LOUISIANA’S SELF-HELP LAW PART TWO

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By Jerry Edwards

The Additional Default Remedies Act (also known as Louisiana’s Self-Help Law) allows certain creditors to repossess motor vehicles from defaulting debtors without the normal judicial process, but it has a procedure with which creditors must comply to exercise that right. This article is the second part of a three part series and will focus the act of repossession. Part one of this series examined the procedure a creditor must follow prior to repossession. Part three will focus on the proper procedure after repossession.

The Act of Repossession

The Self Help Law requires the person who physically takes possession of the motor vehicle to be a licensed repossession agent.[1] The physical act of repossessing a motor vehicle must be done without breach of the peace.[2] There is no guidance in Louisiana law as to what constitutes a breach of the peace; however, it is likely that the threat of violence or act of violence by the debtor would constitute a breach of the peace.[3] Courts in other jurisdictions are split on whether a debtor’s verbal objections would constitute a breach of the peace.[4] Until there is clear guidance on this issue in Louisiana creditors should be cautious about the forcible removal of the motor vehicle over any type of protest by the debtor as such action could be construed to constitute a breach of the peace.

[1] La. R.S. 6:966(D)

[2] La. R.S. 6:966(B)

[3] Ryan McRobert, Defining “Breach of the Peace” in Self-Help Repossessions, 87 Wash. L. Rev. 569, 581-582 (2012).

[4]Id.

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