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Debt Collection News


Released every month our debt collection blog contains news, stories and tips to keep you informed.

Debt Collection News Goes Quarterly

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

As most of our subscribers are aware we have released our newsletter every month for the last 10 years and have released over 550 free articles covering debt collection news around the world as well as debt collection tips and advice.

We have decided that our blog and newsletter will now be released quarterly following this issue. 

We hope that this change will result in more feature packed articles and news. If there are industry specific changes that we believe will have an impact on our industry we will release this information via our social networking channels on Facebook and LinkedIn.

We thank you for your continued support and loyalty and look forward to continuing to provide this free service.


Local Council Waives $760K in Debt

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

A local council in Perth has recently waived in excess of $760,000 in debt because staff overlooked referring the debts to their debt collection agency.

The Town of Victoria Park found that 11,148 unpaid fines, mainly from parking infringements, had failed to be outsourced for collection after a clerical error was discovered. Of those discovered as being unpaid 8,000 were uncollectable due to the limitation period expiring. With the oversight identified council wrote to the 1,000 of the larger unpaid debts demanding payment however only 49 were paid returning the council $6,617.

With council estimating that approximately $3,000 had been spent in attempting to recover the debts, which did not account for staff time, Councillors made the decision not to pursue the debt and agreed to write-off $767,199.13 at the June council meeting. Cr Karen Vernon stated that the unrecoverable debt was "disappointing on so many levels" as the money could have been utilised to make a difference to significant community projects or to pay down further debt owed by the council. Town of Victoria Park would not confirm to the Southern Gazette if any council staff were dismissed over the error.

In a statement to the media, Victoria Park Chief Executive Anthony Vulete said that their debt collection policy and practices were being reviewed and accepted that the situation was an administrative failure.


Veterinary Surgeon Says Unpaid Debts is Stealing

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

A veterinary surgeon based in Western Australia has recently come out in the Sydney Morning Herald saying that unpaid invoices for veterinary care is ".... essentially stealing from someone".

Dr Belinda Beynon said that in January 2018 that a distressed woman approached the surgery with 2 dogs that had been bitten by snakes. Having spent 13 years working in an emergency veterinary clinic, Dr Beynon, knew that the procedure would cost the owner a minimum of $3,000. The owner claimed to be unable to pay the full balance immediately and would pay $1,500 upfront and pay the balance within the week.

With both dogs surviving treatment the surgery attempted to contact the owner by phone and mail before referring the debt to a debt collection agency who also failed in their attempts to recover the debt. Dr Beynon wrote-off the debt and put it down to a bad experience.

Recently Dr Beynon said that she had new clients come in with a dog that required treatment however was undecided if she should commence treatment or not. Dr Beynon said that while her professional judgement said to treat the animal her business owner experience told her that they couldn't afford to.

While Dr Beynon was able to eventually authorise the treatment through financial assistance she said in a statement, "What I’ve tried to explain to people in the past ... is that what a vet charges is not always related to the quality of the work that they do. I guess I would say ... if you go into a veterinary practice and you request veterinary care, and you promise to pay something and then you don’t do it, you’re not taking away someone’s holiday to Fiji or a fancy piece of jewellery. That might mean they can’t pay their kids school fees that week. They might not be able to pay the drug bill that week. They’re not getting away with something – they’re essentially stealing from someone. Perhaps if more people gave more thought to the families behind the building and the impact it has, then perhaps they might question their own motives a bit more."


Service of Documents in NSW Extended

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Posted by Philip Harvey

Recent changes in NSW have extended the amount of to 7 working days for documents served by regular post (an increase from 4 working days). A working day is deemed to be a day that is not a weekend or a public holiday.

This change effects documents particular to NSW. It does not change Consumer Credit Notices (such as s88 default notices).

For example, some of the notices impacted include;

  • Mortgage Default Notices under the Real Property Act (NSW)
  • NSW Statement of Claim posted by the Local Court
  • NSW Examination Notices

This article is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice. 


Australian Government To Crack Down On Late Paying Large Corporations & Government Departments {Update}

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

You may recall in our November 2016 edition of Debt Collection news that there were moves within the Government to crack down on late paying large corporations and Government departments. 

It appears that this issue has been raised again with the Small Business Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, telling Fairfax Media that she was again conducting a review of payment times and the impact that this has on cash-flow on small businesses in Australia.

This again follows the Ombudsmans review into payment times last year, which we covered in Australian SMEs Owed More Than $10,000, which identified Australian payment times as the worst in the world with invoices paid, on average, 26.4 days past due. In a statement to the media Ms Carnell said, "It is big businesses using small business as a cheap bank," Ms Carnell said. "It really does slow down the economy. Poor cash flow is the primary reason for insolvency in Australia.”

