Case Studies

Chasing a Debt – a success story

Photo by Des Harris/Creative Property Marketing.

For over 35 years, Desmond Harris has worked as a photojournalist and photographer in Australia and in Europe, both as an exhibiting artist and for commercial clients. Des is Managing Director at his own agency, The Picture Desk, which has a Creative Property Marketing division for photography services to real estate agencies and architectural firms. 

In October 2019, Des approached Arts Law around concerns that a third party had been using photographs without permission that were taken while Des was an employee of the third party. He submitted a query through Arts Law’s Document Review Service, where our volunteer lawyer Sophie Ciufo, Marque Lawyers, provided advice on copyright ownership and infringement. 

Following this advice from Arts Law, the Client decided to bring a claim in the NSW Civil Claims Tribunal for compensation for use of his photographs without permission. On the basis of that advice, and the steps Des took to enforce his legal rights, the court awarded Des a default judgment.  

After the judgment, Des returned to Arts Law for advice around how to claim payment of the money owed (now called a ‘judgment debt’) from the defendant. We explained that the other side had 28 days to pay the default judgment and advised on further enforcement mechanisms  he would need to take if payment had not been received. 

Arts Law is pleased to report that the matter has now concluded, with Des achieving the best outcome for him and his photography practice. “All went well,” said Des,

“…and the judgement was passed in my favour (unopposed) and eventually paid! It pays to be persistent and follow things through. Sometimes it is the only way people learn. It is not easy to find someone that has a good grasp and understanding of Intellectual Property Law. Thanks for your role with Arts Law.” 

If you have a debt that hasn’t been paid, call Arts Law for advice on what legal steps you can take to pursue payment of the debt.  Have a look at our Information Sheet on Debt Recovery if you wish to read up on the issues and procedures when you making a decision about what to do next. Unfortunately the law is a little different in each state and territory.  Many of the steps, such as sending a letter of demand, are the same and there may only be subtle differences such as the name of the court, and we have included the laws for each state and territory in the Information Sheet.