This article aims to discuss the necessity of open communication between yourself and your attorney especially when seeking and setting up a payment holiday plan.
Many people will at some point in their lives find themselves being involved in legal disputes. It goes without saying that litigating on a matter can take quite a while, especially if the matter is opposed.
In saying that, an attorney can become costly. The more time an attorney spends on your matter, the higher your legal bill.
Your financial situation can be either a short term or a long term problem. If it is a short term problem the restructuring of payments owing is much easier to do as opposed to a long term problem. It is however, important for you to maintain an open line of communication between yourself and your attorney. An attorney will only then institute legal action against you if you have not honored your commitments and/or if you haven’t advised them fully about your financial circumstances.
Your attorney may ask that you sign a contract for a certain period that limits your liability to pay them, this is known as a payment holiday. This is not to say that you are fully extinguished from ever paying your attorney again, but it is a contract that will stipulate the terms and conditions that will determine:
When the amounts are due;
What amounts are outstanding;
If there is any discount available e.g. the use of a collections tariff as opposed to an attorney’s full hourly rate; and
What interest, if any, will the debtor be liable for?
It is pertinent to note that a payment holiday plan will be based on the merits of a case, usually only used for a long term client and after a full financial assessment has been undertaken.
Be careful not to get a payment holiday plan confused with Pro Bono work. Most pro-bono work is work referred to attorneys by Pro Bono.Org in order to provide free legal assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for an attorney. http://www.probono.org.za/.
In conclusion, to set up a payment holiday plan with your attorney you must apply your mind to the following:
Be an existing client;
You must notify your attorney immediately of any financial change;
Share your financial history with your attorney;
Negotiate a contract and decide which terms and conditions suit both parties;
Honor your payments ( when the “holiday” is over); and
Always keep the lines of communication with your attorney open.
For any legal assistance or advice kindly contact us on 031 003 0630 or email us on Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.