Note from the Ombud

All the changes and developments in the industry have resulted in the better part of 2014 being particularly busy and challenging for our office. With only a couple of months left in the year, we are very busy wrapping up the remainder of our plans. For my part, it will also be a momentous last few months as it signals the end of my tenure at the helm of this office. Together with my team, we have been hard at work to finish off important projects and round up affairs before the close of 2014.

In the last quarter our call centre dealt with 8 165 calls, bringing the total to 17 188 calls received year to date. This is an increase of 37% when compared to the same period last year. We opened 3 705 and closed 3 888 disputes by the end of the third quarter. This translates into an increase of 4.48% in the disputes opened and a decrease of 9% in the disputes closed when compared to the same period last year.

We have had two very important developments in our industry in the past quarter. Firstly, the National Credit Amendment Act was published on 19 May 2014 and secondly, the much anticipated publishing of the Draft National Credit Regulations on 1 August 2014 for public comment. We submitted comments on the Regulations to the Department of Trade and Industry and in our next edition we will provide more details on our submission.

The National Credit Amendment Act was signed by the President and we await the promulgation date. The amendments which are relevant to the work we do include the new section on prescribed debts, as well as the automatic removal of adverse consumer credit information once a debt has been paid up. The new requirement for all alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agents to apply for registration with the NCR is another important change which affects our office. We currently await the requirements for registration and once this has been determined, we will be in a better position to understand how this new process will impact our office. Another important amendment is that to section 134, which clarifies the role of an ADR agent, such as our office, in assisting consumers with complaints relating to reckless credit.

I would like to wish you a good and productive final quarter as we gear up towards year end. May you use the remaining 90 or so days of 2014 to achieve all you had set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year!

Best wishes,
Manie van Schalkwyk