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December 7, 2003 

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Your Advocate

This week your advocate is M. Moazzam Husain of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. His professional interests include civil
law, criminal law and constitutional law.

Q: Few years back I started a small printing business with financial help of my friend. My friend gave the money as loan and I promised him to give back the money within 2 year without any interest. The whole transaction was made verbally. Later, because of loss in business, I did not pay him the money back. Then, he proposed me to take him as a working partner of the business. From then we are running the business on partnership without any formal agreement. Now my friend is asking the money back as he wants to start a new business. It would be really impossible for me to run the business if I pay the money to him. So, I requested some time, but he refused. Some days ago, he sent me a legal notice through a lawyer to pay the money within this December; otherwise he will take legal action against me. I am always wiling to give the money back, but I need some time to do so. My question is (1) what would be the consequence if I refuse to pay the money within time, and (2) should I consult a lawyer in this issue? Your opinion will help me to take any decision. Thank you in anticipation.
R Islam,

Your Advocate: Relationship between you and your friend looks very rare in the present day context. He is a friend in deed. You too do not lag behind on that scale. You equally feel for him as a friend and sincerely wants to pay back his money. But some business- setbacks have slowed you down in the repayment of the loan. Whole contrast is, you want to pay back the money at your convenience taking some time while your friend wants it back within a deadline fixed by him. Certainly he has strong point in it. Because, he is in need of money at the moment and you have once earlier failed to keep your words in repaying the loan within the time given by you and still giving priority to your own convenience.

Now at the end of the day a legal notice is served upon you at the instance of your friend adding a new dimension to already disturbed relationship. I understand your embarrassment and limitations. The whole thing is going to cost you your otherwise good friendship. It is a critical juncture of your life and the decision that is to be taken is crucial. At this moment there are obviously two options open for you. One is, you can remain silent and wait for an action to be taken by your friend and respond according as the situation demands or you can be good to your friend and make at least a part repayment of the loan and solicit his favour so that you can arrange for further repayment in a reasonable time. A reasonable man is most likely to take the second course for the simple reason that convenience cannot be more valuable than friendship. After all he is your friend and the legal notice is the reflection of a disturbed mind. The ball is in your coat. It is time for you to show gestures of good friendship. Let the situation not go further worse which you too do not inwardly want.

You can take the first option if you so judge for yourself. In that case you can get some time in repaying the loan at the cost of your friend's time, energy and money. Approaching a lawyer will come along. But should you do it as a prudent man and a friend? I hope, not.

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