Credit and Debt

Credit and Debt

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Case studies

How you handle a credit and debt matter will obviously depend on the specific facts and the client's circumstances, but these case studies will provide some guidance on how to approach credit and debt matters in practice. 

This section sets out five case studies based on matters that Homeless Law has previously assisted clients with. 

Template correspondence is included.

Case study 1: Elaine’s landline debt (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman) 

Elaine sought assistance from Homeless Law in relation to a $750 debt she owed to a telecommunications company for a home phone bill.  The debt was incurred about two years ago when Elaine was living in a private rental property.

The debt had been sold to a debt collection company and was approximately three years old.  

Case study 2: Megan’s insurance debt (judgment proof)

In 2009 Megan had a car crash while driving her uncle’s car.  The car wasn’t insured, so the other party’s insurance company was pursuing Megan for the $18,000 that they’d had to pay their driver.
The insurance company had sold the debt to a debt collection agency. 

A few months after the car crash Megan had a psychotic episode that left her hospitalised and with a suspected acquired brain injury. She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Case study 3: Thomas’s debt to the owners of a damaged fence (court proceedings commenced)

Thomas was a man in his mid-50s who was long term unemployed.  He had no assets or income except for his fortnightly Centrelink payments. 

Thomas sought Homeless Law’s assistance when civil proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court were commenced against him by the owners of a heritage fence, which it was alleged Thomas had damaged. 

Thomas had been issued with a Form 5A Complaint Form and had two days to work out whether to lodge a Defence Form 8A or not.

Case study 4: John’s telecommunications debt (internal dispute resolution) 

John sought assistance from Homeless Law in relation to a $1200 debt he owed to a telecommunications company for a home phone bill.  The debt had been incurred about a year ago when he was living in transitional housing outside Melbourne.  A lot of the debt was for late payment fees. The telecommunications company was threatening to disconnect John’s home phone.

John instructed Homeless Law that the phone company had not explained to him that phone calls from her home to Melbourne were charged at a long distance rate when he signed the phone contract with them.

Case study 5: Peter’s mortgage default (Supreme Court order already made)

Peter was referred to Homeless Law very late in the piece – a Supreme Court judgment had already been obtained in relation to his mortgage arrears and the Sheriff was due to repossess his property the next day. 
Peter had a history of severe mental illness, including recent involuntary hospitalisation.

 

Because of the severity of Peter’s circumstances, including his mental illness and ongoing fragility (and consequent limited ability to engage with ordinary legal services), his very limited income, his minimal equity in the property and the urgency of the situation, Homeless Law accepted Peter’s matter.  This will not always be possible or appropriate and you should check with Homeless Law on a case-by-case basis.