Protecting Your Business

What Services Do You Provide To Businesses That Are Attempting To Collect Debt?

We provide end-to-end services. This includes pre-litigation collection efforts, which involves sending demand letters, making phone calls, and negotiating settlements. If pre-litigation efforts are not successful and it makes economic sense for our client to proceed with litigation, then we will file a lawsuit. The vast majority of cases will either result in a judgment in our client’s favor or the case will settle while in litigation. If a judgment is obtained, we will then proceed to post-judgment enforcement, which is something that many lawyers are not experienced in handling. With over 30 years in practice, we know the tools are available to not only obtain a judgment but collecting it as well. Also, when working with clients on collection matters, we generally work on a contingency basis. This which means that we take a percentage of the recovery; if we don’t recover anything for the client, then no fee is owed. Many clients find this appealing because it dramatically reduces their risk in pursuing a collection matter.

What Is The Difference Between Commercial Collections Done By A Collection Agency And The Services That Your Law Firm Provides?

Collection agencies are not law firms, which means they can’t file lawsuits and cannot represent anyone in court or arbitration. In fact, all they can do is write letters and make phone calls. This means that if they can’t convince a debtor to pay by using these techniques, then the matter is likely going to wind up in the hands of an attorney. Oftentimes, this happens many months down the road after a lot of time and effort has already been wasted. For this reason, it is best to use an experienced collections attorney from the start. An experienced attorney can do everything a collection agency can do, but also commence legal action if necessary. Furthermore, collection agencies cannot practice law and therefore properly advise their clients on all the tools that may be available.

Can A Debtor File Bankruptcy? Is There Anything That Can Be Done To Collect On A Debt Owed To A Business?

Unsecured creditors (i.e., a person or business that lends money that isn’t secured by the assets of the borrower) have fairly limited options. When it comes to filing a proof of claim, they are the lowest priority creditor. Unsecured, non-priority creditors will only receive payment if funds remain after all other creditors have been paid. This is one of the main reasons it is advisable to obtain a personal guarantee from the business owner(s), as this allows us to pursue the individual owner(s) to collect the balance due (provided they don’t file bankruptcy as well). If there is evidence of fraudulent activity or commingling of the assets of the business with the owner’s personal assets, then we will have more justification to go after the owner—even in bankruptcy court. However, bankruptcy is usually not a desirable event because in the vast majority of cases, it makes it much more difficult or impossible to collect.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Lawsuit Against A Debtor In California?

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is generally four years on a breach of contract or collections case. For a contract collection case, the statute runs from the date of the breach or the date of the last payment, whichever is later. For a case involving fraud, there is generally a three-year statute of limitations from the date the fraud was committed or the date it was discovered, whichever is later.

When I meet with clients, one of the first things we discuss is the statute of limitations that applies to their particular case. If the statute of limitations has already passed for filing a claim, there may not be much that we can do except make a demand to see if the other party will pay voluntarily. Therefore, In breach-of-contract cases, it’s almost always advisable to take action early on — not just for the statute of limitations, but also because contracts become more difficult to enforce over time due to fading witness memories and lost documents. Once a judgment has been obtained, a person has 10 years to enforce it. In California, judgments can be renewed for successive ten-year periods provided the renewal occurs before expiration of the 10-year period. This means that California judgments can theoretically never expire.

Once A Court Has Ruled That The Debt Owed To The Business Must Be Paid, What Measures Can Your Firm Assist With To Ensure That It Is Eventually Paid?

There are several enforcement techniques in California. With respect to debtor LLCs and corporations, the most common enforcement methods are bank and accounts receivable levies, and we’ve used both of these methods with great success. A bank levy allows the judgment creditor e party to serve a levy on the bank where the judgment debtor maintains its accounts and seize all funds in these accounts — all without the judgment debtor learning of this until after the levy has occurred. We’ve recovered millions of dollars over the years via bank levies. If a bank levy doesn’t successfully resolve the entire claim or we suspect the debtor is hiding money, we can attempt an accounts receivable levy. This type of levy can be successful when we know that a business has customers that are paying our judgment debtor on credit, because we can intercept those funds before they are paid to the judgment debtor. By law, the judgment debtor’s customer is required to pay our client us instead of paying the judgment. The judgment debtor likely won’t be aware that this is happening until the levy is served on their customer, at which point it will be too late for them to do anything about it. Over the years, we have recovered significant amounts of money using this method.

A real property levy can also be attempted if the debtor owns real estate. This enforcement method can ultimately result in foreclosure and sale of the property to satisfy our client’s judgment.

If we know where an individual judgment debtor is employed, we can garnish their wages. A garnishment served on their place of business can collect up to 25 percent of their wages. This is generally effective in smaller cases, and it can force settlements when debtors want to avoid the embarrassment of having their wages garnished.

For more information on Commercial Collections and Business Litigation, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 714-701-8970 today.