Book Review: Guide to the National Credit Act
One of the first comprehensive legal publications on the National Credit Act has been published by Lexis Nexis under the title Guide to the National Credit Act by JW Scholtz, JM Otto, E van Zyl, CM van Heerden and N Campbell (ISN 978 0409033717).
The book is divided into 5 sections: the Commentary, the Act itself, the Regulations and Guidelines, the Table and the Index. The most important section is the Commentary which deals with an analysis of the Act.
The book covers all details of the Act and one must sympathise with the authors in the challenge of covering this vast new piece of legislation which deals with such new legal concepts, is so poorly drafted and for which there is currently a paucity of juridical interpretation. But one can not help feeling that there is no real depth of legal analysis, no real interpretation of the Act and most importantly no in-depth opinion on the Act – perhaps that is why the book has the word “Guide” in its title.
The book is the typical loose-leaf legal publication that will no doubt have regular updates which will probably improve the depth of interpretation as the courts grapple with interpreting the Act, as the authors seem well suited to be compilers of law as opposed to interpreters of the law.
Take for example the most practical section of the Commentary, Chapter 14, entitled “A practical discussion of the debt-counseling process”. This section, while touching in a limited manner on some of the problems being faced with debt counseling and reviews, fails to deal with the jurisdictional issues being raised about whether or not a magistrates’ court in fact has jurisdiction (although this issue is mentioned in Chapter 12). It further fails to mention the fact that the Act does not properly deal with the remuneration of the debt counselors and the problems surrounding the applications for debt counselling, nor does it deal with the administration, collection and distribution of funds from debtors under debt review. Reference is made to the pending application by the National Credit Regulator for a declarator on the various problem issues surrounding debt relief and counseling, but there are no in-depth details of these issues and certainly no detailed legal academic opinion on these issues
What is really needed at this time is a strong and in-depth critique of this Act which has many short comings in its drafting, construction and ambiguity. This is needed to guide practitioners, help companies and consumers and to motivate further for the urgently required redress by the legislature to remove the legal and commercial uncertainty which is being created by the Act, and which, it is submitted, can not fully be solved by judicial interpretation.