I loaned $150,000 to my friend and he promised to return it with interest after 2 years. Well more than 2 years have passed and he has not paid a cent. I have a notarized copy of the agreement, and would like to bring him to court. He has means to pay the debt because he runs a really good business.
You should hire a lawyer to sue your friend. This should be a straightforward case (baring any important details that are not addressed in the question above). Based upon the signed agreement it would seem that the primary concern is does your friend have enough money to settle the lawsuit or repay you the loaned money? If you obtain a judgment it is enforceable for up to 20 years (this is the general standard in most jurisdictions - check the CA rule). As far as cost, some attorneys will charge you a flat fee, others charge hourly and some will accept a contingency fee arrangement.
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You should seek a debt collection attorney. Yes, it is typical for a collection attorney to be paid on a contingency fee basis, which means no attorney's fees to you in the event of no recovery, and a percentage of the recovery (which percentage is fully negotiable). Even with a contingency fee arrangement, however, you will typically still have to pay the costs, such as the court filing fee, process server fee, deposition court reporter, and jury fees.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement nor a solicitation.
I am always amazed that cost is an issue when seeking representation on a major legal issue. Right now, doing nothing is costing you $150,000. Lawyers charge what the believe their services are work, there is no 'one size fits all' charge to hire a lawyer. Hope this perspective helps.
You need a business or debt collection attorney.
A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you.
Get a good civil litigation-breach of contract and collections attorney. Look for attorneys like myself. Use the Avvo Lawyer Finder tool.
Unfortunately, appearances are not always what they seem. Collectability is always an issue. If this is a self-drafted note, chances are there are issues with it. Is the interest usurious? Does it contain an attorney fee provision? Is his “really good business” in his own name or it is a business entity?
Since this is a one-off case, your contingency rates will be high and, as others have posted, you will probably be required to advance costs. You may find it cost effective to pay hourly or blended rates for a lower contingency percentage if, as you say, the debtor has the ability to pay.
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I agree with most of the comments above. You should consult with an attorney regarding the agreement you made (just being a notarized copy does not mean you will not have trouble enforcing it), and your collection actions. You do not explicitly state that this is a business loan, and so there may be a lot of hazards to avoid in attempting to collect it, including interest, the form of the contract, and questions of enforceability. In addition, you say it has been "more than 2 years" but not how much more. California law indicates that you have 4 years (after the breach) to sue someone based on a written breach of contract. You should contact an attorney sooner rather than later.
In a situation like this, especially with so much money at stake, you need to consult with an attorney about the agreement and your options for recovering the money. You should do it quickly, because the longer you wait the more problems may spring up at you.
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