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Florida Collection Laws and Regulations


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I've been brainstorming how to resolve litigation that involves my company, and stumbled across something tonight that I hope a few Florida experts might offer their thoughts on. Prior to suit, a collection agency attempted a collection, before the attorney stepped in and sued. I dispute the claim. Both the collection agency and the lawyer are principally involved in commercial collections.

Florida statute, Chapter 559; COMMERCIAL COLLECTION PRACTICES; 559.544(5) Registration required; exemptions, states:

This section shall not apply to:

(a) A member of The Florida Bar, unless such person is primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims. “Primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims” means that more than one-half of the income of such person arises from the business of soliciting commercial claims for collection or collecting commercial claims.

The collection company and the attorney I mentioned are not registered as commercial collection agencies or agents with the State of Florida, nor are they bonded as required by this statute, but again, I believe their work involves more than 50% commercial collections. If I'm reading this right, how can I use this in court to stop them dead in their tracks?

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I've been brainstorming how to resolve litigation that involves my company, and stumbled across something tonight that I hope a few Florida experts might offer their thoughts on. Prior to suit, a collection agency attempted a collection, before the attorney stepped in and sued. I dispute the claim. Both the collection agency and the lawyer are principally involved in commercial collections.

Florida statute, Chapter 559; COMMERCIAL COLLECTION PRACTICES; 559.544(5) Registration required; exemptions, states:

This section shall not apply to:

(a) A member of The Florida Bar, unless such person is primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims. “Primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims” means that more than one-half of the income of such person arises from the business of soliciting commercial claims for collection or collecting commercial claims.

The collection company and the attorney I mentioned are not registered as commercial collection agencies or agents with the State of Florida, nor are they bonded as required by this statute, but again, I believe their work involves more than 50% commercial collections. If I'm reading this right, how can I use this in court to stop them dead in their tracks?

Does the FL act that you are referencing have a right to private action in it? Is there some other statute or tort that would give you or your company a right to private action because of this? If so, I would use it were I in your shoes. You might be able to seek damages greater than what they are seeking. It could also give you what you need to get an attorney involved in your corner and get this into real court. If not, you could fire a complaint off to your state's AG's office. IMO, AG's don't like to be used as a procedural tool of the courts, but IIRC, your case has been going on forever and it is quite bogus. That's your call. You might also want to speak to somebody in the AG's office first.

I'm also pretty sure that there is a bona fide defense you can use here, but I don't know what it's called. Perhaps somebody could step in and fill in the blanks. I think it basically boils down to them not having the legal authority to do what they are doing. Also, if they have brought any claims in equity against your company, you can use equitable defenses. Unclean hands may be applicable.

Edited by usagi555
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Is the collection agency out of state? The statute you cited does not apply to out of state agencies.

559.544 Registration required; exemptions.—

(i) An out-of-state collector as defined in this part.

You might want to speak to an attorney regarding the attorney for the Plaintiff. You stated you THINK more than 50% of his work involves debt collection. The statute states that more than half of his INCOME must be derived from collections.

He's not sending out collection requests in your case. He's representing a client in a lawsuit. You would need to find out if he must be licensed as a collection agency in order to represent a client in court.

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I've been brainstorming how to resolve litigation that involves my company, and stumbled across something tonight that I hope a few Florida experts might offer their thoughts on. Prior to suit, a collection agency attempted a collection, before the attorney stepped in and sued. I dispute the claim. Both the collection agency and the lawyer are principally involved in commercial collections.

Florida statute, Chapter 559; COMMERCIAL COLLECTION PRACTICES; 559.544(5) Registration required; exemptions, states:

This section shall not apply to:

(a) A member of The Florida Bar, unless such person is primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims. “Primarily engaged in the collection of commercial claims” means that more than one-half of the income of such person arises from the business of soliciting commercial claims for collection or collecting commercial claims.

The collection company and the attorney I mentioned are not registered as commercial collection agencies or agents with the State of Florida, nor are they bonded as required by this statute, but again, I believe their work involves more than 50% commercial collections. If I'm reading this right, how can I use this in court to stop them dead in their tracks?

You can serve them with discovery and ask for all their business records showing what kinds of cases produce what. Plan on a huge objection and a long fight to get it. Or, you can serve them with a ROG asking if they have such a license / registration, and if not why. Back to square one. The FDCPA has pretty much the same requirement. Usually attorneys do not have to be registered as collection agents, at least not in CT. There are CT Supreme court cases, at least one, let's see how good my memory is, okay, Citibank v. Evvard or vice versa, where you can see the applicable law. I'd hate to have to take on this one. Privilege, confidentiality, etc would kill you. Imagine a law firm having to publicly disclose the information on all their cases, how much they were paid, what kind of case, it would be a nightmare. As the satute states, attorneys are exempt from this. I wouldn't waste my time with this one, it has no logical end.

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The collection agency was out of state. The attorney is in state. The statute does not say attorneys are exempt. Consumer debts exempt attorneys, not commercial debts (alleged).

In this case, I am confident from their own websites and advertising on public forums, that both the collection agency and attorney in question have the vast majority of their operation based on commercial accounts. They both put it in their press releases...

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