A recent court decision from the Philadelphia Courts should cause anyone with a commercial lease to review their contracts. The issue in this case required the court to determine if a confession of judgment clause in a commercial lease was enforceable. The Court ruled the confession of judgment clause was not enforceable against the tenant because the landlord did not strictly follow the statute. As a result, the Court struck down the confessed judgment. While not ground breaking in and of itself, the opinion serves as a reminder that a court will closely scrutinize all confessions of judgment. You can read the court’s decision by clicking here. Before we look closer at the court’s decision, a basic understanding of what a confession of judgement is and why it is so powerful is required.
What is a confession of judgment?
A confession of judgment clause is usually found in most commercial lending transactions and commercial leases. In a nutshell, a confession of judgment clause flips our notion of due process on it head. A confession of judgment clause authorizes the attorney for the bank or landlord to appear for the borrower or tenant without any notice and enter a judgment for a specific amount of money (or for possession of the premises in a lease situation). Think about this for a second. The first pleading your lender serves is the paper that informs you a judgment was entered against you. Game over. Or is it?