Recovering money from a debtor
If you are a businessperson, then chances are that you’ve had that one person (or maybe more) who has owed you money for weeks, months, or maybe even years!! You keep calling the person, and you keep getting the run around and calls not being picked. Well, this post is for you.
This post is also for regular people who have lent money to friends and these ‘friends’ have then refused to pay the money back.
This article will lay out the steps under Nigerian law, which you would have to follow in order to quickly (and safely) recover your debt.
Firstly, you should never resort to self-help, it never turns out well if you go to your debtor’s house or place a business threatening violence, or sending aggressive or intimidating text messages or e-mails. It could actually back fire and open you up to legal liability. The law in Nigeria is there for a reason – to protect people, and to provide a framework for the safe exercise of your rights and duties.
Steps to follow
Below are the steps which we suggest you follow if someone who you lent some money to has refused to pay you back-
- If the agreement to lend money is in writing, then follow the process laid out in the agreement for recovering the debt. Well drafted Agreements have a clause that explains what steps are to be taken to recover the debt, it is therefore advisable to follow those steps if such a clause exist
- If the agreement is not in writing (or doesn’t lay out a debt recovery procedure), then the first step you need to take is to make what is known as a ‘demand’ by writing a ‘Letter of Demand’. This letter of demand should succinctly state-
- Who is involved – the name and address of both you and the person who owes you money
- How much is owed
- A date by which you expect payment (at least seven days)
- Details of the steps you’ll take if payment isn’t received (more on this below)
- The letter should preferably be sent by a means that ensures delivery to the person, for example by using a courier where the letter has to be signed for.
- Hopefully, a letter of demand shows that you are serious about recovering your money, but also and more importantly it lays the foundation for a potential court case (if this ultimately goes down that route)
- If after the period for payment as stated in the Demand letter has expired, and the debtor has still refused to pay you, the next step would be to get in touch with a lawyer who will attempt to recover the debt for you. The process for recovery on a debt, which is undisputed, is pretty straightforward, and the court processes in Lagos, Abuja and a number of other states allow for these sorts of cases to be fast-tracked.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.