Debt management - recovery

Introduction

Finance and Business Services manage the recovery of all monies owing to ANU except debts which are:

  • written off as authorised by an Act; or
  • irrecoverable at law; or
  • uneconomical to pursue.

To ensure that this responsibility is fulfilled, the following procedures are undertaken by ANU Accounts Receivable Section. The budget unit concerned will be consulted throughout the recovery management, but no recovery action is required from budget unit officers.

Customers

A customer can be any individual, corporation, company, institution, government agency, etc. that has been provided with goods/services by ANU under credit arrangements. Customers can also include persons who have received overpayments such as salary, stipend or allowances.

Debt recovery procedures

To facilitate the recovery of debts, the following is sent to customers who have outstanding monies owing to ANU:

  • a monthly statement showing the balance of all invoices outstanding;
  • once an invoice remains unpaid for four weeks, a letter is sent reminding the customer of the obligation to pay the amount outstanding;
  • once an invoice remains unpaid for eight weeks, a letter of demand is sent asking for full payment of the amount outstanding; and
  • if a response is not received a final letter of demand may be sent to the customer. This letter states that failure to pay the amount outstanding may result in the listing of the debt with the Credit Reference Association of Australia and/or further recovery action through the University's debt collection agency.

Repayment of debt by installment

All amounts owing to ANU should be paid in full immediately when they become due and payable. There may be situations, however, where it is not possible for an amount to be paid in full immediately, e.g. where full immediate repayment would lead to unreasonable financial hardship on the customer. Only delegated officers in accordance with the Delegations of Authority approved by council may agree to recovery of debts by installment.

In cases of claimed financial hardship, the customer will be required to provide evidence of their financial position, by statutory declaration and supported by any other relevant documentation, sufficient to satisfy ANU that the customer is unable to discharge the amount other than by installments.

Conditions for repayment by installments are specified in a "Deed" to ensure that ANU recovers the amount as soon as is reasonably practicable, having regard to the customer's ability to repay. This ensures that the customer understands and accepts their obligation in repaying the amount owing. The repayment arrangements will be reviewed annually, to determine whether a higher rate of installment should be sought.

Only delegated officers may agree to recovery of debts to be implemented from a deferred date (e.g. on return from extended leave of a customer). Such arrangements would only be appropriate if recovery may be effected in full, or by a limited number of installments, on or from the deferred date.

If customers default on their mutually agreed repayments, action will be taken to recover in full the balance of the debt owing.

Suitable records will be maintained for each customer repaying debts by installments and will include: the amount of the original debt, the installment amount, the balance owing, and the pay out date.

Where an employee of ANU who is also a customer by virtue of an overpayment of salary, stipend or allowances is leaving, or has left ANU, the amount of any recoverable overpayments may be deducted from any salary and/or pay in lieu of long service leave, recreation leave or other moneys owing to the person on termination.

Debt collection agency

If the customer fails to repay the outstanding amount following the letter of demand, the debt may be referred to the University's debt collection agency. The use of commercial debt collection agencies to recover outstanding debts will not be commenced without due consideration of the economic viability of such action. The costs associated with the use of these agencies include direct costs incurred in the recovery action as well as a commission retained on all monies recovered.

Legal proceedings

Legal action for the recovery of large debts will be coordinated though the University's legal office.

Non-recovery/write-off

Only delegated officers in accordance with the Delegations of Authority approved by council may approve the non-recovery of a debt and then only under any of the following conditions:

  • the non-recovery has been authorised by an Act; or
  • the delegate is satisfied that the debt is not legally recoverable; or
  • the delegate considers that it is not economical to pursue recovery of the debt.

When, in the delegate's judgement, the recovery of a debt would leave ANU financially worse off than it would have been, had recovery not been undertaken, then the debt could be regarded as uneconomical to pursue and non-recovery of the debt could be approved. The recovery of a debt could be considered to be uneconomical to pursue if, for instance, the customer is known to be destitute and without the financial means to settle the debt and there is no prospect of their financial situation improving in the foreseeable future.

The act of approving the non-recovery of a debt does not expunge the debt in law. If the circumstances that led to the debt being irrecoverable materially change, then recovery of the debt will be reinstated.

An amount owed by a bankrupt, or a company in liquidation, should not be formally regarded as irrecoverable until the bankrupt has been discharged from bankruptcy, or the liquidation of the company has been finalised or advice of the extent of the likely distribution of funds has been received from an Official Receiver or Trustee in Bankruptcy, or from a Liquidator in the winding up of a company. Whilst awaiting bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings, the debt will be regarded as a doubtful debt in the University's financial statements.

View delegations for debt write-off (PDF 211KB).

To request a debt write-off, complete the Requests for Write-off form and forward to the Accounts Receivable Section, Finance and Business Service Division, Building 10C.