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Using the Legal System in the Northern Territory to Collect Debts

Below is an overview of using the Legal system in the Northern Territory 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 2014, 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.

The Northern Territory is unique compared to other jurisdictions in that it requires a hearing to obtain Default Judgment. This adds additional costs to the process as it involves solicitor attendance at the local court.

Statement of Liquidated Claim

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

  • The claim must be served personally.

  • You can apply for Judgment 28 days after service.

  • Costs are detailed below. For amounts under $5,000, the court typically does not allow the cost of the action to be added to the debt. The actual cost may vary as the court allows the charging to be based on a time spent basis. The cost to have the claim served is not included in the below.

Debt Amount Costs (these will vary) Not all recoverable
$0.01 to $4,999.99 $507.00
$5,000 to $9,999.99 $607.00
$10,000 to $19,999.99 $844.00
$20,00 to $100,000 $1,132.00



  • This action formally registers the debt with the court and allows further collection action.

  • Judgment stands for 12 years.

  • You cannot enter Judgment without a hearing.

  • Costs are outlined below. These costs will vary depending on the amount of time spent at the hearing to obtain Judgment.

Debt Amount Costs (these will vary) Not all recoverable
$0.01 to $4,999.99 $393.00
$5,000 to $9,999.99 $493.00
$10,000 to $19,999.99 $593.00
$20,00 to $100,000 $793.00


Once Judgment has been granted then there 4 choices of enforcement proceedings;


1. Summons for Oral Examination

  • This is used where you are unaware of Debtors Assets,  or employer.

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

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

  • If 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).
Debt Amount Costs (these may vary)
$0.01 to $100,000 $416.00


2. Attachment of Earnings

  • There are two types of attachments of earnings, a Attachment of Earnings and a Garnishee Order

  • documents are served on the debtor 14 days prior to the allocated hearing

  • Debtor must complete and return to the Court a declaration of financial circumstances not later than 7 days before the allocated hearing and serve a copy of the Creditor.

  • The amount of the deduction is dependent on the debtors financial position and capacity to make payments. 

  • The cost of the action is likely to be around $500. But it is variable based on solicitor time spent at a hearing and service of the hearing on the debtor.


3. Warrant of Seizure and Sale

  • The Sheriff attends property of the 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 Costs (these may vary)
$0.01 to $4,999.99 $550
$5,000 to $19,999.99 $650
$20,00 to $100,000 $750


4. Bankruptcy

  • 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 $440.

  • The Creditors Petition / Sequestration Order and appointment of a Trustee cost is approximately $10,000 - $12,000.


Workflow of the Legal Process

A copy of this workflow can be downloaded here;

Workflow of the Northern Territory legal system to collect debts Workflow of the Northern Territory legal system to collect debts (42 KB)


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