An Impending 'Avalanche': Debt Collection and Consumer Harm after COVID-19

Australian Business Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2021, pp. 84-115

44 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2021

See all articles by Lucinda O'Brien

Lucinda O'Brien

Melbourne Law School

Vivien Chen

Monash University - Department of Business Law & Taxation

Ian Ramsay

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne

Paul Ali

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: July 29, 2021

Abstract

Debt collection activity is expected to rise significantly in 2021, as financial hardship becomes more prevalent due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer advocates have warned of an impending “avalanche in debt collection” and have called for better enforcement of laws designed to protect consumers from harassment as well as unfair, misleading and deceptive conduct by debt collectors. Women’s groups have also pointed to a rise in economic abuse, and resulting indebtedness, in the context of a general escalation in family violence during the pandemic. This article examines the legal framework governing the Australian debt collection industry. Drawing on recent case law and a series of focus groups conducted by the authors, it outlines law reform and enforcement measures that would better protect consumers from harmful debt collection practices. These include specific measures to address the financial, social and psychological impacts of family violence and economic abuse.

Keywords: debt collection; consumer harm; financial hardship

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Lucinda and Chen, Vivien and Ramsay, Ian and Ali, Paul, An Impending 'Avalanche': Debt Collection and Consumer Harm after COVID-19 (July 29, 2021). Australian Business Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2021, pp. 84-115, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3917247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3917247

Lucinda O'Brien

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Vivien Chen

Monash University - Department of Business Law & Taxation ( email )

Caulfield Campus
Sir John Monash Drive
Caulfield East, Victoria 3084
Australia

Ian Ramsay (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 5332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/ian-ramsay

Paul Ali

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 1088 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 5285 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au

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