Initiating a Complaint to the National Credit Regulator
Any person may submit a complaint to the National Credit Regulator concerning an alleged contravention of the National Credit Act. The NCR may also initiate a complaint in its own name.
Initiating a Complaint to the National Consumer Tribunal
1. Where the applicant is the NCR
The NCR may apply to the National Consumer Tribunal for an order resolving a dispute concerning confidential information held by a credit bureau;
For an order compelling a credit provider to deliver a statement of account or compelling a credit provider to review a statement of account;
To review the conduct of a sale of goods where the goods were sold by the credit provider and it is believed that the best price reasonably obtainable was not obtained for the goods or to review the distribution of proceeds from such a sale;
For leave to bring a complaint directly before the NCT;
For an order condoning late filing
2. Where the applicant is a registrant or applicant for registration
A registrant, or applicant for registration, who is unhappy with a decision of the NCR may apply to the NCT to review that decision. This application must be made within 20 business days after the NCR makes the decision that is the subject of the application; or such longer time as the NCT may allow on good cause shown. The NCT may then make an order confirming or setting aside the NCR’s decision in whole or in part.
3. Where the applicant is a consumer or credit provider
In respect of a dispute involving a consumer and a credit provider, the consumer or the credit provider can only apply to refer the matter to the NCT if the following has occurred:
- The parties to the dispute have attempted to resolve the dispute directly between themselves and
- If they were unable to resolve the matter, then the matter was referred to the ombud with jurisdiction, for resolution in terms of the NCA or if the credit provider is a financial institution, then in terms of the Financial Services Ombud Schemes Act or
- After failing to resolve the matter directly between themselves, the matter was referred to a consumer court or to an alternative dispute resolution agent for resolution by conciliation, mediation or arbitration. If the matter has been referred to an alternative dispute resolution agent, then such an agent must first issue a certificate stating that the process has failed before the matter can be referred to the NCT. Any party to the dispute may then file an application within 20 business days after the failure of the attempted alternative dispute resolution; or such longer time as the NCT may allow on good cause shown.
There is one instance when you may directly refer a matter or dispute to the NCT. This is where the complaint is of a nature that if not immediately remedied you will suffer serious, irreparable damage, or the purposes of the NCA will be frustrated. The NCT will then consider the matter and provide for interim relief. An interim order pending the conclusion of a hearing into the complaint may then be issued. An interim order is effective for a maximum period of six months, calculated from the date of issue of such an order. If the hearing into the complaint extends beyond this period, the NCT may extend the order upon good cause being shown.
4. Where the complaint relates to reckless credit or over-indebtedness
If the complaint relates to the granting of reckless credit, or if you are over-indebted, you may approach a debt counsellor for assistance. The debt counsellor will then make an enquiry into your financial affairs and make any appropriate recommendation. The recommendation is then referred to the magistrate court, for example if the debt counsellor believes that you are over-indebted, the debt counsellor may make a recommendation that all or any of your credit agreements be rearranged. The magistrate will then review this recommendation and may reject the recommendation or make an order declaring any credit agreement reckless or an order re-arranging the consumer’s obligations in terms of any credit agreement.
If a debt counsellor rejects your application for debt review, i.e. the debt counsellor finds that you are not over-indebted, you may, with the leave of the Magistrate’s Court, apply directly to the Magistrate’s Court for an order that any of your credit agreements be declared reckless or for an order re-arranging your obligations in terms of any credit agreement to which you are a party.
5. Where the complaint relates to banking services or products
If your complaint relates to banking services and products, you may refer the complaint to the Ombudsman for Banking Services. The Ombudsman for Banking Services is Advocate Clive Pillay. The Ombudsman cannot assist with a banks decision regarding fees or the granting of credit unless maladministration is the basis of your complaint. The complaint must be within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Before you can approach the Ombudsman for Banking Services, you must have followed the bank’s complaint handling process. The Ombudsman will then investigate your complaint and mediate between yourself and the bank. If mediation is unsuccessful, the Ombudsman will make a recommendation regarding the settlement of the complaint.