Related Topic: Repossession of Mortgaged Automobiles
No business can survive without sufficient funds, as every action done in its operations generally have corresponding costs attached to it. When it comes to finances, however, one of the most common challenges faced by many businesses is the difficulty of collecting from their debtors the amounts owed to them. So, how is debt collection being carried out?
Pressuring debtors to obtain payment
Pressure may be employed, but only through legitimate means, such as filing of legal action, or availment of other legal remedies to collect the amount due. Resort to harassment in collecting from the debtor should be avoided, as this may enable the debtor to turn the table against the creditor who, because of his bullying, would just expose himself to civil liability for damages, and even criminal liability for coercion.
Some examples of such bullying would be by calling debtors during very inconvenient hours (e.g. between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM); employment of threats; misrepresenting oneself as lawyers, police officers, or other government authorities to intimidate the debtor; making false statements about an impending punishment in connection with a pending case where no case is actually pending; contacting the debtor’s friends, family, neighbors, and workmates, and discussing with them the details of the debtor’s indebtedness; and threatening to deposit post-dated checks prematurely.
Legal remedies in collecting unpaid debt
Creditors who are having problems collecting from their debtors may very well resort to the following legal remedies:
- To file an action for collection of sum of money before the court.
- In case the debt is secured by a mortgage, the creditor may choose either to file an ordinary action for collection, or he may have the mortgage foreclosed.
- In case there is a check issued, which bounced, the offended party may file a complaint for violation of the Anti-Bouncing Checks Law. This is a criminal action, and therefore imprisonment is among the possible consequences upon conviction.
Civil action for collection of sum of money
If the creditor opts to file an action for collection of sum of money, all that the creditor needs to establish are the existence of a transaction for which the debtor became indebted (which may be a loan, or any dealings that create obligations such as sale concerning unpaid purchase price, or lease concerning rentals), the amount of money owed by the debtor, the fact that the obligation is already due and demandable, and that a demand had been made by the creditor upon the debtor.
Please take note, though, that if the debt does not exceed P200,000.00 (excluding damages and interests), the creditor may file his claim before the Small Claims Court. Since the amount of the claim is relatively small and the relief prayed for is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money, it is the court’s policy in small claims proceedings not to keep these cases from dragging for long periods before finally being decided. Since the proceedings must be speedy, inexpensive, and informal, the Small Claims Procedure was made much more simple.
Foreclosure of mortgage
Foreclosure is a necessary consequence of non-payment of mortgage indebtedness. In a real estate mortgage, when the principal obligation is not paid when due, the mortgagee-creditor has the right to foreclose the mortgage and to have the property seized and sold for purposes of applying the proceeds to the payment of the obligation [See: G.R. No. 178367].
Foreclosure of mortgage may be done through a complaint filed in court (judicial foreclosure). But the creditor, if authorized by the debtor in writing, may foreclose the mortgage constituted on the property without going to court (extrajudicial foreclosure). By virtue of his granted authority, the creditor may take possession of the mortgaged property, and sell it in a public auction, subject to the requirement that notice of the sale has to be given by posting the same for not less than 20 days in at least three public places in the city or municipality where the property is situated [See: Sec. 2, Act No. 3135]. If no such authority to sell was granted to the creditor, then he has no other alternative but to resort to judicial foreclosure.
If the proceeds of the sale are insufficient to cover the entire amount of the debt in an extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage, the creditor is entitled to claim the deficiency from the debtor [See: G.R. No. 175816].
Criminal action for violation of Anti-Bouncing Checks Law
The Anti-Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22) was passed for the specific purpose of addressing the problem of continued issuance and circulation of unfunded checks. B.P. Blg. 22 considers the mere act of issuing an unfunded check as a criminal offense [See: G.R. No. 191404].
Violation of B.P. Blg. 22 shall be punished by imprisonment for 30 days to 1 year, or by a fine of double the amount of the check, but in no case it shall exceed P200,000.00. Both such fine and imprisonment may, however, be imposed at the discretion of the court.
With such remedies that every creditor may avail of against the defaulting debtor, all such creditor has to do is to choose what he believes is most effective and convenient based on the circumstances surrounding his credit. Always bear in mind that unless creditors take action, many debtors will simply ignore their obligations. Precious cash need not be unnecessarily sacrificed, especially by business entities, simply because of difficulty in collecting debts. This holds very true when the money to be collected could be used on other business activities that would bring more money in the pocket.
Alburo Villanueva Law Office specializes in business law and labor law consulting. For inquiries regarding credit and debt collection laws, you may reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or dial us at (02)416-3809/0917-5772207.
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