If late charges are not specified on a contract, am I legally responsible for them?

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If late charges are not specified on a contract, am I legally responsible for them?

I am being sued for a past payment due to a fraternity. The original charge was for $400. They have taken it upon themselves to levee late charges against me so that now the debt owed is $1200. There is no language in the original dues agreement about what late charges would be owed or how much they would be. They are now suing me for the whole $1200. I am willing to pay the $400 to have it go away but am I legally responsible for the other $800?

Asked on December 20, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not be charged late charges unless it was in the agreement you signed; one party to a contract may not unilaterally take it on itself to change terms or add obligations to the other party. Double check what the agreement says--for example, does it state you'd be responsible for legal fees or costs of collection, which could be substantial? or for interest?--but you should only be liable for what's in the agreement.


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