The overwhelming majority of cases filed against an individual in a debt collection matter result in a default judgement with the defendant never responding. When an individual defendant representing themselves does respond, they rarely assert any defense or file a procedurally sufficient answer. This study hypothesizes that a large portion of debt collection cases brought would be defeated if defendants filed procedurally sufficient answers and asserted defenses.
The A2J Lab is already conducting research in this area allowing this study to build upon the others. We know that 90% or more of debt collection defendants lose their cases because they do not show up to court, even when they have a strong chance of winning their cases. Our debt collection studies address the question: How can legal services providers and courts persuade individuals to participate in legal processes?
Our pilot study, Problem of Default Part I, demonstrates that a well-constructed letter sent to debt collection defendants at the start of their case can more than triple the rate of defendants coming to court to contest their cases. Problem of Default Part II expands this pilot to additional sites and other materials; results of this study are pending.
What We’ll Learn:
This research investigates whether, if a court entity, in this case, the Self-Help Center (“SHC”), actively reaches out to defendants with legal information and easy-to-use forms to file an answer and assert affirmative defenses, default judgements will decrease and fewer judgements will be entered against defendants.
We partner with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and the Hamilton County Help Center in Ohio to field the research.