28.1501 Interest rate-Agreements signed and written-Charge for loans.

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(a) Except as provided in this title, no person may charge more than 15 percent per year as interest on a debt or obligation, and no agreement to pay a rate of interest higher than 6 percent per year shall be enforceable unless the same is in writing and is signed by the party to be charged. The rate of interest when there is no written agreement with respect thereto shall be 6 percent per year, and such interest shall be presumed on overdue debts.

(b) Lending institutions are empowered to set, from time to time as the cost of money and the cost of lending operations warrant, a minimum charge for their loans where the normal interest is not equal to the average cost of making a loan. In no event may both a minimum charge and interest be collected.

(c) Banks that are authorized and licensed to conduct the business of banking in American Samoa are empowered to charge, contract for, and receive interest on loans at a rate up to 24% per year, provided that:

(1) The principal amount of the loan is $5,000.00 or less, and

(2) The principal amount of the loan and interest rate are disclosed in written agreement that is signed by the parties to be charged.

History: 1962, PL 7-23; 1963, PL 8-13; 1975. PL 14-16 § 3; 1978, PL 15-76 § 2; amd 1980, PL 16-67 § 1; 1980, PL 16-75 § 1, amd 2004, PL 28-24.

Case Notes:

Territorial statute providing that no debtor can be charged interest in excess of 6% unless the amount “is in writing and is signed by the party to be charged” precluded court from holding debtor liable to pay interest at a higher rate in the absence of a signed agreement, even when debtor knew Bank would charge creditor a higher rate of interest on amounts not timely paid by debtor. A.S.C.A. § 28.1501(a). Meridian Breckwoldt Samoa, Ltd., v. Max Haleck, Inc., 7 A.S.R.2d 95 (1988).

Since in the absence of a written agreement specifying the rate of interest applicable to a promissory note the statutory rate of 6% will apply, where a note specified an interest rate of 12.5% “until maturity” the rate after maturity was 6%. A.S.C.A. § 28.1501. Pritchard v. Amerika Samoa Bank, 8 A.S.R.2d 157 (1988).

In assessing post-judgment interest, the court set the rate at six per cent, the maximum enforceable rate on unwritten contracts. A.S.C.A. § 28.1501(a). Samoa Products, Inc. v. A`asa, 17 A.S.R.2d 66 (1990).

The statutory rate of six percent interest is presumed on overdue debts for which no contractual interest rate is specified. A.S.C.A. § 28.1501(a). Ghiselli Bros., Inc. v. Ryan, Inc., 22 A.S.R.2d 57 (1992).

Amendments: 1978 Subsection (a): raised interest rates. Subsection (b): deleted “normal” from before “interest be collected” at end of subsection.

1980 Subsection (a): raised interest rates.

Subsection (b): amended generally; and added last sentence.