Attachment is generally regarded as an extreme remedy—one not to be resorted to without first secur ing competent legal advice. Sometimes instead of actually seizing the property it may be better to obtain an injunction forbidding the debtor to dispose of it. If this method is adopted and the plaintiff subse quently fails to get a judgment, the damages he would have to pay the defendant would not be so heavy as if he had seized the defendant's property and then failed to win the case.
23. Imprisonment for debt.—Altho imprisonment as a punishment for debt is today seldom resorted to, the debtor may, in some cases involving moral turpi tude, be imprisoned if his judgment debt is not paid. Generally the summons or pleadings must contain some notice that the plaintiff intends to have the debtor imprisoned if the latter lo,ses the case and still refuses to pay what he owes. This provision gives the debtor opportunity to defend an action which other wise he might permit to go by default. Such pro cedure is generally allowed when the debtor has been guilty of fraud in incurring the liability, or has fraudulently disposed of his property. Since this remedy, like garnishment, is statutory, the method of using it and the extent to which it may be used varies in different states and provinces.
24. The criminal law as a remedy.—It is a general principle of law that creditors may not use the erim inal courts as collection agencies. And this, notwith standing the fact that there have been many instances in which a fraudulent debtor has been as much a menace to society as a common thief. Indeed the individual can protect himself against the thief by means of lock and key, but the fraudulent debtbr is a worse cheat. The law is in the latter case the sole de
fense. Recognizing these facts, state legislatures have recently enacted laws making it a crime for any person to obtain credit by means of a false financial statement. In Canada, under the Criminal Code, a Dominion Statute, it is a crime to induce a person, by a false pretense or representation made with fraudulent intent, to act upon such representation, as, for in stance, to part with goods. While the punishment of the delinquent may in no wise help the defrauded creditor, the demands made by society upon the credit man should be sufficiently strong to urge him to aid in carrying out the provisions of the criminal law.
25. Shall we go to law?—An eminent English lawyer, Mr. Maryatt, King's counsel, once expressed the following opinion in regard to lawsuits: If any man were to claim the coat upon my back, and threaten my refusal with a law suit, he should certainly have it; lest in defending my coat, I should find that I was deprived of my waistcoat also.
Bouvier, the eminent legal lexicographer, defines a good lawyer as one who, among other things, "is dis posed to avoid litigation." Certainly litigation is fre quently fruitless and is always expensive. A good credit man will seek to avoid being caught in bank ruptcies and will as far as possible keep his concern from the need for litigation by guarding well against improper credit extensions. But if it appears neces sary to resort to the courts, he will first ask, "If I do get a judgment can I collect it?" Then he will re member that to get his judgment and to collect it he will need "a good cause, a good purse, a.good counsel, a good judge, a good jury and good luck."