Civil litigation is distinguished from criminal law in that the action or motion is brought by a plaintiff other than the state. Civil litigation procedures include pre-trial hearings, representations in court, as well as costs and the enforcement of any judgement.
Civil litigation can occur in Magistrate's courts as well as the High Court, dependent on the amount at stake, and generally involves claims for such things as the enforcement of commercial contracts and debt collection.
It may be necessary to institute legal action in court to recover debt. This should be seen as the action of last resort.
A debt collector should always try to negotiate an acceptable arrangement with the debtor as to when the overdue amount will be paid.
However, if the debtor does not honour the arrangement, in some instances the creditor shall may then need to employ more drastic actions to recover any overdue amounts and hand over the matter to a debt collection attorney.
The National Credit Act provides that a creditor may begin with legal proceedings as early as twenty days of the debtor being in arrears. However, this may only be done using the correct procedures.
Section 129 of the Act places an obligation on a creditor to notify the debtor of the intention to hand over for the commencement of legal proceedings before doing so.
At the same time, the creditor must advise the debtor of the right to employ a debt counsellor.
Should the debtor, after ten days, not have applied for a debt review with a debt counsellor, the creditor may then proceed with further legal action.
In a case where the consumer has applied for a debt review no legal action may be taken until it has been found by a court or a debt counsellor that the person is not over-indebted.
Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated are attorneys specializing in property law, civil litigation and debt collection. Contact us for professional and efficient civil litigation and debt collection.
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