Chapter 28 - Charterparty
Next to the building of Doguk was an annex with the offices of the firm’s incorporated association. Yoonshin was currently sitting in the said annex, in the corporate social responsibility team’s office.
The incorporated association was approved and founded 10 years ago, and after being granted permission from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, it operated as an organization performing volunteer work and charitable donations. It consistently encouraged the philanthropic activities of the firm’s lawyers. Doguk’s representative attorney sat as the chairman of the board of directors, and the board of directors was composed of several partner lawyers of Doguk, including Attorney Song and Sehun.
Thus far, Sehun only donated a fixed amount of money yearly, yet he never did volunteer activities. Despite working at the firm for years, it was almost as if he had never set foot in the annex building even once.
The partner didn’t make an effort to invest his time into these matters, so his assigned time was being filled by Yoonshin instead. This was the first task that Sehun personally ordered, so to speak.
‘He gave me a job that fits me, but why do I feel like I’m just being used?’ Yoonshin exhaled steadily and recalled the other’s fair face before shaking his head. Then, he handed documents to the middle-aged woman sitting across from him.
One day every month, the organization ran a free legal clinic offering consultation and services to the elderly, low-income citizens, women with discontinued careers, and others who fit the legal definition of the socially disadvantaged class. The clinic booked phone and internet appointments in advance, then proceeded with face-to-face interviews. Yoonshin met the woman’s eyes and continued his helpful explanation. “Ma’am. So… The domicile—I mean, people who leave where they used to live and aren’t likely to return for a long time are called absentees.”
The inquiry was simple enough. The woman scraped up all her assets and loaned them to an acquaintance that she thought she knew quite well so he could use it as his business funds. She lost touch with the debtor for a long time, and the debtor went missing. She was asking if there was any way that she could get her money back as it was now. Thankfully, in this case, the debtor owned a piece of commercial property in an apartment building.
Yoonshin opened a window with an explanation of the relevant law on his computer screen.
“If you look here, Article 22 of the Civil Act defines managing the property of an absentee. This allows personal property to be managed temporarily until the absentee returns or until their living status is confirmed. Simply put, this isn’t limited to family members. Creditors can also become the administrator.”
“Then, if I become the administrator, can I get back the amount that I lent? That old man has a shop in the storefront of the apartment. It’s a one-story building. He owns it. I didn’t think he would run away leaving that behind, so I lent my money to him… I never imagined not hearing any news of him…”
“That’s right. But that doesn’t mean you can dispose of the property as his administrator, but you can manage it. You can make an application to the court and request to be appointed as the property administrator. Then you can lease out the building to another tenant and receive the monthly rent.”
Seemingly having found the key to reclaiming her money, the middle-aged woman’s face brightened. “Can Doguk do it for me? You could do it for me, young mister.”
Yoonshin looked apologetic and shook his head. “Our firm doesn’t take on cases for individuals. I thought about how I could help and told a lawyer that I know. You can tell him that I told you to go to him. He’ll do a good job helping you.”
“Oh, but it would’ve been nice if Doguk did it for me…”
“Perhaps another time.”
Yoonshin wrote down the address of the law office he worked with before he came to Doguk as well as the contact information of the office manager and handed it to the lady. She still seemed to be slightly disappointed, but she repeatedly bowed to express her gratitude and left the office.
Yoonshin was left feeling sorry for being unable to help further yet fulfilled about assisting to some degree—the contrasting emotions clashed, and he looked over the next client’s documents again. He read it once before he came, but he reviewed the details of the case.
“Living separated… And the man is unemployed long term,” he muttered to himself.
Yoonshin opened the legislation he had searched up beforehand and picked up the intercom. He let the secretary know that the next client could come in.
A few seconds later, there was a rap at the door and a man around 30 came in and sat in front of Yoonshin. He greeted the other warmly and got straight to the point like a person of action. “I read through your questionnaire. Your wife agreed to live separated for a certain period, but she still hasn’t returned home. How long was your separation?”
“It’s been about eight months. Originally, we agreed to try living apart for around four months.”
“Hmm, the original period doubled. By any chance, did you leave anything about the agreement in writing?”
The man was pensive for a moment, then answered in a trembling voice. “Nothing of the sort. Oh, but there is an audio recording. There was a lot of conflict at the time about getting a divorce, so I recorded every conversation I had with her just in case. That’s probably on my old phone. Do recordings have legal force?”
“Thankfully, recordings between the related parties can be evidence. What was the reason for your separation?”
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