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David Smith

16 March 2017
I have been working overseas in Indonesia for a property management company and have ended up in a debt dispute between a client and which should be direct with the company that I was working for. The manipulative owner of the company owes me money also and I believe he owes the client money, however, he has manipulated it so the client is coming after me directly as I was his point of contact within the company and held the main relationship.

From what I can gather and without writing a novel, my old employer has as he does best, talked his way out of this money dispute and put the blame on me directly. Or the client has had no luck with getting the money from this dodgy indo company owner. Or more than likely both.

I had already resigned from mentioned company (actually I just stopped turning up as I had no employment contract anyway) as I was not paid, never received an employment contract, never received a work permit to work in Indonesia and it all became clear that the boss was a complete crook! And very good at it I must say.

I basically had a breakdown after trying to resolve the debt dispute between the client who I kept in contact with the ex boss. The ex boss intentionally wore me down and made things very difficult by being both deceptive and manipulative and eventually I had a breakdown and returned to Aus.

Suffering from Depression and Anxiety as far back as I could remember (but only diagnosed in recent years) after a few months back at home trying to re coup, I became more and more depressed and this money issue also followed me back to Aus with many email exchanges and trying to get an accountant to sort it out proved very difficult due to ex boss withholding bank and other important details etc. In the end I had enough and told everyone to basically go jump and they could all go eat dirt as I couldnt cope anymore with the stress. By now I hadn't worked in months.

I received a letter of demand from a local lawyer in Australia for an outrageous sum from the 'ex client' who perhaps thought because I was in Australia he would have a go at recovering it from me (in Indonesia, it is very corrupt and difficult to recover anything without resorting to violence). So perhaps I looked like a viable solution to seek recovery from.

After seeking legal advice, I replied to the letter of demand to reject and deny the claim I owe money to the client. I kept receiving calls, emails, text messages until recently I sent a cease and desist letter to demand they stop contacting me unless they can prove I owe such money.

They replied the next day with a notice of legal proceedings threatening that if I did not pay this claimed amount in 10 days, a court summons was being prepared... I am in utter disbelief..and thinking to myself, has this ex-client lost his marbles? How does he plan to prove that I owe him money? Has the ex boss intentionally persuaded/manipulated him into this to shift the heat and blame away from his company?

Here are some important facts to consider about the situation -

* I was working (illegally without a permit) for a franchise property agent in Indonesia - illegally as the boss had not organized a valid work permit as promised.

* The money owed to me by the company I have mentally written-off.. its not worth it to me and I have no chance of getting it anyway. Also its a small amount in the scheme of things.\

* I also had no employment agreement between myself and the franchise (I would assume this had to do with the boss not arranging a work permit and would save him from trouble and put only myself in trouble should I come in contact with immigration)

* I had no property management agreement with the client or his property, there was also no property management agreement between the client and the franchise. There was no formal agreement between anyone to manage this property. He may even not own this property.. who knows.. Indonesia is the wild west! and I will not be going back there!

* All of this took place in Indonesia all with no contracts between any parties

* I am an Australian citizen, the franchise is Indonesian owned and the client is a US citizen living in Indonesia


1) Even if I was guilty, how does an overseas debt dispute even get to an Australia Court? How does that work? Under what Jurisdiction? Because I'm an Aussie? Because I'm physically now in Aus?

2) Example - I was born in NZ and hold dual citizenship. If I went to NZ, then what? It becomes a NZ court matter? How does it even get determined and by whom?

3) Should this not be a matter to be dealt with in the country/jurisdiction it originated in?

4) How can this guy even sue me if there was no contract agreement between myself and him?

5) Can I declare bankruptcy and be done with it? I am in no mental state to deal with this and my credit rating means nothing to me compared to my health.

6) Is it likely the client and debt collector are blatantly attempting to see if I will act on fear and stupidly pay the debt with money I never had and dont have and probably never will have...?

None of this makes any sense at all... I really find it difficult to understand how I am being sued for such matter and how am I expected to defend myself on a Disability Support Pension battling with bi-polar and medication trials?

Sorry this is long but really what does one do in such a situation?


Well-Known Member
31 October 2015
Hi David,

I believe debts can be bought by debt collectors and then they pursue it. But it sounds like a bad debt to buy and a dodgy one at that. The legal proceedings as you have seen can be initiated by engaging an Australian Lawyer to submit the application to the court and so on. It could be a big scare tactic but they have engaged quite elaborate means to scare you.

If you cant afford a lawyer you might want to try legal aid Legal Aid Queensland - Legal Aid Queensland but you will need to qualify for their support. And while I don't recommend it moving back to New Zealand would likely delay and could potentially prevent further pursuit. Depending on how much money this person in Indonesia has they would have to fund the lawyers pursuing you.