Recording Judgment Costs

August 13, 2023

I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment referral expert (Judgment Broker). This article is my opinion, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. Nothing in any of my articles should ever be considered legal advice.

In this article, when “MC-12” is used, it means a Memorandum Of Costs form. MC-12 is a California judicial council form. (See my other article on filling out a MC-12 form.)

When a MC-12, or an equivalent form (in another state), motion, or affidavit is used, it means to document and record certain judgment enforcement costs with the court, which adds the itemized costs to a judgment debtor’s debt. You must also credit whatever was recovered so far on the judgment on this form. If you are not 100% sure of interest owed, round down, because one should take great care not to collect more than one is owed.

In California, one must claim costs within two years of incurring them, and costs are added to the judgment debt after these three things are done:

1) A MC-12 form is filled out, and a copy of it is usually mailed, and occasionally personally served on the debtor, by someone who then completes a proof of service for it.

2) The MC-12 and the proof of service (POS) for it, is filed at the court.

3) The calendar time limit, for the debtor objecting to the MC-12 has passed.

In California, if you are claiming any kind of cost, the debtor must be served a copy of the completed MC-12. The judgment debtor is given 10 days if personally served, and 15 days if they are served by first class mail, to object to your MC-12.

Not every recovery expense can be added to a judgment. Each state has different laws. In general, examples of allowed expenses are the costs of getting or serving a writ, levy, garnishment, abstract of judgment, debtor examination, UCC lien, etc.

One cannot claim attorney fees to recover a judgment unless the contract the judgment was based on, had provisions for attorney fees. You also cannot add costs for postage, coffee, your time (if not a lawyer), parking fees, mileage, lunch, or many other non-court related expenses.

In California, judgment interest is currently 10% simple interest per year, and is not compounded, except at renewal. In calculations, one should truncate interest rates down, not round them up. (0.6039 becomes 0.603.)

In California, judgment interest is not compounded. Allowed costs are added to the judgment principal. Once costs are added, they increase the rate that the judgment interest accruals at after the judgment is renewed.

It is best to download the MC-12 form, or the equivalent form for your state, from a court web site, and fill it out as a fillable PDF and print it. Second best is typing it, the last choice is printing it out by hand.

Very few courts require copies of receipts for what is claimed. However, I have been at a few courts that wanted to see receipts for writs and abstracts issued recently by the same courts, which seems silly.

If you claim costs, you need to have someone else, over the age of 18 and not related to the case, print and sign their name on the MC-12’s POS, and put the MC-12 in an envelope that is mailed to the debtor.

You can pre-fill out everything, except where the person that serves the debtor prints and signs, which makes it easy for them. The POS (documenting that the MC-12 was delivered to the debtor) can be served personally, or (much more likely) served by first class mail.

If there are no costs, you can type “(No proof of service required – No costs, interest only)” in the “My Address” area at the top of the page, and sign and date the bottom of the page. Some court clerks do not fully know the law about this, and will want the POS done even when there are no claimed costs. Asking for a supervisor usually gets a MC-12 approved with no costs and no POS, if you sign the POS page.

Also, in chapter 4, section 10, page 16, of the small claims procedure manual published by the California Court Association Inc., says: “The memorandum must be served on the judgment debtor and a proof of service must be filed if costs are being added, but not if the judgment creditor is simply adding interest”

So, if only interest is being claimed on a MC-12 form, I write on the second page, the proof of service page, “no process of service is necessary for interest only, as per CCP 685.070(b) which says that if your are not claiming costs, there is no need to serve the debtor as set forth in the codes.

When the MC-12 is filled out as much as you can (everything except the printing and signature of the person who is going to serve it), make two copies of it, because one copy must be served on the judgment debtor.

You must prepare a stamped envelope, with your name and address on the return envelope, and the judgment debtor’s last known address. You should do some due diligence to verify the address of the debtor is correct.

Do not put anything related to judgments or debts owed on the outside of the envelope. Self-sealing envelopes are best. Pages should be folded inward to protect the privacy of the judgment debtor. You do not need a cover letter in the envelope, just the MC-12.

The person serving cannot be you. They can be a process server, someone at a mailbox rental store, a friend, etc. They might charge you. (If they do not charge you, consider giving them a gift once in while.) They must sign page 2 of the MC-12, (I recommend lending them a blue pen to sign, which best shows it is an original copy that the court needs), seal the envelope, and deposit the sealed and stamped envelope addressed to the debtor, in an active mailbox or the post office.

After the envelope is mailed, and the POS is signed, make a copy of the page signed by the person that served the debtor. Make sure you have 2 complete copies of the MC-12, with the first page and the POS page stapled together.

Bring or mail both copies to the court. They will stamp both, keep the original copy, and return the other copy to you. Keep your copy, for your records.

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