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Monetary Dispute

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Rabbi Jonathan Blass

3 Kislev 5763
Question
What are the principles for going to Beit Din about a monetary dispute?
Answer
All questions regarding a plaintiff and a defendant can be addressed properly only when both sides are heard from. There are, however, a number of principles that are generally applicable. 1- It is forbidden to prefer a civil court to a din torah even if the civil court is not made up of idolaters (Bet Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 26,1). 2- It is permitted for dayanim to charge the parties ONLY for income that the dayanim have demonstrably lost because of the time devoted to adjudicating the case (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 9,5). 3- It is possible for the dayanim to decide that one side has to pay the expenses of the other if they find that the one side has deliberately damaged the other by making him incur unnecessary expenses. 4- Either party can insist on a decision that is consistent or close to the letter of the halacha rather than on reaching a general compromise. 5- When the plaintiff and defendant live in the same city and there is no one established bet din in the city, an ad hoc bet din can be formed by each party picking one dayan and the two dayanim picking the third (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 13). 6- The sides to a case do not have to swear/affirm that they are telling the truth at the time their claims are made. It is a decision of the bet din to make one of the sides swear that he owes or is owed money.
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