Debt Counsellor Fined R10 000 For Sending Forms Late
The National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) has ruled that a Debt Counsellor at one of SA’s biggest Debt Counselling practices did not contravene the National Credit Act (NCA) in all the ways the National Credit Regulator (NCR) said she had.
The ruling followed a 2018 complaint by the NCR relating to the Debt Counsellor’s alleged failure to distribute payments to credit providers and obtain court orders within 60 days. The NCT pointed out that the Act does not require that the court matters be resolved within 60 days.
‘The NCT pointed out that the Act does not require that the court matters be resolved within 60 days’
The NCT also found that the Debt Counsellor did not contravene General Condition 2, which requires that Debt Counsellors not to delegate their duties to unregistered persons. The NCR argued that because there were no notes about the matter other than the official forms (and emails and PDA records) they did not think the Debt Counsellor did her job. The NCT were very specific about what documents the NCA requires are kept on file and ruled in favour of the Debt Counsellor, namely:
(59.1) Applications for debt review.
(59.2) Copies of documents submitted by consumers.
(59.3) Copies of rejection letters (if applicable).
(59.4) Debt restructuring proposals.
(59.5) Copies of any order made by the Tribunal or the Court; and
(59.6) Copies of clearance certificates.
They ruled that an absence of notes does not mean the work was not done and that only the above documents need to be recorded.
The NCT found that the Debt Counsellor did not contravene General Conditions 5 and 6, which require Debt Counsellors to act in the best interests of consumers and inform the NCR of changes in employment.
The Debt Counsellor had not changed her work but had asked the NCR to update information about which Debt Counsellor within the Debt Counsellor’s practice was now primarily handling the consumer’s matters. The NCR themselves failed to do so. This led to their confusion about who was doing what.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Debt Counsellor.
In two consumer’s matters, the Debt Counsellor was found to have messed up by failing to submit 2 forms (the Form 17.1 and Form 17.2) to all credit bureaus and credit providers fast enough.
The Debt Counsellor conceded that these were sent late due to administrative errors. This resulted in a R10 000 fine.