A potent tool for plaintiffs, including creditors, is a confession of judgment. Generally, a valid confession of judgment allows a party to skip almost all legal procedure and secure a judgment without notice upon breach of some agreement. With a valid confession of judgment in hand, a party, upon default, files the confession and is then able to execute or collect on a resulting judgment. The debtor who executes a confession of judgment admits to liability and submits to the jurisdiction of the court.
Confessions of Judgment are governed by CPLR 3218.
CPLR 3218 provides for the entry of a confession of judgment, at any time within three years of its execution, provided it is accompanied by an affidavit of confession by the debtor, specifically setting forth the following:
- The sum for which judgment may be entered;
- Authorization for the entry of judgment;
- The county where the defendant resides or the county in which entry is authorized if the defendant is a non-resident;
- If the matter involves money due or to become due, the facts out of which the debt arose must be stated concisely and that the sum confessed is justly due or to become due; and
- if the matter involves securing the plaintiff against contingent liability, the facts constituting the liability but be stated concisely and that the sum confessed does not exceed the amount of the liability.
In cases where the total amount under a contract has not become due upon filing of the confession of judgment, executions may only be issued for the amount then due at the time of filing. When the remaining amount becomes due, further executions may be issued.
Judgment by confession may not be entered after the defendant's death.
Once a valid confession of judgment is filed, the clerk will enter a judgment for the sum confessed and the Plaintiff can now use one of the enforcement tools (i.e. garnishment and
bank restraints) to collect the money judgment.
In instances involving joint debtors, one or more joint debtors may confess a judgment for a joint debt but judgment may only be enforced against those who confessed it. A confession of judgment from less than all of the joint debtors is not a bar to an action against the other joint debtors whom did not confess to judgment.
Before signing a confession of judgment in any transaction you should consult with an attorney. You are giving up a very important constitutional right and should never take any confession lightly.