“She just did not want to be liable if he defaulted, a common regret felt by those who stand surety for defaulting debtors” (extract from judgment below)
A recent High Court case illustrates.
The mother, the son and the suretyship:
A mother signed an unlimited suretyship as “co-principal debtor” for her son’s bank debts totaling almost R4.8m from a home loan, an overdraft, and a credit card account. After her son’s estate was sequestrated the bank sued her for the shortfalls. The mother tried everything she could to evade liability. Her main defence was an attack on the validity of the suretyship, and she supported this with a string of claims, often self-contradictory. The bank official had misled her into thinking that she was signing not a suretyship but simply a consent form for an account migration. She hadn’t read the document. She had read the heading. Blank spaces in the document were filled in later. It conflicted with an oral agreement. It was limited not unlimited. Her signatures on other documents had been forged.
Let the signer beware – “I signed by mistake” won’t cut it