CREDIT BUREAU ASSOCIATION
COMMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE BILL
Purpose and application of the Bill We support the purpose of the Bill in so far as it imposes a duty on administrators to give effect to those rights contained in S33 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996.
We feel however, that the definition of ‘administrator’ as far as it relates to ‘juristic’ persons – when exercising a public power or performing a public function – is vague and has created uncertainty in our minds as to its meaning and application. We note that ‘public power’ and ‘public function’ has not been defined in the Bill. Furthermore, we do not see the purpose of providing for the courts to decide what its definition should be as, with due respect, this will not change the present position of the common law and therefore defeats the purpose of drafting legislation in this regard.
Our main concern therefore, is whether or not this definition applies to private bodies in the commercial field, such as credit bureau. Depending on the definition of public function, credit bureaux do in a sense perform a public function in that they enable persons or businesses to obtain credit.
South Africa’s economy is largely driven by consumer demand. The vast majority of consumer items other than food are financed through credit. A million South Africans use credit every month to purchase the goods and services they need to improve their living standards and their businesses and this is made possible only because there is a well developed credit information industry. Credit bureaux do no deny people credit, they facilitate credit to those who are credit-worthy by assisting credit grantors to reduce their credit risk.