Courts can find help from toolkit to manage consumer debt cases

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has developed a Debt Collection Reform Implementation Toolkit to give courts practical guidance on incorporating changes into their business practices to improve their handling of debt collection cases.

“The practical guidance offered in the toolkit helps courts implement already-enacted debt collection case rule or statute-based reforms,” said NCSC Senior Court Management Consultant Grace Spulak. “The easy-to-implement strategies also create better access for all parties and increase procedural fairness.”

Consumer debt cases are often characterized by several common traits that make them difficult to manage effectively and fairly, with the potential for long-term negative impacts on the debtor, including the following:

• Issues with service
• Inadequate information in the case file before default judgment
• High default rates
• Continuances of hearings
• A high number of self-represented litigants

The toolkit offers courts guidance on using the following strategies to implement debt collection reforms:

• Changing court data practices or case management systems
• Creating checklists
• Developing enhanced court forms
• Incorporating a judicial review before issuing defaults
• Improving service requirements
• Identifying ways to resolve cases outside of court
• Considering general high-volume docket reforms

As Spulak explains, using the strategies in the toolkit can help address these issues, potentially help courts manage these cases more effectively, and achieve fair and just outcomes for all parties.

For additional information and a list of resources, including a guided interview checklist generator, visit NCSC’s Access to Justice web page at