According to the
Illinois Bar Journal, there is legislation pending in Springfield that would change how judgment
creditors give notice to judgment debtors in collection actions.
When a creditor obtains a judgment against a borrower in a collections
lawsuit, it must then attempt to collect the judgment amount. As the laws
are currently drafted, judgment creditors can initiate the collections
process by serving notice on the judgment debtor via the U.S. Mail. This
means that there is little to no guarantee that the debtor has received
notice of the proceeding.
A normal first step in the collections process is a citation to discover
assets. The citation is a legal summons that requires the judgment debtor
to appear in court, be sworn under oath, and to answer questions regarding
his or her assets. If the judgment debtor does not appear in court, the
creditor's attorney may request that a body attachment be issued.
A body attachment is similar to an arrest warrant. The court empowers the
county sheriff to seek out and arrest the debtor to compel his or her
appearance in court. This practice has raised eyebrows nationwide, and has even
garnered the attention of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Although some attorneys would describe the body attachment as a penalty
for failing to appear in court and not a penalty for failing to pay a
debt, the public perception is the opposite.
House Bill 5434 would require that judgment creditors serve the judgment
debtor via personal or abode service. Requiring the creditor to issue
its citation to discover assets via the sheriff or a process server, would
increase the likelihood that the judgment debtor had notice of the proceeding.
This would make imposing a penalty such as body attachment more fair.