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Legal Question

Posted By: native101

Legal Question - 07/15/11 02:50 AM

Can anyone local to Caye Caulker or Belize advise me regarding a local CC man that owes me money? I have it in writing. Will I need to hire a Belize attorney or how do things like this work? I have already gone back to the U.S. Any advice welcome.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:05 AM

The amount in question will determine whether or not it's worth the cost and effort. Over a certain amount (can't remember the exact amount but it's not much) and you'll have to go to supreme court which requires an attorney. If you do actually get a judgement will he be able to pay...
Posted By: PROBUS

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:11 AM

I have a feeling the cut-off is $5000, but I may be wrong.

Even if you get a judgement in your favour, you may need a separate court action to get the money from him. And then if he simply doesn't pay, what then? The civil law system in Belize functions largely to give work to lawyers.
Posted By: native101

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:34 AM

The amount is around $1,500 Belize. He could pay if he got the money from his family OR quit spending $30 Belize dollars a day on cigarettes and beer. I'd be glad to take small payments.
Posted By: native101

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:36 AM

No nothing happens when the court orders them to pay? How about can they make him give me or sell the items he bought with the money that he was supposed to give me?
Posted By: Short

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 06:36 AM

You can threaten with criminal action (doesn't cost you extra and you already won the civil suit). I had something similar a few years back where someone owed me about 2,000 dollars. By accident I took criminal action in stead of civil action (in front of the magistrate court) and the guy was sentenced to more than 1 year in jail, but he disappeared. He recently resurfaced and if he doesn't pay, I'll have him arrested.
Posted By: Capt. Hollywood

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 07:30 AM

I can help you with this as I am going through this right now with several people in Belize City.

You have to go to civil court in Caye Caulker and file an action which will cost $4.00bz to file. ( civil court is good for any amounts under $5,000.bz and you don't need a lawyer you can do it yourself.
A friend or agent can file for you but you will have to come to the court date which will be after they serve the defendant with a summons. (You will have to keep on top of it and keep phoning the court because they are not very good at notifying you of court dates on their own.)

If you have a paper such as a promissary note which he has signed you will probably get a judgement against him pretty easily. again on your court date you can represent yourself and explain to the judge the circumstances and present your evidence. (be prepared to return to court on several occasions before it actually gets to trial.)

If you get a judgement the magistrate will decide how and when payments will be made.... sometimes depending on what the defendant asks for with regard to his ability to pay, job situation and family commitments etc...

Getting a judgement...thats the easy part...collecting this is the hard part....

If he does not pay, you go to the Bailiff and first get a distress warrant. They will go to his residence and collect
non essential possesions of his and sell them at auction.(they can't take his bed, clothing or other such "essentials of living". you will then get paid from the proceeds. If he has nothing of value or the proceeds are not enough to cover the judgement, you go back to the bailiff and apply for a commital warrant, which means the magistrate will order that they take him to jail for a certain amount of time(usually a couple or few months) or until he makes some sort of payment.

If he does not pay he will stay in jail for the time the judge sets and once he is released the debt is still owing. so you wait a while and again if he dosen't pay you go back again, and again until he gets the message.

Sounds like a lot of hassle for 1500 especially since you are in the US but unfortunately that is exactly what he is relying on. so it really is up to you.
If you don't plan on spending some time down here the cost of a flight is going to be more than you will probably recover plus all the hassle. It is a very long and tedious process and you have to monitor it closely. It has taken me over a year to collect on four actions I have filed and been awarded judgements, and the monthly payents are small and infrequent from $20 - 200 per month. You will need a lot of patience and an incredible amount of persistance.


Good Luck.
Posted By: catdance62

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:06 PM

Neither a lender nor a borrower be. That is all.
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Legal Question - 07/15/11 03:11 PM

i have almost the exact same story as Capt Hollywood.
it took 3 years and several arrest warrants but i GOT MY MONEY BACK! and since the guy was not keeping track, i added in all my gas money to the total.
to me it was worth every headache.
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