Ex-girlfriend refuses to pay debt

All Woman

DEAR MRS MACAULAY,

What legal action can I take to recover the sum of $200,000 lent to an ex-girlfriend, which was supposed to be repaid in two weeks? It has been two and a half years now and I am getting the runaround. No contract was signed but we made a verbal agreement regarding the payment.

Your situation is very simple and straightforward. You have to sue your ex-girlfriend for the $200,000 which she borrowed from you and which she was due to repay two weeks after the date of the loan. This is the legal action which you must take.

You state that no contract was signed, but what you had was most certainly a verbal contract following the agreement to pay you back in two weeks. Those were the terms of the agreement and when you handed the money to her the contract was complete and she was legally bound to repay it at the end of two weeks from that date.

You say that you are getting the runaround; by this I understand that when you demand the repayment, she promises to pay at a certain time and then fails to do so and that this has happened more than once.

Though your contract was not a written one, it is enforceable in law. This is not one of the contracts which in law must be in writing to be enforceable. For instance, a contract to purchase land must be in writing or there must be a sufficient memorandum/note of the terms of the purchase and sale with a clear description of the land and the sale price and parties involved with the date it is made. A simple and straightforward loan does not require a written contract or a memorandum in writing for it to be enforceable.

You therefore have the right to go to the parish court and file your claim for the capital sum you loaned your ex-girlfriend, with interest thereon from the date of the loan to the date of payment. If you took the money out of your savings account and your interest was a good one and higher than the legal standard, you can claim that rate, but you will have to prove that you took the money from there and what your interest rate was and is. Or you can just say you claim interest from the date of the loan (I trust that you remember this) to the date of judgement or payment as ordered by the court. You should also include a claim for your costs, so that the fees you pay for filing, bailiff's fee and any other that the judge orders, can be recovered.

In the particulars of your claim you must add the times when you demanded the repayment of the $200,000. These are particulars which are very relevant as they lay the ground for your claim to state that your ex-girlfriend has failed, neglected, and/or refused to repay the said loan. They would also assist you, if you decide to ask the court to make a garnishee order for the money to be deducted from her salary, if she is employed, in such terms and such periods as is ordered by the court until the total ordered money is paid up.

You can go yourself to the court office to have your claim done with the assistance of the clerk as there are no legal intricacies involved in the matter. You must pay the fees for such filing. If you do it yourself, I suggest that you ask that the court bailiff serve the documents on her. Or, you can be extra prudent and obtain the services of an attorney to act for you in pursuing your claim. This is for you to decide, as you must consider the fees you would have to pay the lawyer. I, however, strongly suggest that you obtain the services of a lawyer to assist you as you do not know what defence she may come up with and you may become angry and do not know how to deal with it effectively during the trial if she does not admit it on the return day, which is the first day your matter is called in the court. If she does not attend on that day to answer your claim, the court can proceed on that same day to have a default hearing and enter judgement in your favour. If so, you must know all that you must tell the court in your evidence and do so cogently. Anyway, as I say, it is for you to decide whether you will obtain the services of a lawyer or not.

I would advise you to proceed to file your claim or have it filed soon, rather than keep waiting for more years to pass, because you can claim for interest. If you wait, you may wait too long and exceed the limitation period for filing such a claim. You are almost halfway there now. Do not wait any longer. Act now when you know where your ex-girlfriend is to be found and get your judgement so that you can get your money back with interest since she has breached the agreement and has denied you the use of your money for an appreciable time.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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