Briones: ‘Harassment’

AN American national who claims to be from New York City has threatened to take three young local web developers to court for alleged breach of contract.
One of the contractors is a relative and has asked for my advice.

I’m no lawyer. So I won’t pretend to be one by coming up with some legal mumbo jumbo, but I do have common sense. So let me have a go at it from a layman’s perspective, I told him.

My relative said he received a legal notice from the American on email.

Hmm. That sounded serious, I thought.

Did the legal notice have a letterhead, I asked. Because, and I’m only assuming since I’m not a lawyer, if the notice was legal of nature then it would have to come from a legal establishment. Right?

Okay, even if I’m wrong, the notice must come from a third party that the American had contracted to contact my relative and his partners like, say, a collection agency. Right?

No on both accounts, my relative said.

Oh. What did it say then, I asked.

It had “web contract dissolution” and “legal notice served.” It had his name, the site, the reason--“developers failed to uphold contract”--and location “New York City.”

It would appear the American had written the legal notice himself. And yet, by the tone of his chats, he had already gone to a lawyer and filed a complaint.

That was why I asked my relative to ask the American who his lawyer is here in Cebu. The American did not respond. And then the American said that he would take my relative and his partners to the barangay to settle the matter.

I’m like, what? From a legal notice from New York to a powwow in the barangay hall. Something’s amiss here.

I told my relative to ignore the notice. If the American wants to sue, let him, I said. After all, my relative and his partners didn’t do anything wrong. Right?

I asked my relative for a copy of the contract. He said they weren’t given one.

Seriously? I felt like taking my relative by the shoulders and shaking him for being so, and I apologize for saying it, stupid and naive.

No wonder, the American is taking advantage.

He sees three young, smart, eager web-savvy Cebuanos who want to earn extra. He contracts them for a measly amount and then tries to dupe them by threatening them with legal action for not coming up with the goods, so to speak.

And yet, the American, who has not paid my relative and his partners a single centavo even on the agreed date that he was supposed to make a down payment, is demanding that they hand over everything that they’ve worked on.

I advised my relative to report the American to the Bureau of Immigration.
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