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Using the Legal System to Collect Debts in New South Wales

Below is an overview of using the Legal system in New South Wales to collect debts. The information provided in this overview does not constitute legal advice, but rather is provided to Creditors as an overview of the steps that could be taken to obtain payments in collection of a debt. Each debt collection case is different. It is our debt collection practice to use the legal system through our associated Law Firm, Collection Law Partners, where it is likely that payments will result. Some Creditors use the legal system and Bankruptcy action out of principle (knowing they will not receive any economic benefit) or to establish a reputation with debtors so they are taken seriously and placed first in the queue of creditors that will receive payments when the debtor elects to make payments.

Included in the overview is a workflow to assist in the understanding of the process. The workflow is located after the article. You may also like to download a copy of this workflow for you own records. A link for the download is at the end of this article.

The court scale costs (including court filing fee costs, allowed process server costs and scale solicitor costs)  advised below are current as at July 2018, and are subject to change. There are other fees and charges for some actions that have no permitted court scale rate which cannot be added to the debt, but still payable. The court scale costs are for undefended matters only.

Statement of Liquidated Claim

After expiry of a default notice the initiating action in the Local Court is a Statement of Liquidated Claim (also referred to as a SLC).

  • The SLC can be served via post or in person

  • You can apply for Judgment 28 days after service

  • Costs are details below;
Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $1,000 $522.20
$1,000.01 to $5,000 $660.80
$5,000.01 to $10,000 $799.40
$10,00.01 to $20,000 $1,095.40
$20,000.01 to $100,000 $1,234.00



  • This action formally registers the debt with the court and allows further collection action.
  • Judgment stands for 12 years.

  • The costs are details below

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $1,000 $124.08
$1,000.01 to $5,000 $186.12
$5,000.01 to $10,000 $186.12
$10,000.01 to $20,000 $248.16
$20,000.01 to $100,000 $310.20

Once Judgment is granted then there are 4 choices of enforcement proceedings available.

1. Oral Examination

  • This is used where you are unaware of Debtors Assets and or Employment.

  • An examination Notice must be issued first and not returned for 28 days prior to applying for an Oral Examination.

  • Documents are personally served on the debtor to attend court.

  • The hearing is conducted by the Registrar and debtor must provide details of income expenses and assets.

  • If the debtor doesn’t attend then you can apply for an arrest warrant.

  • Court Scale Costs are detailed below. There will be additional costs for service and attendance of the Exam (approximately $200). An agent may attend an exam.
Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $100,000 $555.00

2. Garnishee Order.

  • There are two types - Garnishee Order for Debts or Garnishee Order for Salary or Wages.

  • You must know the financial institution details or employers details.

  • Documents are served on the financial institution or employer.

  • Garnishee Order for Debts - Financial institution advises of amount garnished (if any). There are protected monies (Centrelink Benefits) that you may not receive. This is a one off payment unlike a Garnishee for Salary or Wages.

  • Garnishee Order for Salary / Wages - Employer remits all amounts over the Weekly Workers Compensation Amount ($500.60 as at July 2018) within 14 days and for as long as debtor remains employed or until the debt satisfied.

  • Garnishee for Order Salary / Wages - Debtor can attend their nearest local court and lodge a Garnishee Instalment order to reduce the amount paid. Needs to justify this to the registrar with supporting income, expenses, assets & liabilities.

  • There is no court fee or allowable court cost for this action. Any fees incurred are not recoverable from the debtor. There are fees involved in the preparation of the order and service of the order.

3. Writ

  • The Sheriff attends property of debtor to demand payment and tag any assets of value.

  • If payment cannot be made, goods to the value of the debt are seized and sold.

  • The Debtor can lodge an instalment order to stay the action

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $100,000 $339.00

4. Bankruptcy

  • For a more detailed overview of Bankruptcy, please visit the Bankruptcy overview section of our website.

  • Judgment must be obtained then a bankruptcy notice served.

  • Once Bankruptcy notice has expired then Bankruptcy can be applied.

  • Once bankruptcy obtained all debts owed by the debtor are captured under the Bankruptcy.

  • The AFSA filing fee for a bankruptcy notice is $470.

  • The Creditors Petition / Sequestration Order and appointment of a Trustee cost is approximately $12,000.


Workflow of using the Legal System in New South Wales to recover your debts

Download of the workflow;

Workflow of NSW Legal System to collect debts Workflow of NSW Legal System to collect debts (93 KB)



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