Brief overview of current position of Debt Review in SA
A consumer is placed under debt review when their financial position is severely constraint, to such an extent that they fail to meet their monthly obligations. The process of debt review is voluntary and can be justified through the assistance of a duly registered debt counsellor. Your debt is carefully rearranged by your debt counsellor and creditors to enable you to meet your monthly financial obligations.
Your readiness to be placed under debt review are determined by your financial status, which at the time, should indicate that you are indeed over-indebted (expenses exceeds income) and be to the satisfaction of your debt counsellor.
Your debt counsellor must advice all creditors involved of your intention to be placed under debt review. Should one or more of them oppose your application, your debt counsellor should re-negotiate the terms of payment to their satisfaction accordingly. The benefits of debt review are that you can repay your debts with little or no interest at all, and your monthly affordability increases timeously.
If you are over-indebted and wish to be placed under debt review, it is advisable that you first conduct proper research about the process to weigh the pros and cons of same. The onus rests on you as the consumer to ensure that the debt counsellor and their business are duly registered. You may request a copy of their latest debt counsellor certificate, which are issued annually by the National Credit Regulator. Should they not be in possession of same, you should consider the services of an alternative debt counsellor.
Furthermore, when placed under debt review, your position changes, and your chances of getting fresh credit are non-existent. You will only be granted same once you are no longer under debt review.
So what if, after being placed under debt review for quite some time, you feel that your financial position has improved and you wish to exit the debt review process; what is your position?
Recently, the Gauteng High Court held that no court has jurisdiction to declare you “no-longer over-indebted”. To put it into perspective, you cannot apply to any court to relief you from debt review.
The only remedy to your avail is your debt counsellor. Once again, the importance of a legit and duly registered debt counsellor is stressed.
In terms of The National Credit Act (Section 71), if your debt counsellor is satisfied that your financial performance improved to such an extent that you managed to settle a few or all your debts, they may issue a clearance certificate to you.
The clearance certificate must be provided to various Credit Bureaus, which will confirm your status as no-longer over-indebted, and the successful completion of the debt review process.
The refusal of the DC to issue the clearance certificate must be accompanied by valid reasons. Should you as the consumer have reason to believe that the refusal of the DC is unreasonable, you may approach the Credit Tribunal to investigate your findings.
I am over-indebted – what now?
Contact us for assistance – we are qualified and ready to assist you with any debt review / debt counselling queries and assistance.
–article written by legal candidate practitioner – Gerhardt Smith-Contact us