The recent move by the Ombudsman appears to have been prompted by Small Business Minister, Michaelia Cash, who requested in writing advice from the Ombudsman for advice as to the impact payment practices have on small business. Ms Cash said, "I am still getting reports of payment terms of 60, 90 or 120 days or alternatively loans for extended payment terms. I find that very troubling particularly when cash flow is king for small businesses. It continues to be an issue and we will tackle it."

Following last years inquiry the Business Council of Australia launched a voluntary code to ensure that small businesses were paid within 30 days of an invoice being issued. With, however only 47 of 139 members, subscribing to the Code there is now some consideration being given to passing legislation in which to compel payment to ensure small businesses continue to survive.

A short survey is available online for small businesses to complete about the payment times they encounter. 


Instructing on Archived Debts

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Did you know that you can instruct us via our online portal for new, current but also archived debts?

We sometimes see new debts opened online where an existing account already exists. This leads to duplicate files being opened and while this does not cause us any problems we find that by maintaining only 1 file for each account type, whether this be a personal loan, overdraft, overdrawn savings account, that it allows you to find the updated information you need for reporting quickly and easily and provides a full debt history.

This month we've created an instructional video, which you can download, which shows how you can quickly and easily locate your previously closed accounts and instruct us to re-open them. Alternatively if you need any additional assistance please contact us.

If you liked this video and would like to see more please let us know.

Note: Please note that the video is is approximately 60mb in size and in Windows Media Video File format (.wmv). Please make enquiries with your internal IT department prior to downloading to ensure that by downloading this video you are not breaching any of your businesses policies.


Is It Legal to Charge Interest to a Debt?

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

It's a question that we come across on a regular basis from our commercial clients and one that is more common than you may think.

Interest is the price (charge) paid for the use of someone else's money. For commercial clients, it is a charge that your clients pay when they don't pay that your invoice by the due date. When they don't pay you on the due date, they are effectively borrowing money from your organisation.

While those in the finance industry often have very well worded Contracts and Terms and Conditions that allow the calculation of an annual percentage rate (APR) many small business owners struggle to understand the requirements and while they understand the practical value of incurring interest they worry about the practicalities of applying additional interest fees or charges to an outstanding account.


Can you charge interest to a debt?

The short answer to this question is yes provided your terms and conditions permit it. There are however strict requirements you must meet in order for your claim for interest to be legally collectable, and we would recommend you seek legal advice to ensure your interest charges are recoverable.



What are the requirements?
There should be a provision in your Contract, Agreement and / or Terms and Conditions for the calculation of interest that the customer has agreed to prior to monies being advanced for the goods or services you have provided. This provision should be easy to understand, outline to the customer exactly when interest charges may apply, how they are calculated, the date that interest may start to accrue on the debt and should be a fair and reasonable rate.


What is a fair and reasonable rate?

A fair and reasonable rate can be difficult to determine however most businesses charge between 5% to 10% per annum. The interest charge should be at a rate that is a genuine estimate of the cost of the late payment to your business (ie your banks overdraft rate). Anything higher than this may not be enforceable. 

The Local Court of NSW currently prescribes a pre-Judgment interest rate of 5.50%. This rate is 4.00% above the cash rate last published by the Reserve Bank of Australia and is reviewed every 6 months. The current rates can be found at Interest Rates Applicable After 1 July 2010.


Should you charge interest?

Charging interest to a debt can have pros and cons, and is ultimately a commercial decision. Where a customer knows that interest may be charged on an overdue account or invoice it is often incentive enough for them to pay on time. On the other hand you may alienate a particular customer who may take their business elsewhere. While you may offer a better product or service than your competitor, applying interest to a debt could be the very reason you lose business.

In a situation like this it is often better to communicate to your customer that their payment is late and granting an extension for payment before charging interest and being flexible enough to agree to waive these charges if a customer can be retained.


Is there a minimum amount I can charge interest on?
In NSW the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005 states the following:

36.7 Payment of Interest
(2) The Local Court may not order the payment of interest up to judgment in any proceedings in which the amount claimed is less than $1,000.


While interest may be charged on a debt less than $1,000, assuming that this is clearly set out in your Contract, Agreement and / or Terms and Conditions, it will, if legal proceedings prove necessary, be at the discretion of the Court as to whether or not interest will be awarded.

Have a question about interest, fees or charges? We recommend that you speak with Collection Law Partners or a qualified legal practitioner.

Disclaimer: This article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to be relied on in any way.

Limitation Period for Body Corporate Debt Recovery

Thursday, September 27, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

There has been some anxious times recently for body corporates who have been eagerly awaiting the decision in the Queensland Court of Appeal in Body Corporate for Mount Saint John Industrial Park Community Title Scheme 18632 v Superior Stairs & Joinery Pty Ltd [2018] QCA 173.

