- Question: Why does the litigant (lender) have to be in court in order to accept witnesses that a debt was paid in a case where the defender (borrower) says he paid a debt of his deceased father’s and there is a receipt that it was already paid?
- The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 28:18) says that the only time the rule that a litigant must be present when accepting witnesses in court applies is when he is the one claiming money, (meaning he is trying to extract money from the other party) but one can bring witnesses to court even if he isn’t there in order to exempt himself from needing to pay anything.
- The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 108:16) says that children who inherited a document of debt for a loan from their father and then a receipt was found after the father’s death that the borrower had paid the debt, one shouldn’t rip up the document of loan or try to collect the debt until the orphans grow up since this receipt might have been forged which is why the borrower did not reveal it until after the father died. Even if there are witnesses who can testify that they remember the payment, there testimony is not valid testimony because we don’t accept testimony if the litigants aren’t present (and as children they are not considered present even if they show up to court.)
- Aren’t the witnesses used to exempt the borrower from making the payment so the litigant does not have to be there?
- Once a debt is paid the loan document is usually ripped up.
Answer: Ripping up the loan document is considered taking away from the litigant so the children must be adults and present in court in order to do that.