Your Debt Collection Process

The first thing to note about collection of debts is that you must follow certain practices in a particular order in order to eventually get the debt accepted by a debt collection agency (each agency will have it’s own criteria) or have success in court should it go that far. That order is outlined below:

  1. You must advise the other party of your non-negotiable terms and fees in advance where possible or at the earliest opportunity in the process.
    • It would be beneficial to you if you can get this signed by a commissioner for oaths or solicitor. This shows proof of contract.
  2. When the process is complete, you must give the other party an invoice for your actual expenses. This must be done on an ongoing basis or as soon as possible after the process is complete. Usually within 28 days unless you have very good reason for leaving it later.
    • It would be beneficial to you, but not necessary if you can get this signed by a commissioner for oaths or solicitor. This shows proof of initial collection attempt.
  3. You must submit at least 3 invoices as follows:
    • Initial invoice with 28 days (or any other suitable timeframe) to pay.
      • Its best not to make this timeframe too short or it could be deemed unreasonable. For example anything less than 14 days.
      • Specify if it is working days or not. For example:
        • 14 working days is almost 3 weeks, not 2.
        • You definitely don’t want to give them 28 working days as this is almost 2 months. So if you want to say 28 days, then say it specifically like this:

          Please submit payment within 28 days.

          Or words to this effect.
      • The standard practice is to give between 14 and 21 working days. This is 3 to 4 weeks.
    • A second invoice with a further 28 days (or other suitable timeframe) to pay. With all the same conditions as above.
      • Under no circumstances are you to make any threats to take matters further at this point.
      • You cannot change the terms at this point either. For example, altering the invoice to include costs for sending the second invoice.
    • A third invoice with a further 28 days (or other suitable timeframe) to pay.
      • At this point you should attach a warning letter stating:
        • Should the invoice remain unpaid further reminders will result in a doubling of the cost (should you wish it)
          • Be careful of this, if your invoice goes over €5,000 you cannot take it to the small claims court.
        • Should the invoice remain unpaid, you will seek legal advice and costs incurred will be charged accordingly.
        • Now you can attach other conditions and warnings of additional costs should you wish from this point forward.
          • For example, referring the matter to debt collections which will incur additional fees and expenses and affect their credit rating etc. etc. This is usually a better option than going to court.
            • But if you do refer the matter to a debt collection agency, you will never get the full amount due as the debt collection agency usually buys your debt at less than half its face value (if at all) and will want copies of all correspondence to ensure you have a valid contract and followed correct procedures.
    • A fourth invoice with a further 28 days (or other suitable timeframe) to pay.
      • At this point you can attach any additional conditions or expenses you wish, but again, keep it reasonable. If your expecting to get a billion euros or someone’s house for a debt of 3 or 4 thousand you may forget it.
    • Fifth and additional invoices are a waste of time and serve only to harass and increase yours and their expenses. A factor that will be considered in courts. After the fourth invoice above it is time to begin to allow the matter to change hands. Your options are:
      • Submit the matter to a court.
      • Allow a solicitor to handle it.
        • They will just do the same as you can do yourself and charge you for the privilege so we don’t recommend this).
        • Often a solicitors letter can scare the other party into action. Even if that action is only to consult a solicitor themselves and thereby incur costs and waste their time.
        • Very few people have the knowledge required to know that these can just as easily be ignored as any other letter, as a solicitor has no authority anyway.
      • Consider submitting it to a debt collection agency.
        • To do this you will need to have a registered company. Ironically enough, something that usually happens, as part of your de-registration from the system should you wish to take that step.
      • Try various less legal options to get your debt collected.

        All but the last of these processes will automatically result in the sending of additional letters anyway.

If you are having to deal with Garda issues and bench warrants, there is a different process to work through as follows:

  1. Call the Garda in question and ask to meet with the intention of having the charges withdrawn. Often if they are minor and you are polite and professional, this will be enough.
  2. If for some reason you cannot show up in court, a bench warrant will be issued. Talk to the warrants officer at the relevant station and tell them you were confused about the dates. In most cases, they will cancel the warrant and advise you of the next date you are due in court.
  3. If you cannot have the guard in question withdraw the charges, the next step is to write:
    • Motion to dismiss the case.
      • If your case is herd, you do not submit a plea of innocent nor guilty. You simply state that you want the case dismissed and that you are there under threat of force and do not consent to the proceedings.
    • An affidavit with a Table of expenses.
      These must be submitted to the court clerk office as soon as possible but at least a week before the court date where possible.
  4. While the Garda charges will be criminal in nature. Your case for expenses will be a matter handled through civil courts. From this point forward, it follows the same process as all other debt collection procedures except that your case is not against the individual Garda but the registered company known as the Government of Ireland.

When it comes to debt collection for members of our community. I would suggest that we as a community set up and operate our own debt collection agency where our members can come and have this process done for them. It would be less costly than a standard debt collection agency, or solicitor and we can include all aspects of the process. A complete package from start to finish. If anyone is interested in this, please let me know.