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Using the Legal System to Collect Debts in the ACT

Below is an overview of using the Legal system in the Australian Capital 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 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.

When collecting debts under $25,000, you must obtain Judgment through the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal ("ACAT") where the rules are more informal.  Once you obtain Judgment in ACAT, you undertake enforcement action through the Magistrates court. It should be noted that enforcement action in the ACT to collect debt can be expensive. Careful consideration is required.


Originating Claim and Statement of Liquidated Claim

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

  • Can be served personally or via post.

  • Can apply for Judgment 28 days after service

  • Costs are details below. Actual costs will vary with the cost of service and solicitors costs for debts under $10,000 in ACAT.
Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $9,999.99 $688.10
$10,000 to $24,999.99 $2,430.30
$25,000 to $39,999.99 $1,879.10
$40,000 to $49,999.99 $2,040.80
$50,000 to $99,999.99 $3,414.70
$100,000 to $250,000



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

  • Judgment stands for 12 years

  • A copy of the Judgment order must be served on the debtor and then you must wait 7 days before enforcement action can be undertaken

  • Costs are details below. In the $0 - $24,999.99 category, Solicitor attendance in ACAT can be lengthy and is charged at hourly rates, which are not included or allowed in the court scale rates.

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $9,999.99 $160.60
$10,000 to $24,999.99 $303.60
$25,000 to $39,999.99 $370.70
$40,000 to $49,999.99 $420.20
$50,000 to $99,999.99 $465.30
$100,000 to $250,000 $465.30


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

1. Enforcement Hearing

  • This is used where you are unaware of the debtors assets or employer.

  • 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.

  • The Registrar may make an Order for Instalments, Earnings Redirection or Seizure and Sale Order at this Hearing.

  • 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 $700). An solicitor must attend an exam.

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $9,999.99 $257.00
$10,000 to $24,999.99 $435.00
$25,000 to $39,999.99 $503.00
$40,000 to $49,999.99 $556.00
$50,000 to $99,999.99 $608.00
$100,000 to $250,000


******IMPORTANT NOTE*******

Owing to the costs of enforcement action, before initiating any of the below it is strongly recommended that you are fully informed of the debtors financial position such that your enforcement action is likely to yield a result.

2. Redirection Orders

  • There are three types - Earning Redirection, Debt Redirection and Regular Redirection.

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

  • The financial institution, employer or debtor may apply to rescind or vary the Order on the grounds of financial hardship.

  • Documents are served on the financial institution or employer.

  • A copy of the order must be served on the debtor within 5 days of service on the employer or financial institution.

  • Documents are served on the financial institution or employer.

  • Court scale costs are detailed below. Additional costs will be incurred for service (approximately $250) and attendance where the time attended exceeds the solicitors scale costs (unknown, but could be from $500 to over $1,000 depending on the length of time)

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $9,999.99 $1,122.00
$10,000 to $24,999.99 $1,979.00
$25,000 to $39,999.99 $2,306.00
$40,000 to $49,999.99 $2,560.00
$50,000 to $99,999.99 $2,811.00
$100,000 to $250,000


3. Seizure and Sale Order

  • 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.

  • Court scale costs are detailed below and includes three attempts by the sheriff.

Debt Amount Court Scale Costs
$0.01 to $9,999.99 $1,252.00
$10,000 to $24,999.99 $1,876.00
$25,000 to $39,999.99 $2,114.00
$40,000 to $49,999.99 $2,297.00
$50,000 to $99,999.99 $2,481.00
$100,000 to $250,000

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 $470.

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


Workflow of using the Legal System in the Australian Capital Territory to recover your debts

A copy of this can be downloaded here; 

Workflow of the ACT Legal System to collect debts Workflow of the ACT Legal System to collect debts (52 KB)

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