Rhode Island Debt Collection Laws

Neill B. Lyon

Submitted by Neill B. Lyon, of Hodosh Lyon, & Hammer Ltd.


Published by The National List of Attorneys



Hodosh, Lyon, & Hammer Ltd is continuing its long tradition as a preeminent debt collection law firm in Rhode Island. While its business structure has changed over the years, the focus has been the same for well over twenty years. We put our intimate knowledge of the state’s laws and courts to work for our clients. We have clients that place hundreds of cases monthly, as well as clients that place only a few each year. We handle a broad variety of cases: retail, commercial, and medical collections. We currently have two partner attorneys, Neill B. Lyon and Scott L. Hammer. Neill has been practicing since 1987 and Scott since 1996. Both partners have participated in bar association and court committees, as well as being founding members of the Rhode Island Creditors’ Bar Association.

I. Essential Debt collection Laws

Rhode Island has a relatively small bar of attorneys that concentrate their practice in debt collection. Much of the practice has not changed in many years. The State Courts still maintain all files on “paper only,” creating special challenges for the practitioner who is trying to accommodate client demands and technological expectations. The laws are primarily statutory, with some long-standing common law. As a small state, only a few cases are decided by the Supreme Court each year, making case law sparse, particularly in the collection area.

A. Statute of limitations

While RI has several different limitation periods for other causes of actions, in nearly all collection actions the statute is ten years. Rhode Island General Laws (RIGL) section 9-1-13 is the applicable statute for all contracts, book accounts, charge accounts and similar actions. It is basically the “catch all” statute. Since these collection actions do not fall under any other specific statute, the “catch all” applies. The statute commences to run at the execution of the contract or opening of an account and re-starts each time a payment is made. In a recent US District Court decision, at least one Judge found that the longer RI statute applied, when confronted with debtor’s allegation that the shorter statute from the state of residence of the creditor applied. Florenzano v.LVNV Funding LLC, 062912 RIDC, CA 11-178M


B. Foreign Judgments


The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act has been adopted in RI. This, essentially, requires the filing of an affidavit, together with an exemplified copy of the foreign judgment. Absent a successful challenge to either the originating Court’s jurisdiction or service of the summons and complaint, the judgment may be enforced.


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