Approximately half of the credit file repairs we conduct for our clients each year are court actions such as Writs and Court Judgments. One of the key elements to credit repair with court actions is having the plaintiff (the party that commenced the legal action) execute a legal document known as a Consent Order or Notice of Discontinuance. While each state has a slightly different set of documents and system the basic principle remains the same, have the plaintiff consent to the action being discontinued or set aside. Given the amount claimed is paid or settled it is our experience that most plaintiffs will agree to allow this process to take place, there is however a few that refuse. The big question is what then. Unfortunately there is no law that can make a plaintiff agree to this process so it is very much a courtesy for them to comply. For this reason it is important to ask nicely, we find that if a plaintiff is approached in a forceful or negative way they often become belligerent and refuse to cooperate.
When we talk with a new client that has a court action listed on their credit file the first question we ask them is what is their relationship like with the Plaintiff. This can sound like an odd question however if it is found that both parties have been arguing and the situation has moved from a commercial matter to a personal one, in these situations a Plaintiff will often refuse to help the defendant under any circumstances. In these situations offering a financial incentive can sometimes prove an affective tactic. Even the most hostile or uncooperative Plaintiff can be tamed with the prospect of money. We will often present this to a Plaintiff by saying “we understand it will take time from your busy schedule to sign these documents so we would be happy to offer $000 to compensate for this time”. This can be very effective approach and will often yield a positive outcome.
If a Plaintiff flatly refuses to help under any circumstances the defendant may still be able to have the matter set aside in the courts however this would involve a discontinuance without the consent of the Plaintiff and in most cases the Defendant would require their own legal representation to achieve this which can be a costly and time consuming exercise.
The best time to approach a Plaintiff to sign a Consent Order or Notice of Discontinuance is when the matter is not paid but the Plaintiff is willing to pay or settle. Nothing motivates a Plaintiff more than the prospect of being paid. This is amplified if the matter is historic. Many people that approach Clean Credit to help them remove a Court Action listing from their credit file have matters that are years old. Many Plaintiff’s will go the trouble to gain a Court Judgment but do nothing more if the Defendant does not settle. If we approach a Plaintiff that has written off the money and say we are here to help them get paid they are generally more than happy to allow us to have the matter set aside given we arrange payment.
Once a Court Action has been set aside the court will produce a Stamp Order, with this Order a Court Action such as a Judgment or Writ can be removed from a credit file.