In the District Court the Defendant, Superior Stairs & Joinery Pty Ltd (STJ) argued that the action by the Plaintiff, Body Corporate for Mount Saint John Industrial Park Community Title Scheme 18632 (Body Corporate), should be struck out after action was taken for the recovery of unpaid levies, recovery costs and penalty sums on the basis that the proceedings were commenced outside of the limitation period. STJ arguies that the limitation period for bringing body corporate debt recovery action was contained in Section 145 of the Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008 (QLD) -

Part 4 Payment and Enforcement of Body Corporate Debts
s145 Payment and Recoery of Body Corporate Debts

(1) If a contribution or contribution instalment is not paid by the date for payment, the body corporate may recover each of the following amounts as a debt -
(a):  the amount of the contribution or instalment;
(b) any penalty for not paying the contribution or instalment;
(c) any costs (recovery costs) reasonably incurred by the body corporate in recovering the amount.
(2) If the amount of a contribution or contribution instalment has been outstanding for 2 years, the body corporate must, within 2 months from the end of the 2-year period, start proceedings to recover the amount.

STJ successfully argued in the District Court that the time limit for recovery of a debt by the body corporate was 2 years and 2 months pursuant to s145(2) however the Body Corporate submitted at the time that the time limit was 6 years from the date the levy became due and payable pursuant to Section 10 of the Limitations of Actions Act 1974 (QLD).

 The District Court agreed with STJ at the time however on appeal, the Court of Appeal, overturned the District Courts decision. In the decision Justice McMurdo, Justice Mullins and Justice Bond stated that the issue raised on appeal was not that of conflicting limitation periods but whether or not s145 prescribes a limitation period. The Justices concluded that s145 is to compel a body corporate to commence proceedings but cannot be interpreted as a limitation period and therefore s10 of the Limitiation of Actions Act is the governing legislation (ie 6 years from the date the contribution becomes outstanding).


Victoria Plans Crackdown on Debt Collection Industry

Monday, July 30, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

The Labor party in Victoria has planned a crackdown on debt collection in Victoria if re-elected at the November State election.

news.com.au and radio 3AW 693 are reporting that organised crime groups will be the focus of a planned State Government crackdown on the debt collection industry with Police Minister, Lisa Neville, announcing earlier this month an overhaul of the regulations. In a statement to the media she said, "We'll clean up this industry, like we did with scrap metal - to tackle organised crime and crack down on rogue operators."

The Labor Government, if re-elected, would like to establish a dedicated commission and harsher penalties for those involved in unlicensed debt debt collection in Victoria and would work more closely with the police, Consumer Affairs Victoria and industry leaders to clean-up the industry.

Chief Executive of the Australian Collectors and Debt Buyers, Alan Harriers, said in response, "If they are that [sic] then it's up to Fair Trading to stop them as being illegal persons doing debt collection. I am unaware of any prosecutions against people in this regard. If they were actual proper debt buyers, they would hold an Australian credit licence that is issued by ASIC. It's a very highly regulated industry."

In Victoria there is not a legal requirement in which to hold a debt collection licence.


Issue 100 Debt Collection News

Thursday, June 28, 2018 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

Our Debt Collection News blog and newsletter started back in July 2009 with our first article REVS - Putting Them on and Keeping Them Current.

Since then we've covered a whole range of things from street lights being repossessed, providing support to our local communities by being a supportive employer of the NSWRFS, sharing community awareness articles such as suicide awareness, donating to appeals such as Give Me 5 For Kids and  more recently keeping you up-to-date about changes to the EDR Scheme.

Here's some pretty impressive numbers we've collated over the last 9 years:

  • 757,000 people have visited our website since July 2009.
  • On average we attract 7,600 visitors to our site each year. 
  • We have provided in excess of 60 resources that can be downloaded from our website for free.
  • We average 1,754 views of our blog per month.
  • Over 42,000 unique visitors have read an article on our blog at some time in the last 9 years. 
  • Over 500 articles have now been published and can be searched on our website.
  • Our article Australian Electoral Searches Cannot Be Used for Debt Collection has been viewed more than 12,000 times.
  • We have answered approximately 3,200 website enquiries.
  • 340 active subscribers open and read our newsletter each month.

We have also for some time now been publishing our blog across social media including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google and have always encouraged our articles to be shared, not only within your team, but also others in your industry.

Over the coming months our website, blog and newsletter will be getting an update which we hope will make our site more user friendly, easier to navigate and compatible across mobile and tablet devices. Please continue to provide us feedback about the news and tips you would like to read by dropping us an email.


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