n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - National Credit Act. And some reflections on the National Credit Amendment Act 2014 (part 1)




The National Credit Act shook South Africa's legal landscape on a level that has never been registered on the Richter scale. Like many countries, consumer credit legislation in this country in the old days was limited to usury acts and money lending acts. Whereas Germany had its first legislation dealing with instalment sales in 1893 and many other countries soon followed suit, South Africa introduced its first legislation in this regard only in 1942. The Usury Act of 1926 was replaced by the Limitation and Disclosure of Finance Charges Act in 1968. This act was comprehensively rewritten in 1980 and later renamed the Usury Act. The Hire-Purchase Act was replaced in 1980 by the Credit Agreements Act. For almost three decades the Usury Act and the Credit Agreements Act regulated the credit industry in South Africa. They were not codifications in the European sense of the word and the parties' agreement and common-law principles applied to the large percentage of contracts that fell outside the ambit of the two pieces of legislation. It became clear soon that the two acts did not deal with consumer protection in the field of credit granting adequately or satisfactorily and needed to be replaced and overhauled. A research team of the South African Law Commission provided the commission with a lengthy report and draft legislation in 1993. Nothing came of these recommendations for reasons that are not relevant now. It took many years before the matter of consumer credit legislation received the attention of the authorities in South Africa again. The result was the National Credit Act. More about that below.


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