Courts Begin To Refuse Debt Review Matters Due to NCR Certificate Backlog
Debt Counsellors Desperate for Up to Date NCR Certificates
Courts across the country have begun to refuse to heard debt review matters where the NCR has not yet supplied up to date certification.
A few years ago the National Credit Regulator (NCR) decided it would be a good idea to issue annual certificates to all registrants (and charge them several hundred rand for these) in order to better regulate who was currently actually working in the industry. At the time it enabled the NCR to then cut the number of Debt Counsellor they had to monitor by a few hundred since many who were registered but not practising did not want to pay the annual fees. What this, unfortunately, means is that they have to issue nearly 10 000 up to date certificates each year to registrants across the industry (including thousands of Debt Counsellors).
Annual Certificates at Court
Debt Counsellors, in particular, use these certificates in their application to court on behalf of consumers who need help. The courts have been trained to check the valid dates on certificates by the NCR in their past engagements with the various Magistrates.
‘Debt Counsellors… use these certificates in their application to court on behalf of consumers who need help’
With the pandemic and subsequent lockdown the NCR’s offices were closed for a couple of months and the time period for issuing invoices (once again thousands of invoices) and then issuing thousands of certificates (for those who pay). It was to be expected that there would be a workload backlog when the offices opened up again.
Last month saw a scramble of Debt Counsellors begging the NCR for invoices and the NCR rushing to get those done in time. The invoices were eventually distributed and now Debt Counsellors across the country are anxiously waiting on their updated certificates to use at court. Their current ones expired at the end of July.
‘meanwhile, matters are being delayed’
In the meanwhile, matters are being delayed as courts are not willing to rule on many cases where this piece of paper is not the current period. This is leading to delays in the matters getting legally resolved. it also presents the dilemma of can a Debt Counsellor perform their duties currently without such current certification (legally speaking)? Almost all will naturally continue to work and service their existing clients and render assistance to new clients desperate for help but there is a technical issue here.
‘can a Debt Counsellor perform their duties currently without such current certification (legally speaking)?’
As yet the NCR has not issued a circular or document for Debt Counsellors to use at court to explain the delay and it is hoped that everyone will receive their certificates before too many cases are negatively affected or needlessly delayed.