Supreme court judge to district court

LIN, the Icelandic student loans fund, has summoned Supreme Court of Iceland judge Vidar Mar Matthiasson to the Reykjavik District Court in a case over responsibility for a student loan he vouched for in 1985. The case came before the court this morning.

It is unusual for a supreme court judge to find him or herself in a district court — and even more unusual when he or she is the defendant.

The case centres on the interpretation of student loan laws as they were in 1985, when Matthiasson signed up as guarantor on the loan. At that time students needed two guarantors behind them to be approved for a loan and according to the laws that were then in force, the maximum repayment time for student loans was 20 years, after which time the outstanding balance would be written off.

Matthiasson contests that his responsibility for the loan expired in 2005 — but the board of LIN disagree; partly because the debtor (the former student who took the loan in 1985) had been granted a payment holiday on the debt, during which time he/she did not need to pay anything.

The payment break contract was signed by the former student, but not by the two guarantors. Matthiasson therefore decided to query the matter and claimed that his responsibility for the loan should be dropped. LIN rejected the request and decided to take the case to court to provide a solid legal precedent for any similar cases which come up in the future.