The law pertaining to debt review in South Africa is very new and as such it still has a way to go before being a flawless legal system. In 2007 The National Credit Act came into effect, and gave South African consumers some much needed ammunition against creditors, especially ruthless and unscrupulous ones.
It also made way for Debt Review, creating the possibility for consumers to seek out counselling and help with their debts. It stipulates that consumers who are no longer able pay their debts promptly are entitled to apply for debt review. Under debt review a counsellor will inform a consumer’s creditors that they are now protected by law until such time as their negotiations with creditors are complete. The counsellor proposes new terms to the creditors, and if the creditors agree – a consumer pays lesser amounts over longer periods of time until all their debts are settled.
The National Credit Act also makes provision for instances where creditors refuse to accept a proposal from a counsellor. In such matters a court is approached and a judge will evaluate the case, and using his discretion, either make the creditors comply with or deny the negotiation. However if a consumer can prove that they are in need of debt review, a judge will rarely turn down an application.
The South African government realised that consumers are battling and were in need of protection, and that is why they took steps to revise the way that creditors and debtors engage with one another.
Article written by: Andrea van Tonder 03-2013