with your debtor.
You should always retain legal representation when dealing with the court system. Speak to your debt collection agency about their legal representation services before applying to court.
How Money is Recovered Through the Courts
If QCAT makes a Decision, the other courts make a judgement in your favour, the debtor is legally obligated to repay their debt. Unfortunately, a debtor may still be unable or unwilling to pay, and the court may need to enforce the ruling.
QCAT and Queensland Courts can issue several types of enforcement warrants, including:
- Warrant for redirection of earnings. Also known as a garnishee order, this type of warrant allows you to collect money directly from a debtor’s income (such as their employer).
- Warrant for redirection of a debt. This allows you to collect your debt from anyone who owes money to the debtor (such as their bank or a customer).
- Warrant for seizure and sale of property. You may be able to seize certain types of property and sell them at public auction to satisfy your debt.
- Warrant for payment by instalments. An instalment order requires that a debt is repaid in weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments. Creditors and debtors can both apply to the court to establish an instalment order.
Enforcement warrants are a serious matter. The benefit is that they typically allow you to recover your debt from third parties, instead of relying on the debtor (except in the case of instalment warrants). This is useful for situations where a debtor is unwilling to pay.
If you are still struggling to recover a debt, you can apply to the court for an Enforcement Hearing. An Enforcement Hearing requires the debtor to confirm the following:
- Their financial situation
- Any assets that may be able to be seized
- Other documents you need to enforce your order
Navigate the Legal System with Support from Dynamic Commercial Collections!
Recovering a debt through Queensland’s legal system can be a drawn out process. It may be the best option in some cases, but we recommend avoiding legal proceedings wherever possible.
If you are struggling to recover a debt and need advice, the team at Dynamic Commercial Collections can help!
We’re an experienced debt collection agency with a 95% success rate. We use legal and ethical techniques to recover outstanding debts and ensure you receive as much of your money as possible.
For debt collection matters that require legal intervention, we provide support and advice through our in-house legal team. Whether you’re pursuing a debt through QCAT or the Supreme Court, we can ensure your obligations are met and give you the best chance of recovering your money.
Contact us today if you’re dealing with a complex debt collection matter. We can provide tailored advice and help you get your money back!