Facing an inquest as part of your debt collection case? Knowing how to prepare for an inquest is crucial if you want to recover the most money in your debt collection case.
There are two main components you’ll need to prove in your debt collection case: liability and damages. You must prove both of these in order for the court to award a judgment in your favor.
First, you will need to prove that your non-paying customer is legally obligated to you. This is done by proving the parties had a binding agreement. Agreements are not always a written contract, however, you would have to prove there was an agreement for the goods and services to be sold, loan to be made, and that the party failed to pay.
The amounts owed to you are considered your damages. Through evidence presented by way of your testimony and supporting documentation, you document the amounts owed to you.
Why an Inquest?
Often a judge may grant liability, acknowledging legal obligation between the parties, but may have questions as to the amount owed.
Take for example our accounting client who, despite not having a signed engagement letter, established his former client engaged him to do work. The court questioned the actual amount owed to our client. Therefore, the case was set down for inquest.
Another example: a subcontractor client was engaged to render services at a building but because the service calls and charges were in question, the case was set down for inquest.
How to Prepare for an Inquest
The best way to prepare for an inquest is to proceed as though you were preparing for trial. Your debt collection counsel will prepare you for your verbal testimony as well as the documents needed.
All of the documents that evidence goods sold and delivered, and/or labor and services performed should be organized. The documents, if pertinent, will be used as exhibits to be lined up with your testimony. Since testimony is limited to damages, the focus is more on documentation supplemented by oral statements.
The creditor will call its witnesses. Keeping in mind that liability has already been established, the testimony will be geared towards the goods and services sold, the work labor and services provided, or the money loaned. The witness(es) called will present testimony of how the transaction between the parties occurred. The witness(es) will be shown and will identify the invoices/statements and work products that are the basis of the plaintiff’s case together with proof of payments if any. Finally, the witnesses will state that a demand was made for payment and confirm the outstanding balance due to the plaintiff.
What Happens at the Inquest?
A representative of the creditor’s company will provide testimony about the labor and services or goods sold and delivered. A formal introduction of the documents that support your damages will be made to utilize the business record rule. Questions regarding the facts of the underlying transaction that occurred with the debtor will be asked and agreements between the parties will be introduced into evidence. Introducing documents i.e. invoices and statements, demands for payment, and more will continue to prove your damages.
There are instances in which the debtor may choose to appear to question the creditor’s testimony in an attempt to show the work was not done or the damages were not established by the plaintiff. Regardless of whether the debtor appears or not, the judge will issue a ruling on the inquest and grant the creditor a judgment for the amount of damages proven.
Looking to win your debt collection case? Contact FFGN today to learn more about how to prepare for an inquest or place a debt collection case.