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Struggling to get money from a borrower

Mar 28 2013 13:56
A Fin24 user is struggling to get his money back from a borrower. He writes:

I have a signed acknowledgement of debt from someone who owes me money. As they are not paying, I want to get a judgment issued against them.

I have been to a lawyer and so far it has taken nine months and still nothing. I am told they are waiting for a court date, then they are waiting for the magistrate to make a decision and that there are backlogs with the courts and magistrates...

My question is: should it really take so long to get a judgment issued when you have a signed acknowledgement of debt, or am I being left hanging by the lawyer handling it?

Friedl Kreuser of Summit Financial Partners responds:

Backlogs at your local magistrate's court could have an impact, but the timeline to get a judgment would depend much more on whether or not the debtor is opposing the legal action initiated by your attorneys.

You should ask your attorneys whether this is the case and, if so, on what grounds the debtor is opposing.

If the debtor has opposed the action, your attorneys would have to wait for a court date to argue your case before a magistrate, and this can be a lengthy process.

Even so, nine months is a long time and you should ask your attorneys for a full breakdown of what has happened so far, as well as a copy of all legal documents issued by both parties.

If there are legitimate complications, they should be able to explain these to you.

If, however, the debtor has not opposed the action (which seems more likely, given that he has signed an acknowledgment of debt and is unlikely to have a strong defence), nine months seems excessive, as they would only need to apply to the Clerk of the Court for default judgment, which should be a quick process.

In any event, you should clarify your attorneys' fee structure to avoid any nasty surprises when their bill finally arrives.

 - Fin24

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