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Pending Bill Would Require Personal Service When Attempting To Collect Judgments


According to the Illinois Bar Journal, there is legislation pending in Springfield that would change how judgment creditors give notice to judgment debtors in collection actions.

When a creditor obtains a judgment against a borrower in a collections lawsuit, it must then attempt to collect the judgment amount. As the laws are currently drafted, judgment creditors can initiate the collections process by serving notice on the judgment debtor via the U.S. Mail. This means that there is little to no guarantee that the debtor has received notice of the proceeding.

A normal first step in the collections process is a citation to discover assets. The citation is a legal summons that requires the judgment debtor to appear in court, be sworn under oath, and to answer questions regarding his or her assets. If the judgment debtor does not appear in court, the creditor's attorney may request that a body attachment be issued.

A body attachment is similar to an arrest warrant. The court empowers the county sheriff to seek out and arrest the debtor to compel his or her appearance in court. This practice has raised eyebrows nationwide, and has even garnered the attention of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Although some attorneys would describe the body attachment as a penalty for failing to appear in court and not a penalty for failing to pay a debt, the public perception is the opposite.

House Bill 5434 would require that judgment creditors serve the judgment debtor via personal or abode service. Requiring the creditor to issue its citation to discover assets via the sheriff or a process server, would increase the likelihood that the judgment debtor had notice of the proceeding. This would make imposing a penalty such as body attachment more fair.