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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE
25 March 1998
DEBT COLLECTORS BILL, CRIMINAL MATTERS AMENDMENT BILL, ATTORNEYS AMENDMENT BILL AND SHERIFFS AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING
The committee was briefed by Mr de Lange, law advisor to the Committee, on the Debt Collectors Bill [B102 – 97]. The Bill refers to the establishment of legal and lawful debt collecting agencies.
After the briefing, Mr Hofmeyr (ANC) asked how the Bill would be implemented. He was informed that Section 8 of the Bill would be the clause on implementation. Ms Jana (ANC) wanted more information about the possibility of theft. Mr de Lange, stated that the purpose of the Bill was to avoid that possibility.
Mr Mzizi (IFP) asked how many debt collecting agencies were presently in existence. Ms Camerer (NP) mentioned there were about 20 000 people in the debt collecting business, getting the figure from the submission made by the Association of Debt Recovery Agents.
Ms Camerer suggested that the Bill make provision for representative bodies as well as the addition of the disqualification for an insolvent person who was unrehabilitated.
Regarding clauses 10 (b) and 15 (2), Mr Landers (ANC) wanted to know when a company was a debt collecting company, did all the members of that company have to register as debt collectors. Mr de Lange replied that every person who played an active role in debt collecting was compelled to apply for a valid debt certificate. No company would be able to function or exist if those employees did not have the certificate. The purpose of Clause 8 (4) was to avoid fraudulent debt collecting.
Mr de Lange added that a problem did exist with current debt collectors. The Bill could not act retrospectively and inform 20 000 people that they should apply for a certificate.
Ms Botha (ANC) asked how the debtors would be protected as Clause 18 (2) only referred to the Council investigating improper debt collecting procedure. The Bill did not provide protection for the debtors. Mr de Lange noted the problem, but stressed that if a debt collector did not have a valid certificate, he/ she could not collect debt.
Mr Mzizi wanted to know how the function of debt collecting agencies differed from the Office of the Sheriff. According to Mr de Lange, the Sheriffs dealt with matters that emanate from court proceedings and debt collectors dealt with the situation before it reached any court of law. He added that public awareness played a major role in that regard.
The Chairperson, Ms Ngwane (ANC), postponed the briefing on the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill [B 93 – 97] as Ms Lebeko, a member of the Justice Department, needed to investigate some issues further.
A briefing was given on the Attorneys Amendment Bill [7 – 98] and the Sheriffs Amendment Bill [B2 – 98], with discussion following.
These minutes are an incomplete record of the meeting.