Column Raymond de Mooij
Column Raymond de Mooij

Like gentlemen

The pretty, Asian woman sitting across from me was visibly disconcerted. Her hand trembled as she handed me a default judgment. Lucy Chin had to vacate a store due to a rental debt. “I own a beauty salon near the Binnenhof,” my client said. “I recently got a new landlord, an Englishman. He is called Peter Rude, a really terrible guy.”

In any event, the landlord had shown little understanding for the financial problems my client faced as a result of the corona crisis.

“When I transferred slightly less rent in April, he was immediately on the doorstep,” said Lucy Chin. “He scolded me and hit the shop window hard. While there was a customer inside.”

My client then wrote to her landlord requesting his agreement with a rental discount of 20 percent. This led to a return visit by the landlord to the client’s shop. This time Peter Rude brought his lawyer, Mr. Harold Trip, with him. “The two of them yelled at me for half an hour. That lawyer was worse than my landlord.”

When Lucy Chin wanted to enter her shop a few days later in the morning, it turned out to be impossible: the lock on the door was sealed with glue. That evening she received a call from Peter Rude. “He laughed and asked if I had closed my shop properly. I think he was drunk and called from a pub.” When my client received another call from the same number shortly afterwards, she recorded the call.

She let me listen to the recording. After Peter Rude scolded my client, Mr. Harold Trip came on the phone. The lawyer said he would ensure Lucy Chin would go bankrupt and be put on the street with her child. The roaring went on for twenty minutes.

On behalf of my client, I had a notice of opposition issued and filed a counterclaim. I argued that the eviction of the rented property was not justified due to the low rent arrears. My client was willing to leave voluntarily, however, because she wanted nothing more to do with Peter Rude and Mr. Trip. However, the 30,000 Euros she had previously invested in the store had to be compensated.

One day after the summons was served, I received a call from Peter Rude. “I read your summons. My compliments,” said the man sweetly. “But isn’t it better if we settle the matter? That way we save both time and money.”

I took a deep breath. “So you want to arrange things properly?” I asked.

“That’s right,” replied Mr. Rude. “Or as we say in England: like gentlemen.”

This column was written for Den Haag Centraal, in which Raymond de Mooij writes monthly about what he experiences in his practice.