I have a contract with a scholarship agency in a small European country where I agreed that I would return to my country after finishing the studies abroad. A few years ago I got a good job abroad and decided to stay. The consequence is that my contract stipulates that I must now repay the scholarship.

The agency is threatening to sue me to enforce the contract. I have hired a lawyer who believes that the request was made too late and that they have a weak case. Regardless of the lawyer's reassurances, if I allow this situation to progress to the litigation stage, there is a chance that I could loose the case. The alternative is that I agree to repay within a year, which would be difficult to accomplish as it is a large sum to pay within a year. If I am sued and loose the case, is this something that is likely to negatively impact potential background checks in the future if I change my job? I work in financial services industry. I am most likely to seek employment in UK.

  • A useful reference – Dawny33 Nov 30 '15 at 11:39
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    Voting to close as too broad and/or company-specific because the details of a background check can vary enormously and so can a company's reaction to a candidate's involvement in a lawsuit. It might be an issue in a financial position but not for childcare, once again depending on the nature of the lawsuit. The only real (and useless) answer one can give here is "Yes, it could." – Lilienthal Nov 30 '15 at 11:58
  • What I am interested in is to hear from someone in HR or background check who could say whether foreign litigations are something background check companies are likely to look at. – Brunt FCA Nov 30 '15 at 12:01
  • I feel that she's motivated to say no as the size of her paycheck depends on whether I am sued or not... Plus, don't think that she's really qualified to give me a good answer to this question being from a different country and in a different industry. – Brunt FCA Nov 30 '15 at 13:02
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    Are there even background checks in Europe? – kat0r Nov 30 '15 at 16:59

The situation has two impacts on a background check.

  • The first is financial. If you lose the case you will have to pay back the money, and you may have lawyer and court costs to pay.
  • The non-financial issue is also a concern. The fact that you are being sued means that a background check that goes beyond the financial will want to know. The potential employer has to decide if the case shows either an unwillingness to follow the rules, or some other character flaw.

In both situations you need to make sure that any questions on the background forms related to debts and court cases address this situation. It is sometimes unclear what item will trigger a rejection by the potential employer; but in all situations it is better to be upfront instead of having the company discover that you lied on the forms.

The presence of background checks when you have a known issue reinforces the advice that don't quit your current job until you are 100% sure about the safety of the job offer for the new job.

Remember, having a history of breaking contracts is not a good sign for a company about to hire you.

  • I'm not overly concerned about the court costs and the lawyer, that will be a small proportion of the amount I would have to return. My main concern is whether a foreign litigation from a small country is likely to show up on a background check done for a financial services company. I am at the point where I can make an agreement with the agency to repay the amount or to let them sue me. – Brunt FCA Nov 30 '15 at 12:10
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    @BruntFCA take the moral high ground and offer to repay. It's ALWAYS better than being shown as an unreliable business partner. – jwenting Nov 30 '15 at 13:42
  • I've already offered and they allowed me to repay within two years. The thing is, not clear whether I'll be able to afford to repay. It's a large sum of money to give back within a very short period of time. And if I sign their agreement I throw away my chance of arguing that their request came too late (as then the time starts ticking again). – Brunt FCA Nov 30 '15 at 13:59
  • @BruntFCA: My personal opinion here is that the Right thing to do is buckle down and make sure you pay them back. Even if that means you are eating beans and rice for two years. You agreed to do something for a benefit, not doing your part at this point is an ethical problem. – NotMe Nov 30 '15 at 16:56

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