Judge orders jail for woman who failed to pay debt

Justice Frank Seepersad -
Justice Frank Seepersad -

A High Court judge has sent a Trincity woman to prison for failing to pay a judgment debt.

However, Beverly Sewsarran has received a reprieve, as her 14-day sentence was suspended once she pays the debt by July 1.

Justice Frank Seepersad made the order on April 16, in a ruling on a contempt application against Sewsarran brought by a businessman seeking repayment of a judgment debt of $159,504.70, which includes interest, along with $50,000 in costs.

It should have been paid starting in July 2023, and ending on January 31, 2024, according to a payment plan agreed to by the parties in a consent order entered into by a Master of the High Court.

The sum represented what was owed to Victor Jattan in a claim he filed against Sewsarran and another person. He withdrew the claims against the other person, and judgment in default was entered against Sewsarran.

Jattan sought payment on several occasions before filing the contempt application in January. His application said Sewsarran asked for an extension because she had financial challenges and he agreed.

However, when the new deadline of March 4 arrived, she still did not pay. She asked again for additional time, and Jattan said messages to her went unanswered.

“Given how this matter has developed, I can only surmise that the judgment debtor is not being sincere when she makes promises to pay the sums due and owing to me.”

His attorney said Bryan Mc Clutchon told the judge all the procedures had been followed and Sewsarran was well aware of the order, which included a penal clause for repayment of the debt.

However, her attorney, Peter Taylor, asked the court for mercy, saying his client had financial difficulties after the pandemic but expected to receive funds by June.

Seepersad said, “I hold there was an unjustified and inexcusable refusal to obey the court's order.”

He said a message must be sent to all defaulting debtors that failing to abide by a civil court order can and will result in imprisonment.

“Civil court orders cannot be disregarded…It must resonate with all citizens that civil court orders must be complied with. Compliance with court orders is not discretionary.”

He acknowledged that society was operating under severe economic challenges and said a high prevalence of instances where judgment debtors do not comply was likely.

But he said a “no-tolerance approach to unlawful conduct in all manifestations must be adopted and the enforcement of the laws must take precedence without fear or favour.

“The rule of law demands there must be compliance with court orders,” he said as he granted the order committing Sewsarran to prison.

In addition to the amount she already has to pay, Sewsarran was also ordered to pay the cost of the contempt application of $4,500.


"Judge orders jail for woman who failed to pay debt"

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