A managing partner will appear before the Federal Court over accusations she falsely told debtors they had been served with court documents and that they could have their wages docked for failing to pay video fines.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [ACCC] has instituted Federal Court proceedings against Pippa Sampson, the head of the small Melbourne firm Goddard Elliot, for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct when representing video stores in small debt recovery.
The matter has been listed for an interlocutory injunction in the Federal Court in Melbourne on Wednesday (13 October).
The ACCC alleges that Samspon sent four debt collection letters containing false information.
Amongst the most serious allegations, it is alleged that Sampson said debtors had been served with court documents when they had not, and that Goddard Elliot could enforce judgment by way of a warrant, garnishee order and/or an order against their wages which would be served upon their employer, when such remedies can only be ordered by the court.
When contacted by Lawyers Weekly, Sampson said she was unaware that the ACCC had issued a release detailing its allegations against her. She declined to comment when asked if she falsely told debtors they had been served with court documents and offered no comment when other allegations were put to her.
The ACCC also alleges that Sampson falsely told debtors that if the debt was not paid and legal proceedings were instituted, they would have to pay significant legal costs, and that Goddard Elliot could enter judgment without obtaining an order from the court.
Legal costs cannot be recovered for small debt claims, unless under special circumstances, and a court can only enter judgment after legal proceedings have been commenced.
Remedies such as an order against wages can only be ordered by a court, and not a lawyer or a firm.
Sampson was admitted in 1981 and has been a partner at Goddard Elliot for over 20 years.
She is the former president of the Eastern Suburbs Law Association in Melbourne and a former company director of Methodist Ladies College.
Goddard Elliot specialises in business law, family law, commercial dispute resolution and property and conveyancing.