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Symes, Chris --- "Consumer Debt Recovery Law by Bruce Kercher, Richard Brading and Betty Weule" [2004] AltLawJl 28; (2004) 29(2) Alternative Law Journal 105



Bruce Kercher, Richard Brading & Betty Weule; The Federation Press 2002; 2nd edition; 172 pp; $35.75 softcover.

Consumer Debt Recovery Law would have been a difficult one to research and write due to the varied laws applying to debt collection across Australia. Kercher did a lot of this hard work for the first edition and has been joined by Weule and Brading to complement the cross section of the law that this area covers. The book is the only one of its kind on the market in Australia.

Perhaps it is time for governments to look at attempting uniformity in the debt collection area, given the present Australia-wide coverage of consumer law, corporate law and some business laws. This book demonstrates how silly it is for a country of 20 million people to have legislation and practices on the topic of debt recovery that vary across states.

The strength of Consumer Debt Recovery Law is its comprehensive nature of dealing with all sorts of debt collection aspects. The authors are experienced and bring together more than just a monologue of debt recovery statutory provisions. They give the reader their legal and financial counselling experience.

Many chapters also contain an historical background which is evidence of the exceptional research effort and these parts are pleasant to read even though not crucial to expressing the current law. Some effort has been made to express the law clearly. In discussing what property may be seized the authors suggest that "contrary to common belief there is no exemption for property which has several owners". They explain:

... if a television set is owned by a debtor and her husband 1t may be seized and sold. The husband will then own it jointly with the buyer. Of course, it is unlikely that anyone would want to buy such a limited interest in the television set, and there is little point in seizing it. [108]

This is a fine example of authors making the law accessible.

Due to the varied laws across state boundaries, many chapters are broken up into small discussions that are clearly labelled under state subheadings. This edition has been 'beefed' up by the use of more material from the less populated states. Furthermore, there is helpful specific legislation of particular states like the Imprisonment of Fraudulent Debtors Act from Victoria.

In all there are 11 chapters and this edition sees an additional chapter on bankruptcy. The chapters range from obtaining judgment and defences to enforcement of judgments and in the inability to pay. Other chapters look at remedies before judgment and debt recovery outside the courts.

Consumer Debt Recovery Law has grown in length since the first edition and this helps its credibility as a serious book rather than being seen as a study aid type book which is how the first edition could have been interpreted. Despite additional material the book remains a concise statement of the law.

Its usefulness or utility will be as a quick reference for those in practice and students who embark on extension work in commercial law subjects like banking and finance law or insolvency law. Even the specialist practitioner may benefit from the scholarship of the authors.

Consumer Debt Recovery Law will be a necessary purchase for all who have the first edition. Those who are new to the book should feel satisfied that their purchase will provide ready access to debt collection law. It would be a particularly good purchase for new legal practitioners who ore often given the so called 'debt collection' files in the office to work on.

CHRISTOPHER SYMES teaches corporate law and insolvency law at Flinders University.

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