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Submission – District Court (Protection of Judgment Debtors with Disabilities) Amendment Bill

“I think it’s actually a bit crazy that we have to debate a bill like this, when—look, it says in the general policy statement that the Act requires good judgment to be exercised by the bailiffs.” – Mr Darroch Ball

As a NZ citizen I am just as shocked as Mr Darroch Ball is, to learn that we have Bailiffs who are so dishonestly unethical as to literally go against the rule of law in order to collect on a debt. Even to the extreme that debt can be pursued to the point that a persons life has been put in danger.

As a judgment debtor and a bankrupt I am not shocked to learn that Baliffs can act so unethically. A few years ago I was preyed upon by a court bailiff. He quite literally came after me for a seatbelt fine debt that months before had been paid in full by me.

Since then I have seen with my own eyes the lengths that the banks, high court judges and the insolvency office (head debt collectors for NZ) will go to, to force debtors into terrible hardships. Some even commit suicide because of how collection authorities are allowed to treat human beings.

A few years ago I had a meeting with Dr Duncan Webb and told him how I wanted the Human Rights Act changed to stop people in financial hardship from being exploited like I and others have been. He listed to what I had to say for 15 minutes and I never heard from him again. He was not interested.

When BNZ submitted fake documents to the disputes tribunal hearing regarding the debt I owed them, I tried to defend it. But because I did have outstanding credit card debt owed to BNZ the tribunal referee dismissed my counterclaim and allowed BNZ’s application to stand. Once I became a judgment debtor by way of that fake application, I quite literally lost all my legal rights. Legal aid is not available for judgment debtors and I literally had to research and prepare all of my own high court documents, and represent myself in the high court.

Once a person is made a judgment debtor they immediately lose any right to negotiate any debt repayment. I don’t know Mr T’s position but as a JD myself the disputes tribunal and the courts actually refused to consider my circumstances including my ability to repay the debt. While I was a judgment debtor I advised the courts that I would agree to a financial hearing if that is what BNZ wanted. But the courts gave me only two weeks to get information together and I asked for an extension of time, but was refused. And BNZ cancelled the financial assessment hearing.

They violated my rights when they forced further debt against me. The disputes tribunal (who are a debt collection agency) allowed BNZ and their debt collectors to create a brand new debt and back date years of interest and then force further debt against me, just like the courts and the insolvency office did once I became bankrupt. At the date of discharge the insolvency office refused to acknowledge what debt I had been paying back to creditors and they also refused to deem any of the debt to be properly proven, and although I am “discharged” they will not confirm that any of the debt I owed at the time I was made bankrupt has been released and they refuse to confirm that the admin costs and court costs against me have been released.

Because I was made bankrupt the privacy office confirmed I have no rights under the privacy act. When I tried bringing a claim to the parliament ombudsman and to the state services commission, my complaints were ignored and nothing has been done to right the wrongs not only against me and the thousands of others who are forced into bankruptcy every year, but my creditors have missed out as well. Just like Mr T because I was in default of debt my rights to make good on that debt in a way that fitted with my circumstances and my budget, were taken away from me by the banks, their debt collectors, the tribunal, the courts and the insolvency office. Today the banking and debt collection regimes of NZ have lost credibility. And so to have the ministers who know the problems exist but refuse to do anything to fix the “gaps” in the system. Why has it needed this bill to try and fix the horrendous cruelty and suffering that creditors and their agents and the courts can inflict on the likes of Mr T and other people who are in default of debt? Is that your f**king standard!

Baliffs act in the manner that this bailiff did, quite literally because when a person becomes a judgment debtor, creditors and bailiffs and debt collectors – including the insolvency office – do not need to comply with any legal or moral laws. That is why the bailiff could get away with their cruel treatment of people. There simply are no consequences for their wrongful dishonourable actions.

When I went to my two bankruptcy hearings in the high court, I literally watched other judgment debtors plead for their lives in front of the high court judges. Their pleas and their circumstances were ignored and they were bankrupted. By the end of my bankruptcy the public had forked out more than $20K just for my bankruptcy alone, even when the courts knew I had absolutely no assets or money. My creditors never got any benefit of me being bankrupted – financial or otherwise. In order to try and get some justice for them, I literally had to take actions outside of the Insolvency Act so it would lessen the impact of the bankruptcy upon them. I took other action also to try and stop the insolvency office from exploiting and violating the rights of bankrupts, because my complaints to them and to the ministers of parliament fell on deaf ears.

Some of you reading this will know already that I have spoken out at length publically about the corruption in the lending and debt collection industries. You will also know that more public money and support has been given to Terrorist Brenton Tarrant than what the government and its laws give to people in financial hardship.

NZ law as it stands allows for even the rights of non-disabled people in financial hardship to be exploited and removes their ability to even be able to defend themselves, let alone being physically disabled. Please tell me, who is getting the benefit of your debt collection services?

It is when I hear stories like this and when I see so many others being exploited by debt collectors – which are all that bailiffs and the insolvency office are, and the debt collection regimes generally, I was compelled to take action to try and stop the corruption and violation of the rights of insolvents and people in financial hardship, by creditors, the courts and other government agencies.

In the bill I am drafting to make changes to the Human Rights Act I already have a section for judgment debtors. I will be sure to include physically disabled people as well. Dr Nick Smith referred to improving debtor laws. If I get to speak to my submission I would like to ask him directly, just what debtors laws he means. Because from what I have personally experienced, there simply aren’t any.

I also advocate for the removal of debt offerings to people in financial hardship and the removal of unsecured debt entirely, simply because the consequences of being in debt are too severe and too painful for many.  Some go on to commit suicide and lifeline has said they have nearly 800 people contact them every year due to financial hardship. If debtor laws existed then people would not have to go to such extremes because there were no other alternatives available to them. What a shameful embarrassment for our country when you b**tards in parliament will let people be forced into debt for life’s necessities and then have your debt collectors and the courts continue to keep screwing us over, again and again and again. Even through Covid you still keep bankrupting people. They were judgment debtors when they stood in front of your judges.

What will it take to wake you people up to the truth about the financial fraud and corruption in NZ. Public money is being used to violate our rights and our wellbeing. When it comes to debt, we judgment debtors are treated all the same, abled or disabled it makes no difference. You have substantial “gaps” in your lending and insolvency laws. Really? I call it a sieve.

The whole insolvency regime for a start needs to be abolished, simply because it is not fit for purpose for all the people who are victims of it, or who are involved in it. Any law in NZ should give equal rights and protections to all NZers. Mr Tanginoa also had no rights under the Human Rights Act or the Bill of Rights Act, because those acts of law don’t protect him against the unlawful cruel actions of debt collectors and bailiffs.

As a NZ citizen I would like to publically apologise on behalf of the NZ government for the way NZ creditors and debt collectors (and bailiffs) have treated Mr Tanginoa, and all other victims of debt collection and public insolvency regimes. My thanks to Mr Tanginoa for making this bill possible. It has proven what I and many others have shown to be true about debt and the debt collection processes in NZ. 

Lisa Cowe