DEAR MRS MACAULAY, I was in a relationship with this man who asked me to take out an unsecured loan for him from a financial institution with the promise that he would compensate me each fortnight when the amount would’ve been deducted from my salary. This he failed to do, but because we were involved, I just continued to do what I had to do. However, in the summer of last year he went overseas and the relationship ended. He sold a vehicle which he had here in Jamaica, but did not collect the full sum owed. He made arrangements for me to get the balance from the purchaser, but this is becoming a problem and the bank is pressuring me for the money. I reached out to him to ask him to step in until the money is forthcoming from the buyer, but he refuses.
To be honest, I am just tired of this burden and need some advice as to how I can go about ensuring that this debt is paid off.
My goodness! I have written about this issue several times, with different facts of course, but the common thread of all such letters is that they are written by women who are in relationships with men, then they take out loans and do not have their men sign contracts to pay the monies back. This is so irresponsible, and women get caught by being left with the unpaid debts and the men take off and the relationships end.
Your case has an added twist in that a third party was introduced into the transaction by you ex, and you accepted it, despite the fact that this third party had and has no factual or legal obligation to make any payments to you. There is no contractual relationship between you and the purchaser of the car. Only your ex has a contractual relationship with him, even though a verbal one. He and your ex no doubt know this and your ex clearly had no intention to pay back the money for his loan, which he inveigled you to obtain for him.
You willingly took on the monetary and legal obligation for a loan for a person who clearly needed money and did not have the means himself to obtain a loan. Why did this circumstance not put you on your guard? In such circumstances, it should not matter who asks you to do what you did, be it your mother, sister, brother, husband, or a person you are having a relationship with. You should have definitely refused to do so or go and get legal advice before you took the leap.
The fact that he had failed to pay back as he had promised should have caused you to act to protect your own interest (which you ought to have done by going to a lawyer before you got the loan and handed the money to him). You assumed this burden without any legal protection whatsoever. It seems to me that the only benefit you will have from this experience would be that you would never do such a thing for anyone else.
You are really in a difficult position and may not be able to get out of the obligation to pay off the debt yourself for the following reasons: 1. First, you cannot sue the purchaser of his vehicle because you do not even know if what he told you is true, that there is a balance due to him from this person. 2. Then, even if it is true, there is no nexus between you and the purchaser. As I said above, this purchaser has no duty or obligation to pay you anything and there is absolutely no basis for you to think that you can sue the purchaser and succeed. You will fail, as your claim would be dismissed and you would have to pay their costs. You have no written agreement between the purchaser and yourself that the balance of the purchase price would be paid to you. All you say is that your ex made arrangements for you to get the balance, but was this purported balance sufficient to defray the whole loan and interest? What, in fact, were the arrangements he made, if any? It seems to me that you were extremely gullible and not careful on your own account.
The only one you can legally claim against is your ex. He got you to apply for a loan for him as he needed and used the money, and he promised to pay you by instalments every fortnight but he did not. You did nothing. Then he sold his vehicle and did not pay you from the proceeds he received.
Your only possible claim is against your ex who is now abroad, and you have not stated where he is, which is an important factor to consider when you’re considering whether it would be worthwhile to file a claim against him in the first place. The fact that he is abroad does not bar you from suing him, but you must have his address as you will have to get leave to serve him abroad and do so, but only if it is in one of the countries, or one of the states in the United States which have reciprocal agreements with Jamaica regarding the enforcement of each others judgements.
You really have to go and see a lawyer and tell him/her all the details in person. You have not told me any details so I can suggest specific actions you could take. You failed by taking out the loan without seeking legal advice, and if you really want to understand your situation and whether you have any chance to obtain the monies due, you must get a lawyer and give them the information I have referred to above.
I really hope that this experience will prevent you from ever acting against your own interests as you did because you were in a relationship. Please try to always act prudently and take the steps necessary to protect yourself and all your interests by seeking legal advice before you enter into any contractual relationship on someone else’s behalf. The legal fees you would have to pay for a consultation with an attorney would prove to be cheaper than any losses you may suffer.
All the very best, and please think with your head and not your heart whenever you are asked to put yourself in a liable position for someone, whoever they are.
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 email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
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.