Information on Collections Law

I handle small-scale contract disputes involving $15,000.00 or less I have worked with persons defending or seeking judgment in these kinds of cases since 2000, and I am very familiar and proficient in working with my local General District Courts on this kind of case.

Virginia law lays out a process for disputing and enforcing agreements and contracts. If you have sold something to someone or provided them with services, you have a right to be paid. Virginia law allows you to use the courts to collect these kinds of debts. Unfortunately, the process is not always simple or straightforward.

Generally, in order to collect payment of a debt of $15,000.00 or less, you must file a "warrant in debt" with the General District Court where the person who owes you money lives or has their place of business. Special circumstances apply when you are suing someone who resides outside of Virginia. You may still be able to collect from them, but there are additional things you have to do when you take them to Court. The warrant in debt starts the lawsuit against the person and tells them how much money you are seeking and why you are suing them.

Once you have filed the warrant, the court will set a court date and have a copy of the warrant delivered to the defendant by the Sheriff. The defendant has the right to demand that you give them more information about the case. If the defendant makes this demand, you may be ordered to file a Bill of Particulars. The Bill of Particulars is a document where you explain to the Court and the defendant the reasons you are entitled to payment and why you are entitled to the amount you are suing for. In turn, you can request that the defendant file a Grounds of Defense. The Grounds of Defense is a document the defendant files where they explain why they do not owe you the amount you are suing for.

After all of the pleadings have been filed you will go to court on the scheduled date. You will have an opportunity to present evidence to the Judge as to why the defendant owes you money. You may bring documents which back up what you are telling the Judge. You also have the right to call witnesses to testify about what happened between you and the defendant and to help explain why you are entitled to payment. If the Judge is persuaded the law and the facts are such that you are entitled to payment, he or she will enter a judgment in your favor.

Unfortunately for most creditors, judgment is not the end of the process. Once you have your judgment you have the right to ask the court to garnish wages or bank accounts or to order that certain property be sold to satisfy the debt. Each of these requests of the court require that you file the appropriate documents with the court and sometimes pay additional fees.