The initial step to commercial debt collection is long before you send your debtor to collection. The first step is exclusively in your hands. At the beginning of every commercial relationship you have the opportunity to control your money and set your terms. You do that with credit applications, personal guarantees and/or strong written contracts. Relying on handshakes and oral promises may feel more natural but in commercial debt collection, it is extremely helpful to have good paperwork. A solid paper trail helps your chances of having our collections lawyers persuade your debtor to pay, It also improves your chance at winning at trial. The collections attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC collectively have nearly fifty years in commercial contract drafting and review.
Once the horse has left the barn and your debtor has become your deadbeat, our attorneys can also assist you in your efforts to get paid.
Unlike debt collection by a collection agency which often begins and ends with ineffectual collection letters, our approach is different. We don’t write letters or make telephone calls. You have done that and if they worked, you would not be reading this blog.
Rather, we immediately cut to the chase. We investigate whether the commercial debtor has assets and then after strategizing, we immediately file a lawsuit and seek where appropriate ex parte attachments of your debtor’s assets so when you win your commercial debt collection lawsuit, you may have a pot from which to get paid. Our philosophy is simple—GET YOU PAID– we do not stop until we have either collected your commercial debt or no one else can.
Despite the expense of filing costs and sheriff fees, commercial debt collection litigation is usually a much more successful course of debt recovery than the efforts of a collection agency. Unlike collection agencies which cannot file suit to collect commercial debt, our experienced commercial litigators who focus on debt collection have nearly 50 years of collective experience getting our clients paid. We have tried numerous cases, although most collection actions to do not end up going to a trial by judge or jury. The business litigation approach to debt collecting often brings matters to a rapid conclusion. The collections attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC know how to get the job done and have been doing so since the Firm’s establishment in 1994. Our collections lawyers pursue commercial debt collection using aggressive, relentless, efficient and ethical techniques to get you paid. Although our approach is aimed at all times at bringing the commercial debtor to the negotiating table after leveling the playing field with prejudgment attachments, we know that not all cases settle and so we prepare each case as if it was going to trial. We try to collect all of the monies owed to you and not just the low hanging fruit. We do not dabble in commercial debt collection. It is what we do. We e commercial litigators.
Prejudgment attachments are aimed at obtaining security in the form of bank attachments, real estate attachments, reach and apply injunctions, regular injunctions, personal property attachments, keeper attachments and special attachments. Our collection attorneys have decades of experience using each form of obtaining prejudgment security. Attorneys that dabble in collection law often do not make any attempt to collect a debt until after they have obtained a judgment. The experienced commercial debt collection attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC start attempting to collect your commercial debt the moment we file suit. Massachusetts, for the most part is a first in time, first in right state. This means that if you attach a debtor’s bank account after someone else has already attached that account, you may be lucky to only get table scraps.
Seeking prejudgment attachments at the commencement of a lawsuit provides you with a greater opportunity to have a source from which to get paid and that is why our collection attorneys commence almost every case with motions seeking prejudgment security.
After we have sought to obtain an ex parte(without notice) attachment of your debtor’s assets, the next step in debt collection litigation is to have the debtor served with the summons and complaint. The debtor has 20 days from being served to file an answer or other responsive pleading. On the 21st day, our office has it calendared to prepare a request for default. A default establishes that the commercial debtor owes you monies, but not how much.
The next procedure is to file a request for an assessment of damages. Our experienced collections lawyers how to prepare detailed supporting documents with the request for default judgment to assist the court to assess damages (determine the amount owed by the debtor to you).
After the court has assessed damages, then the fun really begins. Our collections attorneys then request the Court to issue an execution . An execution is the legal document that authorizes the deputy sheriff to levy upon a debtor’s real estate and in certain circumstances immediately commence the process of a sheriff’s sale. It also allows the deputy sheriff to seize and sell non-exempt personal property such as cars and boats. Unlike in some states, in Massachusetts a sheriff cannot go into banks without a separate court order and seize debtor’s bank accounts.
What Happens When the Debtor Files An Answer to the Complaint?
Once the debtor files an answer, we immediately reach out to opposing counsel to determine what their position is on resolution. We provide a short and limited time period for a response. If the debtor does not take the matter seriously, we immediately actively prepare the case for trial. The experienced collections lawyers at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC don’t run away from the fight to get you paid. We run into action sending out discovery to learn of the basis of the debtor’s refusal to pay their commercial debt and doggedly pursue full and complete answers to their discovery requests and do not tolerate debtor’s use of routine boilerplate objections and obfuscation.
Once discovery is complete we again reach out to debtor’s counsel to see if a favorable resolution is possible. If not we evaluate the case as to whether summary judgment can be successful. Summary judgment is when the parties agree on all of the material facts and the only thing remaining is a question of law.
If the case is not conducive to summary judgment, we then explore mediation and if unsuccessful, trial. Once we prevail, we again request the Court to issue the execution.
So You Won, What Now?
Unfortunately, winning a judgment does not mean getting paid. Whether our collection attorneys obtained your judgment or not, they know how to aggressively and relentlessly seek all avenues to get you paid. We work to peel back the onion to expose the judgment debtor’s assets. Our collections lawyers conduct post judgment discovery and seek to examine your debtor’s private financial information so that we can file the money trail. We seek to set aside fraudulent transfers, pierce the corporate veil to impose individual liability (so much easier when you obtain a personal guaranty at the beginning of the business relationship!), impose successor liability and many other tactics. Pealing back the onion can result in newfound sources of monies from which to get you paid.
Sometimes, however the trail is just barren. Our collections lawyers have the patience to wait until the dust settles a bit and the debtor gets back on its feet. Then our attorneys resurface and again aggressively pursue debt recovery tactics. They have the staying power throughout the entire twenty year period that the initial execution is valid. They never give up until the debt is uncollectable and no one else could collect it.
When your commercial debtor is an individual, then in addition to seeking to attach their interest in property, if employed we pursue wage garnishments.
These are only a few of the ways you can pursue payment from your debtor after receiving a judgment in your favor.
To learn more about how the experienced collections attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC can help you read what some of our clients say and then call us for a free consultation.