In a recent case a person sought help from a lawyer to recover money owed to him. It turned out that the other party had entered into the terms of trade under an alias.

The creditor was familiar with the person he had entered into business with, however he was unaware of the other party’s real name, and did not seek proof of identity when entering into terms of trade with them. This made it difficult to enforce the debt because the other party was simply able to say, ‘You have the wrong person, my name is …’

When entering into terms of trade with a person make sure that you receive proof of identity. This could be as simple as sighting his or her driver’s licence or passport. It pays to keep a photocopy of the identification for your records.

When entering into terms of trade with a business make sure that the person signing the documentation has the authority to do so. One quick way is using the Companies Office’s online register to see who is listed as the Director of the company.

A Director has power to enter into terms of trade on behalf of the company, or may delegate that power to another person. It is advisable to get written authority from an appropriate person on behalf of the company if it is not a Director signing the documents.

Any person entering into terms of trade with a company should get the Director to sign a personal guarantee. In the event that the company cannot pay the debt, the Director will be personally responsible to do so.

This ensures that when it comes to recovering money owed, a person cannot rely on an alias or lack of authority to escape liability.

Mikayla Turner
Litigation lawyer
Wellington