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Sa’if 1, Mechaber: In response to claim made by the lender before the maturity date, the borrower says he has already repaid the loan. Following the maturity date, the lender claims the repayment of the loan again. In response to this second claim, the borrower now says he repaid the loan after the maturity date. The court will rule against the defendant. Since he was not believed the first time when he said he repaid the loan before the maturity date, he has lost his credibility in the eyes of the court. Accordingly, he will not be believed the second time when he says he repaid the loan after the maturity date.

Rama: According to some opinions, the legal presumption that a person does not repay before the maturity date applies only to loans. It does not apply to money that is held by the defendant in trust to invest for the benefit of others and which he is not at liberty to spend for himself. Such monies are like other items of deposit and the defendant will be believed when he say he returned them before their stipulated date of return. Rent money payable to a landlord at the end of the agreed period of tenancy is deemed a loan. Therefore, the tenant will not be believed if he says he prepaid the rent. If the defendant hired the plaintiff to print several pamphlets for him, the date for payment would be the completion of each pamphlet. Accordingly, in response to a claim for payment for all of the pamphlets upon their completion, the defendant would be believed if he said he paid for each one after its completion. The same would be true for any work that could be compartmentalized in that way.

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NER EYAL: A lender sues the borrower on the basis of a past due promissory note. The borrower claims in his defense that he has already repaid the loan evidenced by the note. In this situation, the lender will have to rebut the claim of the borrower that he already repaid the note. He will have to swear a Shevuat Heiset oath of denial that he did not receive repayment from the borrower. However, a lender who sues at the very first moment of the beginning of the day on which the loan falls due will, according to most opinions, be able to collect without the need to take a Shevuat Heiset oath of denial. The legal presumption in his favor, that a person does not prepay his loan, obviates the need to take a Shevuat Heiset oath of denial.

The legal presumption that a person does not prepay his debt applies only in cases where the maturity date is stipulated. It is assumed the debtor told the lender he needed the time between the giving of the loan and the maturity date to assemble the funds with which to repay the lender. That is why he is not believed when he claims to have prepaid it, because it contradicts his state of mind at the time of the loan. This legal presumption does not apply, however, to a loan with no stipulated maturity date. Although the presumption is that a loan with no stipulated maturity date is repayable within 30 days, there is no presumption that a person would not repay it before that time. In addition, the presumption that a debtor does not prepay a loan only applies where the plaintiff pleads his case with certainty. He is certain that he lent the money and that he has not been repaid. If the plaintiff is uncertain, the legal presumption does not apply.

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Raphael Grunfeld received semicha in Yoreh Yoreh from Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem of America and in Yadin Yadin from Rav Dovid Feinstein. A partner at the Wall Street law firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, Rabbi Grunfeld is the author of “Ner Eyal: A Guide to Seder Nashim, Nezikin, Kodashim, Taharot and Zerayim” and “Ner Eyal: A Guide to the Laws of Shabbat and Festivals in Seder Moed.” Questions for the author can be sent to rafegrunfeld@gmail.com.