Overview of Litigation

DebtCol can manage the process of debt recovery by way of legal action. Each step or stage of legal action can be recorded, together with key dates relating to each stage, such as date prepared, issued and served.

It is necessary to ensure each of the following aspects of this section are first setup and then a series of action wizards can be created to act out each step or stage of legal recovery from originating claim, Court judgment and various enforcement proceedings.

Below is a step by step guide for setting up litigation inside DebtCol.

  • Create legal types. These are assigned to clients and debtors and aid in determining what to charge for certain Court relates fees such as service fees
  • Jurisdictions must be setup for each jurisdiction you are issuing proceedings in. An interest rate table must be created with the same code as it’s corresponding jurisdiction, then linked to the jurisdiction.
  • Ensure the interest rate schedule is up-to-date. The IC command can be used within Action Wizards at each stage to automatically calculate the Court interest.
  • Causes/Nature of Claim records allow you to stipulate your short form pleadings. Use the merge fields within the screen to embed variable information such as date of debt and amount. Each client will have a cause code or nature of business, so these are automatically set on each case/debt for that client. Therefore these short form pleadings are consequently assigned to the cases. You can change the cause on a case by case basis at any time using the CC shortcut/command from within the case manager, or from within an action wizard.
  • Ensure that all Courts you will be issuing proceedings in, are setup. Then you can assign the necessary Court to each case at the originating claim stage. Once a Court is assigned to a case, it’s details can be merged into the Court Precedents, or electronic lodgement files (whichever option you go with).
  • Decide whether you will be using Court Precedents to manually lodge proceedings at court, or look at using online or other electronic means for issuing. For electronic lodgement options, in NSW you can use JusticeLink eServices and in most other states you can use Compucourt. Speak to DebtCol Software for more information.
  • Create action wizards for each stage:-
    • Stage 1 – Originating Claim
      • Ensure your action wizard runs the command CL to commence legal action.
      • Run the command LJ and assign the legal jurisdiction
      • Run the command CO and assign the Court
      • Run the command SO and assign the solicitor for the Plaintiff
      • Run the command IBS to calculate any interest before summons. If your clients terms and conditions allow for interest to be charged on overdue debts, assign the interest rate to the client settings. The interest rate will be automatically assigned to cases created for that client and the interest calculator will calculate and apply interest from the date of debt to the current date.
      • Run the command MS and assign the originating claim step
      • Add Court Filing fees to the action
      • Add Solicitors Costs to the action
      • Add Service Fees to the action
      • If producing the legal precedent from DebtCol, select the original claim document from the list
      • Add any notation you would like added to the case such as “Originating Claim Prepared”
      • Set a number of days to delay until the case should appear on a work queue for review.
      • Run the command ST and assign a status to show that the case is at the stage of preparing the originating claim.
    • Stage 2 – Originating Claim Issued and prepared for service
      • Run the command DSI to prompt the user, when running the action, to enter the date the claim was issued. Ensure you define the originating claim as the legal step required for this command.
      • Run the command API to prompt the user, when running the action, to enter the plaint or proceeding number issued from the Court
      • Set a number of days to delay until the case should appear on a work queue for review.
      • Run the command ST and assign a status to show that the case is at the stage of preparing the originating claim.
      • Run the command AG and assign an agent to manage the service of the claim.
      • Add any notation you would like added to the case such as “Originating Claim out for Service”
    • Stage 3 – Originating Claim served.
      • Refer to the section of this guide relating to the document service manager.
    • Stage 4 – Application for Judgment
      • Run the command DAO and set the command variable to +0. This sets the date that application was applied for to the current system date. Ensure you define judgment as the legal step required for this command.
      • Set a number of days to delay until the case should appear on a work queue for review.
      • Run the command ST and assign a status to show that the case is at the stage of applying to the Court for Judgment.
      • Add any Court or other charges relating to the application for Judgment.
      • Run the IC command to calculate interest at the Court rates up to the current day.
      • Run the command MS and assign the judgment step
      • Add any notation you would like added to the case such as “Application for Judgment Made”.
    • Stage 5 – Judgment Obtained
      • Run the command ST and assign a status to show that the case is at the stage of having Judgment Obtained by the Courts.
      • Add any notation you would like added to the case such as “Court Judgment Obtained”.
      • Run the command JE to prompt the user to enter the details of the judgment date, debt, costs and interest ordered.
    • Stage 6 and beyond – Enforcement options
      • You may enforce judgment in a number of ways from seizure of goods through to garnishee of wages. The key things to remember are:-
        • Run the command MS and assign the enforcement step being taken
        • Set a number of days to delay until the case should appear on a work queue for review.
        • Run the command ST and assign a status to show that the case is at the stage of enforcing the judgment.
        • Run the IC command to calculate interest at the Court rates up to the current day.
        • Add any notation you would like added to the case which reflects the type of enforcement being taken.
        • Some enforcement steps will require legal documents to be served upon the debtor. In such cases, use the document service manager to record service details.

Fortunately DebtCol has done most of the hard work creating all the above actions for all jurisdictions. Here is a link to a list of them ready and waiting for you to use them.

Legal Types

Tools > Workflow Setup > Litigation Tools > Legal Types

Legal Types are pre-stored definitions which identify legal entities. The text recorded here can then be merged into legal documents if required.

Legal Types are assigned to clients and debtors.

Creating a new Legal Type

A legal type code must be unique. Enter your new legal type code in the "Code" field.

IMPORTANT: The code should not contain any spaces or characters other than letters or numbers; except a full stop.

Describe the legal type in the field labeled “Description”. This is what the users will see in the debtor and client maintenance screens.

