Articles, studies make case for right to counsel in debt cases

03/02/2017, Miscellaneous, Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Two new articles in the Harvard Law & Policy Review support the right to counsel in debt cases.

In her article, Debt in the Courts: The Scourge of Abusive Debt Collection Litigation and Possible Policy Solutions, Lisa Stifler notes that in debt collection, defendants are typically represented between 0-10% of the time, and that "Data indicates that unrepresented defendants who entered into settlement agreements may not be better off than those who received default judgments.”  Conversely, "more than seventy percent of the time consumers with attorney representation either prevailed against the plaintiff debt buyer or had their cases dismissed."

Also appearing in the issue was an article by Joel Tay entitled Consumer Debt Collection in Massachusetts: Is Civil Gideon a Solution? This article makes the policy case for a right to counsel in debt cases based on the high rate of default, the predatory tactics used by lenders, and the significant consequences at stake, and then talks about how such a right could be implemented in Massachusetts.