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How much does Debt Recovery cost?

Average Price
$160 to $450 per hour

What is the price of Debt Recovery and Collection?

Need help recovering a debt but not sure how much it will cost? Read our handy guide to find out how much your debt collector will charge for their services.

What is Debt Recovery?

People can get into debt for a variety of reasons. This includes missed mortgage payments, student loans, credit cards, and much more. 

If the debt is not paid, then the company that sold the goods will financially suffer. Therefore, the money needs to be recovered, which is where debt recovery comes in. Debt recovery specialists help businesses and individuals reclaim millions of dollars across Australia every year. 

The service involves contacting the debtor through phone and letters and may progress to in-person visits or court action if the communication is ignored. The aim is to recover the debt either through cash payment or by selling goods that the debtor owns to cover the costs. 

Debt recovery can either be performed by a debt recovery agency or a debt recovery lawyer.

How much does Debt Recovery cost?

The average Australian has $60,000 worth of debt. This would usually be from several sources i.e student loans, credit cards, missed rent payments, etc. 

Debt recovery is usually charged on a no collection no fee basis. This means that the company will only charge you if successful. If the debt can be recovered, then the cost is often priced as a percentage of the total debt, especially when using a debt collection agency over a debt collection lawyer. 

However, a debt recovery lawyer will charge per hour, with an average cost of between $160 and $450 per hour. 

Average cost of Debt Recovery
Average cost (per hour) $280
Minimum cost (per hour) $160
Maximum cost (per hour) $450

So, the method of debt recovery you choose (debt collection agency vs debt collection lawyer) will have the biggest impact on costs. 

What changes the price of Debt Recovery? 

The cost of debt recovery varies depending on several factors, including: 

  • Type of action

  • Value of debt

  • Complexity of case

  • Recovery rate

  • Time

  • Experience - Debt Collection agency vs Debt Collection lawyer

  • Location

Type of action

The type of action your debt recovery agency or lawyer initiates will affect the cost. Keep in mind that only legal professionals can initiate steps that involve the courts, as debt collection agencies work on a no recovery no fee basis, with fewer steps involved.

Sending out letters of demand is the cheapest part of the process, averaging between $70 and $120. Often this is enough to prompt action from the debtor, especially as it comes from a debt collection specialist rather than yourself. 

On the other end of the scale, winding up proceedings can cost between $440 and $3,700. Though at this point, the debt should have already been recovered. Plus, any fees should be recoverable from the debtor, depending on your state and what your lawyer has advised you.  

Average cost of Debt Recovery based on the type of action
ActionLowest average costHighest average costCost recoverable from the debtor?
Letter of demand$70$120No
Statement of claim$68$750Yes
Default judgment$150$350Yes
Enforcement of judgement$88$3,500Yes (expect for Garnishee Orders)
Winding up proceedings$440$3,700Yes

The true cost will vary between each legal practice and debt recovery agent you compare. This is because each company is free to set its rates, plus each will have different levels of experience. For example, a legal partner could charge hundreds of dollars more per hour, versus what a newly graduated lawyer would. 

Value of debt

Most debt recovery agencies work on a contingency pricing structure that will take a percentage of the debt owed to you, rather than giving you a fixed fee for their service. This is different from a debt recovery lawyer who would charge by the hour or a fixed fee. 

You can choose to pay an annual subscription (costing around $300) or opt for a no collection no commission option. Subscriptions are wise for any company that has a lot of debts to chase, versus a one-off debt, as the percentage charged will be much lower. 

Average cost of Debt Recovery and Collection based on the value of debt
Value of debt Typical percentage charged
Up to $50025%
$500-$1,00020%
$1,000-$5,00012.5%
$5,000-$20,0007.5%
Over $20,0005%

Based on paying a commission fee, smaller cases under $500 are typically the most expensive, costing 25% of the total debt if the professional can recover them. This would mean a $300 case would cost you $75 if recovered successfully. 

While smaller cases are pricier, you have to factor in the operational costs of the agency or lawyer. Unless they charge a high rate, it may not be commercially viable for them to take on your case. Plus, it’s better to recover some money than none at all. 

On the other end of the scale, cases totalling $20,000 or more will have a reduced rate of 5% of the total debt on average. This would mean their services would cost $2,500, for a debt of $50,000

Complexity of case

No two debt cases are the same. If your case is extremely complicated involving several debtors or extremely high sums of money, then it may take longer to solve. If the case is billed per hour, this could become very costly. Though, legal action is often needed for very complex cases, seen as debt recovery agencies cannot represent you in court. 

Recovery rate

When choosing a debt collector, it’s tempting to go for the company that offers the cheapest rates. But what you have to consider is the recovery rate, as ultimately that will give you a greater idea of the level of money you are likely to receive. 

Time

Some services will be billed per hour and others as a fixed fee. Either way, the longer your case drags on the more it will cost. You can help manage any associated costs by having your paperwork in order and giving clear communication throughout. Plus, taking the time to consider the professional you choose, and whether an agency or lawyer would best suit your needs. 

Experience - Debt Collection agency vs Debt Collection lawyer

When trying to recover a debt you have the option of using a debt collection agency or a debt collection lawyer. 

A debt collection agency can recover small debts. They do so by getting in contact with the debtor and will try to negotiate a repayment plan. Though, payment requests are as far as a debt collection agency will be able to go as they cannot represent you in court.

However, a debt collection lawyer can represent you in court. Therefore, if the debt is particularly large or you anticipate the case will require legal action, then you should opt for a debt collection lawyer over a debt collection agency. 

The only downside is that from a price perspective, a lawyer is always going to be more expensive unless the percentage taken from the debt would be higher. Though, if you need legal help and this is not available with an agency, it would be better value to hire a lawyer instead. 

Location

The cost of debt recovery varies widely depending on the complexity of your case. However, your location will also impact the cost since there are different living and operational costs in each area of Australia.

Debt collection lawyers are typically more expensive in Sydney, averaging at $450 per hour. 

In Perth, the costs are less, averaging at $220 per hour for a professional with vast legal experience. 

Average cost of Debt Recovery based on the location
LocationAverage debt recovery cost
Melbourne$390
Sydney$450
Adelaide$325
Brisbane$300
Perth$220

The complexity of the case and whether you do opt for a lawyer or a debt collection service will impact the cost, regardless of where you are based. After all, some debt collection services charge a percentage and not by the hour, so be sure to check before you hire the professional. 

Is it worth getting Debt Recovery?

Debt recovery can be a complex process. If you haven’t succeeded in recovering the money up to this point, then it’s worth enlisting the help of the experts. Debt recovery lawyers or collection agencies will contact the debtor on your behalf to negotiate a deal. If this doesn’t work, then you have the option to take the debtor to court. Compared with taking no action, debt recovery is far more likely to achieve a successful result. 

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