A recent case surrounding a money-lending agency and a resident of Orange Walk has marked the first documented ruling coming out of the courts in this regard. It is a ruling that was handed down earlier this week where PayDay and EZY Loans Pawning were ordered to give back a 30-acre property that was taken from Janine Vega when she was unable to repay three thousand dollars to the money lending agency. Vega was represented by Attorney Kevin Arthurs and Steve Perera who spoke to the media on the court judgement against the pawnshop owners, Laura and Julio Blanco.
Attorney Arthurs noted to Love News this morning that the money lending practices being carried out in Belize are outrageous as it is raping the poor people who rely on these services to bail them out of emergencies and dire situations. In this particular case, Justice Sonya Young note that the rate of interest charged for the loans was against the Moneylenders’ Act and was quote, ‘harsh and unconscionable’ …. For clarification and educational purposes we asked the attorneys to note the difference between pawnshops, loan facilities and loan sharks.
The two attorneys in this afternoon’s press conference echoed what Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman noted on social media earlier this week when it comes to borrowing and repayments. She advises that you get a contract in writing from the lender; that the contract includes the terms of the loan, the date, the principal amount and the effective annual rate of interest being charged. She also advises that you clearly understand what you are agreeing to and that you sign before handing over your asset or taking the money. In addition she noted that no contract or security can be enforced by any lender if it is proven that the contract was not signed by the borrower before the money was lent or before the security was given. As it relates to practices by the moneylenders and agencies, in Chapter 260 of the Laws of Belize, Section 19, it notes, quote, “Every moneylender shall display in a conspicuous and prominent place in the public part of his offices, the effective annual rate of interest he charges and all other charges and fees he levies on loans.” End of quote. In addition to all this Attorney Perera laid out the legal process that should be taken when a client is unable to repay a legitimate pawn shop or loan agency.
Further information on this topic can be found under the Money Lenders Act of the Laws of Belize.