Steven L. Higgs, P.C.

9 Franklin Road, Southwest
Roanoke, Virginia  24011-2403

Telephone: (540) 400-7990
Facsimile:   (540) 400-7999

Creditors' Rights and Commercial Collections

We have extensive experience in legal collections, from small unsecured amounts to large, multi-million dollar accounts involving complex methods of collateralization. We use a state-of-the-art computerized practice management system to assist our efforts in quickly and economically collecting monies due our clients.

Mr. Higgs has over 35 years' experience in creditors' rights law, and is a co-author of two collection-related Virginia Lawyers Handbooks, Debt Collection for Virginia Lawyers: A Sytematic Approach, and Enforcement of Liens and Judgments in Virginia, both published by the Virginia Law Foundation.  He co-authored the chapter on Creditor's Rights for Virginia Law and Practice: a Handbook for Attorneys, published by the Virginia Law Foundation.  He is also an author and presenter of the chapter on Creditors' Rights in the lawyers' licensing reciprocity course sponsored by the Fellows of the Virginia Law Foundation.  Mr. Higgs is Board Certified by the American Board of Certification in Creditors' Rights Law.

Unsecured Debts

Collection of unsecured debts may be handled on either a contingent or hourly fee basis, depending upon the circumstances. Our experience has been that collections handled on an hourly fee basis generally cost the creditor less than one-third of the gross amount collected, although fees certainly may be more or less in a specific case.

Ordinary office overhead expenses, such as long distance telephone calls, normal postage and copy expenses, are absorbed by the firm and are not billed to clients. Unusual expenses and out-of-pocket espenses, including filing fees, court costs, travel expenses and the like, are billed at the firm's actual cost, without markup.

Contingent fees are generally one-third of the gross amount collected, plus expenses. A small advance fee is usually required in contingent fee cases to offset the costs of litigation.

Secured Debts

Secured obligations may often be collected in the same manner as unsecured debts, by a suit filed in the Circuit Courts or in the General District Courts. In many cases, however, the creditor wishes to obtain possession of the collateral securing the debt. Where "self-help" by the creditor is unavailable or unavailing, a suit for possession of the property, known in Virginia as a motion for judgment in detinue [detinue is called "replevin" or "claim and delivery" in some other states] may be filed in the appropriate Circuit Court. Such matters are usually handled on an hourly fee basis.

Lease Enforcement

The enforcement of lease obligations and lease asset recovery are a growing, specialized and complex area of the law.

We have extensive experience in enforcing and defending the rights of lessors both in and out of court, including the prosecution and defense of adversary proceedings in Bankruptcy Court, detinue actions for the recovery of leased property, asset sales, and the collection of deficiencies.

Mr. Higgs is the author of the state law compendium for Virginia maintained by the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) for its members.   The compendium provides state-specific answers to many common legal questions arising in the equipment leasing and finance industry.  Mr. Higgs authored the first Virginia Compendium for ELFA in 2003.  The State Law Compendium may be accessed courtesy of The Higgs Law Firm and ELFA at the ELFA website. [Click here; select "Virginia," then choose one of the selected topics covered by the Compendium.]

The Higgs Law Firm was a founding member of the National Equipment Finance Association (NEFA).  NEFA is a national association serving independent equipment finance companies, lessors and brokers, and was formed through the merger of the United Association of Equipment Leasing (UAEL) and the Eastern Association of Equipment Lessors (EAEL).

The Higgs Law Firm is a former member of the Lease Enforcement Attorney's Network (LEAN), a nonprofit organization of law firms who pride themselves on their ability and willingness to represent clients needing assistance in the enforcement of lease obligations, collections, asset recovery and bankruptcy.  Because of our long-standing professional relationships with attorneys and law firms throughout the country, we have the ability for us to assist lessors with their enforcement needs in virtually every state.

Leases may be enforced in either state court or in federal court, including the bankruptcy court. These matters are usually handled on an hourly fee basis, though in appropriate cases we may be able to represent clients on a contingent fee basis or on a flat fee basis.



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