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n Journal for Contemporary History - Die wanresepsie in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg van die gemeenregtelike beneficia vir onvermoënde debiteure
In addition to cessio bonorum (the forerunner of voluntary surrender) and seureté du corps (safe-conduct or vreygeley suspending arrest or detention, DG Van der Keessel, one of the great and last Roman-Dutch authorities, identified three beneficia available to impecunious debtors in the ius commune in the eighteenth century : rescripta inductionis, rescripta moratoria and surchéance van betaalinge.
Rescripta inductionis provided an effective procedure whereby creditors of an impecunious debtor could be induced to agree to a moratorium. Rescripta moratoria and surchéance van betaalinge in essence involved the declaration of a moratorium on a petition showing that a postponement of obligations was equitable in the circumstances and necessary to restore the liquidity of a debtor.
In this contribution the various beneficia and the important and valuable role they could have played in South African law are analysed. The three South African decisions at the turn of the nineteenth century, all by judge Kotzé, resulting in the unnecessary abrogation of the beneficia, are evaluated and criticised as contextually incorrect and historically unsensitive. It is emphasised that South African courts have continued to rely on principles and concepts underlying these common law beneficia in the interpretation of modern moratory legislation.
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