Community debt has become a big issue to the point of turning many communities into difficult situations of having to close down swimming pools, shutting down lifts and even more drastic measures of complete abandonment.
As a hot topic and also one that all paying members and presidents are hassled about, we had arranged at the First Presidents Forum for Julia Pedraza of Martinez Echevarria to talk about the procedures of debt collection in Spain and this week at the our first Presidents Club Quarterly meeting, we had the pleasure of having Jeremy Boyle from Welbeck Law who has specialized in Debt Collection from UK residents with properties in Spain.
As logic rules, he advises that the first step is to find if the debtor has any assets. There is no point of spending money on debt collection procedures and lawyers when there is nothing that can be collected from a person in debt or bankruptcy situation.
So I asked Jeremy, What is a day in the life of a Debt collection lawyer at Welbeck Law LLP.
Of course there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day and each one presents its own challenges. No matter how the client has come to them either via a recommendation from an existing community client or from a President or administrator who has found us on the internet, they are kept involved from an early stage in the collection process.
The best way to go about it is fostering a team spirit between president, administrator and the lawyers involved, getting them all to work together for a common goal.
The first step is to learn about the community make up, the type of property, the geographical location and what the community knows about the debtors’ profile. Then a series of checks are run with various bodies including the Insolvency Service, (to ensure the debtor is not bankrupt) Companies House and Experian, the credit reference agency. It goes without saying that this to start such a search, one needs the debtor’s full address and details, including date of birth that can be a bonus.
Apart from the standard methods of tracking down a person, the internet also comes in very handy. Most recently the popularity of LinkedIn, twitter and Facebook allows lawyers to track down people, check on their business and most recent activities, providing good lead and knowledge of the debtor’s status, email address and other contact details. Such details provide a good starting point and indicators for contacting and the start of a negotiation with the debtor.
Once the above has been established, the debtor is contacted by a solicitor claiming the debt due. Debtors are sometimes baffled by how they have been tracked down but what they don’t realise is each time they apply for credit they leave an electronic foot print in the sand. This applies to anything from mobile phone hire contracts to even with Sky or credit card agreements.
If the debtor provides proof that he or she is unemployed, then it is suggested that the community accepts an installment plan. If on the other hand the debtor ignores the correspondence the solicitors apply to the court for an order for payment. From there on the court order can be used in different enforcement methods including using a High Court Enforcement Officer.
Jeremy says that the best part of the job is without doubt recovering money from the debtor and knowing that as a team we are making a difference to the community and working to the benefit of the debtor as well, by not allowing their debt pile to build up or taking them into situations where the property can be embargoed and sold off.
If you would like to benefit from these discussions and meetings, join the Presidents Club and become a member now.