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Debt Recovery
& Collection

Do you need advice in relation
to the recovery of a debt?

Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP, through several years of providing debt recovery services to many businesses in Kerry and nationwide and are skilled in the legal process that accompanies the debt collection procedure. Many clients are stressed and angry when they come to us seeking advice on how to recover legitimate debts due to them and are further frustrated that their own personal attempts to achieve repayment of the debt have yielded little or no success. Before, advancing to legal action, we would always advise clients that you initially pursue any pre-legal action that is available to you in the debt recovery process.

If debtors are consistently ignoring requests for unpaid debts and invoices, it is prudent to contact us here at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP to seek advice about issuing a Demand Letter. A Demand Letter will consolidate all the information, state the total amount due and give the debtor a certain timeframe to pay (usually 7 days). The letter will usually further state that if the debt is not repaid in full by this time, legal proceedings will be instituted and the debtor will be held liable for not only the debt, but also the costs of any such legal proceedings and any interest that has accrued. This correspondence will then form the basis for any court application for costs, and will be used as proof that reasonable efforts were made to allow the debtor repay before resorting to legal action.

Sometimes, a demand letter will be the only action required to have the desired effect and prompt the Debtor to make contact to finally either settle the debt or enter into negotiations with a view to doing so. Our role in Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP is to communicate on your behalf with the debtor and/or his legal representatives, considering all proposals put forward and advising you in relation to any commercial decisions as to how the debt should be collected, such as devising a payment plan etc.

If a settlement and/or payment plan is achieved and the debt is either collected in full or paid in agreed instalments, then quite happily there will be no requirement to resort to any legal action. However, if the issuance of a demand letter does not result in this outcome and the debtor further either ignores or disputes the debt, legal action will become necessary.

Where proceedings are issued depends on the amount of the debt that is owed:

  1. Debts of up to €15,000 are dealt with in the District Court;
  2. Debts of up between €15,001 and €75,000 are dealt with in the Circuit Court;
  3. Debts of over €75,000 are dealt with in the High Court.

The debt recovery team at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP will draft, issue and serve proceedings on your behalf. From the date of issue of the proceedings, the Debtor will have a certain timeframe within which to either pay the debt in full or enter what is known in legal terms as “an Appearance” in Court to defend the claim against made against them.

Once proceedings have issued and have been served, there are three possible scenarios which may come into play:

  1. The Debtor repays the debt in full- if this happens, you have reached a successful conclusion to your legal action without having been forced to go to Court – This is a great result.
  2. The Debtor ignores the proceedings – If this is the case, the legal team at Downing Courtney & Larkin LLP can take up a Judgment against the Debtor without going to Court.
  3. The Debtor defends the claim- In this scenario, the legal team at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP will liaise with you directly to advise you of the next steps to take in the debt recovery process, depending on which Court your proceedings issued in i.e. District, Circuit or High Court.

If you have arrived at this stage of the Debt Recovery process, one of two things has occurred.

  1. There has been no response to the legal proceedings by the Debtor;
  2. The Debtor has entered an appearance, and has attempted to defend the proceedings against him.

The next step of the procedure will be when we, as your legal representatives seek judgment for the claim made against the relevant debtor for the non-payment of the debt at hand and again a couple of scenarios arise:

  1. Recovery of your debt in the case where the Debtor has not defended the case or challenged the proceedings entered against them:

    In this scenario where neither an appearance or defence has been entered, a Plaintiff is entitled to move straight to obtaining Judgment. This is known as ‘summary judgment’ which is obtained in the office of the relevant court depending on the amount of the debt as discussed previously. If you obtain judgment in this way, you may also be awarded costs.

  2. Where the Debtor challenges or defends the claim made against them:
    Every Debtor and Defendant is possessed of the right to defend any proceedings brought against them and this process varies depending on the court on where proceedings have issued.

If your Debtor enters a Defence, the team at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP will be in immediate contact to discuss a strategy to review same and how best to proceed. Is the Defence valid and does it have merit? Or is this simply a delay tactic to hinder attempts to collect the debt. In collaboration with you, we will revise your options and you can instruct on how you wish to proceed.

Every individual case is different and in order to move forward, consideration must be given to the Court in which the case will proceed. Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP will expertly guide you throughout this process.

If you successfully obtain judgment in a defended case, a Judge will decide if you are entitled to your costs and also any claim for interest accruing. If, once judgment has been obtained, and the debtor repays the debt in full, then you have no need to advance any further in the debt recovery process and the matter should be at an end. However, if further issues still arise and the debtor attempts to evade payment, notwithstanding the Court ordered judgment, then there are a couple of avenues for you to explore in order to collect your debt.

Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP have many years of familiarity of enforcing Court judgments arising from debt collection matters are trusted advisors in this matter.

Usually once judgment has been obtained, we will write to the Debtor allowing them a further period of time (typically fourteen days) to repay the debt on foot of the Court order, failing which appropriate enforcement action will be taken. There are numerous enforcement remedies available to you to enforce your debt.

  1. Sherriff:
    Every county in Ireland has a Sherriff appointed to it. It is the role of the Sherriff to visit the premises of a debtor and seize and sell or collect any monies owed that can cover the debt, together with interest and legal costs accrued. The Sheriff is excluded from collecting tools of trade or any essential household items. This can sometimes be a fruitless exercise as often the Sherriff can decide that there are no goods worth seizing or selling.
  2. Registration of Judgment in the Office of the High Court:

    Once Judgment has been entered, it can be registered with the High Court and furthermore that the judgment can be published in Stubb’s Gazette, bringing it to the public’s attention.

  3. Judgment Mortgage:

    Once judgment has been made, a creditor can apply to have a Judgment Mortgage registered over any property which the debtor owns. This, in essence, prevents the Debtor from dealing with the property until such time as the debt has been repaid and also enables the creditor to sell the property (LL and CL to check – have a vague recollection of this power of sale)

  4. Instalment Order Application:

    An Instalment Order application compels a debtor to appear before the District Court to account for their means and ability to repay the debt, so that the Court can determine a suitable sum to be paid by way of instalments either weekly or monthly or some other fashion as the Court may determine. The repayments will commence once the order has been issued by the Court.

    If the debtor fails to meet the repayments per the conditions of the Instalment Order, then you as creditor are empowered to bring an application to the rt to have the debtor committed to prison for non-payment of the debt and non-compliance with the instalment order.

  5. Garnishee Order:

    This type of application may be an option where, you, the creditor are aware that the debt owed to you will be paid by a third party. The resultant garnishee order will compel the third party to pay the debt directly to you on behalf of the debtor who cannot afford to pay, so that the debt is fully discharged. The Garnishee order must have issued prior to the third party making any payment in respect of the debt.

  6. Liquidation:
    Liquidation allows a creditor the option to seek to wind up the debtor’s limited company, where the debtor itself is unable to pay. Threatening this course of action to a debtor may result in them discharging the debt quickly so as to avoid having their company wound up.

As is evident from the above, the options available to you when faced with an unpaid debt are pretty expansive. You can be reassured that Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP will assist you in obtaining clarity in ascertaining and distilling your options when faced with the prospect of collecting a debt and deciding the best course of action for your particular case.

Please feel free to contact us now  for a complimentary, no -obligation fee quotation and we will revert to you within 24 hours. Or you can telephone us directly on 064 6631061 and speak to a member of our team immediately.

*Please note that the advice above is demonstrative only, please contact us directly so that we can discuss your individual case

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