Personal Debt Recovery

At some point in our lives we may have debts owed to us. Perhaps a business partnership has ceased, a client has not paid for our services or a friend or relative has not repaid that $30,000 interest free loan we’ve given them. Attempting to recover one’s debt from others can be tedious, stressful and at times even dangerous. The multiple voice messages, emails and texts we leave to our debtors are mostly ignored. The mutual friend or work colleague who tried to mediate in order to seek resolution also failed. So what now?

Engaging a solicitor to resolve pending debt recovery matters is highly recommended as it formalises the process and is taken more seriously by debtors. If the initial demands are not met then legal proceedings can be initiated.

At RSG Lawyers we have so far maintained a 100% success rate in all our debt recovery matters. During our initial consultation with our clients we inquire about the matter and devise the best method to ensure we can recover your debt. Our solicitors then contact the other party and enter negotiations where they tactfully encourage both parties to cooperate.  Penalties and interest are also discussed and may at times be waived, based on our clients instructions, as an incentive for the debt to be re-paid. Should the other party not cooperate to reach a timely resolution then the matter may be escalated to the relevant tribunal or court which is usually determined based on the amount that is being claimed. We may also be able to recover our clients legal costs in certain instances.

By RSG Lawyers.

HELP! My passport is being cancelled?

This short note is to provide some information for those who’s Australian passport is about to be or has been cancelled.

The Australian Passports Act 2005 (Cth) (Act) came into effect on 1 July 2005. It sought to ‘balance the citizen’s sense of entitlement to a passport’ with the government’s duty to protect Australia. The Act allows the government to refuse to issue passports to criminals, terrorists, persons using false identities, and to children lacking appropriate parental supervision or relevant court sanction to travel, and to cancel passports once issued.

The Act also changed the basis upon which ministerial discretion operated. It prescribed in detail the circumstances where the Minister for Foreign Affairs, or his delegate, may (or must) refuse or cancel a passport. It also makes those decisions reviewable under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth).

The Minister has discretion to cancel or refuse to issue a passport where a competent authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a person is ‘likely to engage in conduct … prejudic[ial to] the security of Australia or a foreign country,’ or ‘might endanger the health or physical safety of other persons’, or ‘might interfere with the rights or freedoms of other persons’ or if the person’s conduct might constitute an indictable offence under the Act or another law of the Commonwealth ‘specified in a Minister’s determination.’ In practice, this means offences relating to national and international security (including terrorism), illicit drugs, pedophilia or child
pornography, or violent offences.

Australian citizens do not need to obtain a visa under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) in order to re-enter Australia from overseas. However, this does not necessarily mean that Australian citizens have an ‘absolute right of re-entry’ into the country. Section 4(3) of the Migration Act provides that the Act requires citizens, as well as non-citizens, to identify themselves upon entering Australia — although the purpose of this is expressed as being furtherance of the Migration Act’s object of regulating the entry into and presence in Australia of non-citizens. The key provision to this end is s 166(1), which requires both citizens and non-citizens to present identification evidence for immigration clearance when entering Australia. For Australian citizens, this identification evidence typically consists of the person’s passport.

Refusal or cancellation of a citizen’s passport deprives that citizen of the right to travel abroad. If a person’s passport is cancelled while they are overseas, the cancellation would, in a practical sense, deprive them of the capacity to re-enter Australia.

As noted above, the Act provides for certain decisions made by the Australian Passport Office to be reviewable decisions. The decisions that are reviewable include a decision to cancel an Australian travel document and a decision to demand the surrender of an Australian travel document, amongst other things.

If a review of a decision is requested, the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade will appoint an internal review officer who has not been involved in the original decision to examine all the facts carefully. The original decision may be affirmed; it may be varied; or it may be set aside and a new decision made in its place, with the applicant notified of the outcome of the review as soon as possible. If an applicant is still not satisfied following the internal review, they may seek to have the decision reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

If you are issued a notice telling you that your passport is about to be cancelled, please contact your lawyer urgently, as you have 28 days after being notified to apply for a review of the decision.


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is an independent review body that has the authority to review decisions made by the officers of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Decisions, which could have been reviewed in the former Migration Review Tribunal, are now reviewed in the Migration and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). In particular, visa refusal and cancelation decisions can be reviewed but they also have the right to review decisions relating to the approval or cancellation of sponsorship and nomination. In the case that you have had a visa application refused and wish to have the decision reviewed, the AAT offers this opportunity with the potential to have the decision reversed.

The tribunal represents a ‘last chance’ opportunity for visa applicants and holders of cancelled visas to have an independent assessment of their case based on its merits. During this review process, you may introduce new evidence to support your visa application or argue against cancellation. It is viewed as a new review of your case and offers an opportunity to remedy any problems in your original application. Visa applicants are given a chance to address whatever problems caused by the visa refusal. It is important that an AAT review is carried out with the best possible written submissions and supporting materials as applicants only get one chance at this review.

It is important to know your rights and the right to an AAT review. You must be aware of the strict time limits imposed by the AAT which cannot be extended. At RSG Lawyers we can advise you of your options to pursue an AAT review, your time limits and how we will prepare and lodge your case documents with the AAT for the best possible chance of success. We offer a service which is designed to legitimately present your case in the best possible way, this includes:

* A review of your case and the reasons for refusal or cancellation

* Review of your supporting documents and suggestions for improvement

* Assistance with preparation of further supporting documents and statements

* Preparation of strong written submissions for the AAT review

* Preparation of all relevant review forms

* Lodgement of the review

* Communications between the Migration and Refugee Division regarding your case.

If you require any further advice or wish to proceed with the review process, please contact us today.