Legal intervention to real life issues;
Q: I have been swindled by an agent who was to procure visas and work permits for me. How do I address this situation?
A: Okay, in my experience as a Legal Practitioner, I know that there are different routes to addressing such issues.
Some of the key factors would be to understand the terms of the contract, and know what both parties initially agreed upon; were both parties really clear as to the fact that the agent was going to procure visas and work permits? or did either of the parties have different expectations?
So a trip back in time would help. When you met the agent, and you were about closing the transaction, what exactly were the agreed expectations, obligations and benefits?
So when this is settled, what happened? Were you able to reduce the transaction into writing? If yes, it helps to ascertain the agreements reach by both parties.
In the event that there was only an oral agreement, not to worry, your transaction/contract is still valid. The thing to note about this, is that some parts of the agreement may be contentious and the only way to prove the existence of a contract would be through circumstantial evidence.
So, did you keep the evidence of payment? Do you have email trails or WhatsApp chat transcript to show the trail of conversation with respect to the transaction? Do you have a good recollection of activities and meetings that marked major milestones in the transaction?
The next question is what do you do? Good! Depending on your answers above, it is most likely that you have been able to prove that a transaction between you and the agent exists even if it is circumstantial in nature.
So what route should you take? A Legal Practioner would observe the situation and advise you on the remedies available. First would be to apply any of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms by requesting a meeting of both parties (physical or virtual), towards an amicable settlement.
In the event that the agent refuses to respond to the efforts to reach amicable settlement via the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism employed by your lawyer, you may consider litigation. This means that you may have to institute a matter against the agent.
You can decide to go civil by trying to enforce the terms of your contract or maintain an action for the contract to be revoked; citing breach of contract and you may get damages and other awards as the court may decide.
The procedure may take a while, but it is important that your lawyer manages your case and avoid unnecessary adjournments/delays.
On the flip side of it, you can explore the criminal route where the criminal acts of the agent to wit; fraudulent misrepresenting, criminal breach of trust and other offences are likely charges for the criminal acts which the agent perpetrated against you. However, the trial of the agent is not in your control as the Law Enforcement Officials first have to investigate the case, ascertain a prima facie case against the agent and then charge the agent to court.
The prosecution is the party trying to prove the agent guilty, while your lawyer can only watch your brief and provide legal support to the prosecutor. There is a need for the prosecutor to prepare and prosecute its case properly.
The agent on the other hand, would have the opportunity of entering his defence except he pleads guilty, and the prosecution has a duty to prove its case against the agent beyond reasonable doubt. At this point, you can now understand why you need to have a binding agreement in place at the first instance. You can imagine how much it would your case in court.
The court would eventually decide the fate of the agent and would give judgement accordingly if he or she is found guilty or not.
The large and larger picture here is the underlining need for you to get your lawyer involved and have agreements draw out in respect of any transaction from the beginning, as you cannot be too sure of how things would turn out. Even the devil does not know the intent of a man’s heart. Let your legal game be tight.
Damilola Mumuni advises businesses and people with respect to legal issues and challenges. Send emails and text to; email@example.com; 08064374302.