Confessions of Judgment aren’t Valid in Tennessee: Here’s Why

All kinds of search terms that lead visitors to this site. I routinely look at them, because it’s a great insight into what creditor rights issues people want to learn about. (And, sometimes, it’s pretty funny.)

A common query is whether confessions of judgments are valid in Tennessee. Frankly, after nearly 15 years of practice in Tennessee, I’ve never dealt with a confession of judgment, so, as a practical matter, I don’t think they are valid in Tennessee. But, recently, I actually came across the answer.

As background, a confession of judgment is a contract provision (or a stand-alone contract) in which one party agrees on the front-end of a transaction to let the other party enter a judgment against him if the deal goes bad.  You agree, in advance and before any default or dispute arises, that the other party can get a judgment, even without a lawsuit pending and despite any legitimate defenses that may ultimately exist.

You can imagine why a creditor would include such a provision in their contracts.

Tennessee doesn’t allow such provisions. Tenn. Code Ann. § 25-2-101(a) says:

Any power of attorney or authority to confess judgment which is given before an action is instituted and before the service of process in such action, is declared void; and any judgment based on such power of attorney or authority is likewise declared void.

But, an agreement to allow a judgment may be allowed after a lawsuit is filed and after the party is served (when, it would be assumed, the party has received due process of the law and the issues are defined).  § 25-2-101(b) says:

This section shall not affect any power of attorney or authority given after an action is instituted and after the service of process in such action.

So, even though Confessions of Judgment are not valid in Tennessee at the time of the contract, such provisions will be enforceable after the filing of the lawsuit, such as in a forbearance or settlement agreement.

One thought on “Confessions of Judgment aren’t Valid in Tennessee: Here’s Why

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