In the text area labeled “Plaintiff Text” enter the text to describe the legal entity of the plaintiff.

In the text area labeled “Defendant Text” enter the text to describe the legal entity of the defendant/debtor.

Click “Save” to save.

Legal Jurisdictions

Legal Jurisdictions are pre-stored definitions which identify legal jurisdictions and their respective rules. When legal action is initiated a legal jurisdiction must be assigned to the case and this will determine the interest rate and calculation rules, commencing legal step, judgment step and bailiff enforcement step among other rules to govern the case.

Legal Jurisdictions are assigned to debtors. They can be assigned from within an action by selecting it from the command field as shown below.

Legal Jurisdictions can also be assigned within the Case Manager from the shortcut field (LJ) as shown below.

Creating a new Legal Jurisdiction

Tools > Workflow Setup > Litigation Tools > Legal Jurisdictions

A legal jurisdiction code must be unique. Enter your new legal jurisdiction code in the "Code" field.

IMPORTANT: The code should not contain any spaces or characters other than letters or numbers; except a full stop.

Describe the legal jurisdiction in the field labeled “Description”.

Select the commencing step of litigation for the jurisdiction.

Select the judgment step for the jurisdiction.

Select the Examination step for the jurisdiction

Select the Bailiff Enforcement step for the jurisdiction.

State the costs percentage of the original debt that is allowed on cases for the jurisdiction. When adding costs to the case, if the total reaches or exceeds this percentage, an alert will appear advising the user. If the users’ security allows them to override it, they will be able to proceed; otherwise the action will be aborted.

Enter the location of all sworn legal documents. This location is a merge field available for use in documents and reports.

Select the default court for issuing legal proceedings in the jurisdiction.

If interest is calculated on debts above a certain value, enter the formula in the table.

Select the rules for calculating interest after judgment where indicated.

If you can calculate interest on costs after judgment, tick where indicated.

If you can calculate interest in interest after judgment, tick where indicated.

Click “Save” to save.

Cause Codes – Nature of Business Codes

Tools > Workflow Setup > Litigation Tools > Cause/Nature of Claim Codes

Cause codes are pre-stored definitions which detail the nature of business between the plaintiff (client) and the defendants (debtors). When legal action is initiated a cause code can be assigned to the case that will help plead the claim.

Cause Codes are assigned to clients and debtors. They are assigned to clients so that new debts created for the client will automatically inherit the nature of business.

They can be assigned from within an action by selecting it from the command field as shown below.

Cause Codes can also be assigned within the Case Manager from the shortcut field (CC) as shown below.

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Creating a new Cause Code

A cause code must be unique. Enter your new cause code in the "Code" field.

IMPORTANT: The code should not contain any spaces or characters other than letters or numbers; except a full stop.

Describe the cause or nature of business in the field labeled “Description”.

Enter the cause code for electronic lodgement if required. If using Compucourt, contact them to attain their cause codes. If using JusticeLink, contact them to attain their cause codes.

Enter the pleadings for when there is only a single defendant/debtor where indicated.

Enter the pleadings for when there is more than one defendant/debtor where indicated.

There is a field available to merge the pleadings text into documents.

Enter the pleadings for interest calculated where indicated. There is a field available to merge this text into documents.

If required, enter the type of claim where indicated. There is a field available to merge this text into documents.

Tip: Where variable information is required within the pleadings such as amounts and dates specific to each case, use the merge fields listed on the right of the page. For example: “The Plaintiff claims the sum of @ClaimAmt”.

Click “Save” to save.

Interest Rates

Tools > Workflow Setup > Litigation Tools > Interest Rates

For each jurisdiction, the court issues an interest rate for legal claims. Here you must log changes to the interest rates for each jurisdiction.

Enter the existing interest rate code in the "Code" field. If you do not know the code click the search button on the toolbar and perform a lookup.

Once you have entered the code, the record will be opened for you to amend accordingly.

Make your amendments then click “Save” to save your changes.

IMPORTANT: Each time a court jurisdiction alters the court interest rate, you must add a new row and record the date of the change and the new interest rate. The interest calculator uses these dates when the system is calculating court interest over the age of a debt.

Courts

Make sure you have setup the Court(s) you are issuing in. The Court of Issue should be assigned to the case so as to determine interest rates for the interest calculator.

Legal Steps / Service Documents

Tools > Workflow Setup > Litigation Tools > Legal Steps/Service Documents

Legal Steps are pre-stored definitions which reflect each key step or stage of the legal process and record key information such as date of issue, date of service, costs and interest charges and payments received at each step or stage.

Legal Steps are assigned to cases from within an action by selecting it from the command field as shown below.

Creating a new Legal Step

A legal step code must be unique. Enter your new legal step code in the "Code" field.

IMPORTANT: The code should not contain any spaces or characters other than letters or numbers; except a full stop.

Describe the legal step in the field labeled “Description”.

If the legal step can be executed more than once, tick “Allow Repeat”.

Enter the most common source of knowledge. This is required if using the JusticeLink system because their XML files require to know where the source of your knowledge is for certain Affidavits.

JusticeLink Document Type Maintenance

Create all the required lodgement stages available in JusticeLink.

The document name is used to help users determine what is being dispatched to XML from the JusticeLink Document Dispatch option. It may also be used within the JusticeLink Affidavit of Service to specify the document that has been served.

“Queued Document Notation” contains the text of the case manage note when the document has been queued and awaiting dispatch.

“Dispatch Document Notation” contains the text of the case manager note when the document has been dispatched to XML for the JusticeLink eServices system.

“Dispatch Program” contains the name of the program that produces the XML.