June 25, 2013
Re: Private Collection of Municipal Court Debt AOC Guidelines
In response to some recent inquiries we have received from local officials, you may be interested to know that the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC) adopted guidelines in 2011 for the use of private collection agencies by municipal courts. These guidelines have been written pursuant the Private Collection of Municipal Court Debt Act, L. 2009, c. 233. That statute permits the governing body of a municipality to authorize the assessment of a fee by a private collection agency or firm, not to exceed 22% of the amount collected, to be paid by the defendant to the private collection agency for the purpose of paying for the cost of the collection. The law also clarified that only municipal court cases that are final determinations of guilt, where the municipal court has exhausted all judicial enforcement remedies, may be sent to the private collection agency.
The AOC requires that a municipality seeking to contract with a private collection agency must prove to the AOC that they will adhere to the procedures set forth in AOC’s guidelines and judicial policies and procedures. The municipality must get authorization from the AOC prior to contracting with a private collection agency and must again submit a copy of the contract to the AOC prior to its implementation.
The AOC guidelines require that the debtor make all payments to the municipal court directly. After the fee has been received, the municipal court can then forward all private collection agency administrative fees processed during the previous month to the private collections agency. The full AOC guidelines can be found at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/mcs/collectionagency.pdf .
If you have any questions, please contact our Staff Attorney, Ed Purcell Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (609) 695-3481 x 137.
Very Truly Yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.