A person appointed by a Magistrate’s Court, in terms of an Administration Order, to collect and distribute payments from the debtor to his/her creditors.


Action Procedure

A civil matter where a letter of demand is sent, summons is delivered by the Sheriff to the Defendant, and pleadings are filed and served (these are documents setting out the parties cases). After a few months once the pleading stage has closed, the trial starts where evidence is given by both parties (the Plaintiff and the Defendant), and a judgment follows in favour or against the Plaintiff.


Administration Order

An order made by a Magistrate’s Court which indicates the amount that the debtor is obliged to pay to the Administrator, which will be distributed to his/her creditors.



A written statement made under oath before a Notary, Commissioner of Oaths, or Authorised Officer, for example the Police or an Attorney.


Ante-Nuptial Contract (ANC)

An agreement that arranges the parties’ estates and financial consequences in respect of their desired civil union or civil marriage.


Application Procedure

The court’s judgment is based on papers placed before it. The parties (the Applicant and/or the Respondent) go to court and the documents are considered without evidence being delivered. It may be opposed or unopposed.


Civil Matter

When a dispute arises between two or more parties, the action procedure or the application procedure ensues.


Civil Union

A partnership between two adults of the same gender. It is similar to a civil marriage in respect of legal formalities.



The term used to explain an unmarried couple living together in a long-term relationship. A cohabitation agreement may be entered into to regulate their relationship.


Constructive Dismissal

When an employee resigns because their employer's behaviour has become so intolerable which made life difficult for the employee at work, and the employee had no choice but to resign.



Two or more people enter into an agreement which has an offer and acceptance, the parties must have an intention to enter into a contract, the parties must have contractual capacity, the rights and duties of the contract must be possible to perform, the purpose of the contract must be lawful, and formalities must be complied with (such as a written contract) where necessary.



A governmental body that resolves disputes involving people and/or property. There are Small Claims Courts, Magistrate’s Courts, High Courts, Regional Courts, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court.


Credit Agreement

An agreement where goods are sold or services are rendered, and payment is delayed over a specific period of time subject to a fee, charge or interest. Examples are credit cards, clothing accounts, loans, and mortgage agreements.


Credit Bureau

An organisation that records a list of consumer credit information and ratings, which include good and bad credit information such as defaults on payment/s.


Criminal Procedure

Arises when there is criminal activity. When a crime is committed, the matter is reported to the Police, investigations are carried out by an Investigating Officer, and the evidence is given to the National Prosecuting Authority who decides to proceed with or reject the case. If the case proceeds then an arrest or a summons is made to the Accused to appear in court.



A person appointed by a High Court to administer a person’s estate as s/he could not manage their affairs due to mental or physical disability, such as a prodigal, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Customary Marriage

A marriage concluded in terms of traditional customs and culture of South Africa’s indigenous people. A customary marriage can be monogamous or polygamous.


Debt Counsellor

A person who assists a consumer, in terms of a credit agreement, who cannot meet his/her monthly payment obligations, by negotiating and restructuring a new payment plan.



A reason the Wrongdoer provides to remove or limit the claim of the Plaintiff / Applicant.


Defendant / Respondent

Parties defending a civil matter. The Defendant is a person in an action procedure and the Respondent is a person in the application procedure.



A person causes damage to another person or their property due to their negligence or intent and unlawful behaviour.


Domestic Violence

A person who is in a domestic relationship (a close relationship such as between spouses or partners, or within families) who was abused, intimidated, harassed, stalked; or whose property was intruded upon or damaged. The Complainant may apply for a protection order against the Offender.


Electrical Compliance Certificate

A certificate provided by an Electrician regarding the property sold, confirming that the electricity is safe and in accordance with the law.


Ex Parte

An application procedure where its outcome is based on the papers submitted by a single party to court, and the judgment is granted in favour or against the party.


Final Protection Order

A court order confirming an interim protection order, prohibiting one person from committing abusive acts against another person. It is issued if the Magistrate has satisfied him/herself that domestic violence exists between the parties.



Unreasonable (abusive, rude, extreme or excessive conduct) behaviour by the Respondent (a Wrongdoer) who causes harm (mental, psychological, physical or financial harm) or makes the Complainant (the Victim, which includes a child) believe that harm may be caused by – following, communicating with, watching, or bothering the Complainant; or sending letters, gifts, faxes, or emails to the Complainant.

Harassment includes sexual harassment which means unwelcome sexual attention, behaviour, suggestions, messages, or remarks of a sexual nature that will offend, intimidate or humiliate the complainant; a promise or reward for sexual deeds; or a sexual threat



A judgment that prohibits someone from committing a certain act, for example, to stop a neighbour from being a nuisance.


Interim Protection Order

A temporary court order prohibiting one person from committing abusive acts against another person. It is issued on the first day when the complainant applies for a protection order.



A person dies without a Will, and the law determines how the deceased’s assets, if any, are distributed.



A court order (outcome) determined by court, which is in favour or against the Plaintiff / Applicant.


Landlord’s Hypothec

A right of the Landlord to attach the Tenant’s movable property that is situated on the leased premises, when the Tenant fails to pay rent.



A body of rules that governs legal relationships between people, and/or property. The Government recognises these rules as binding and enforceable. The law ensures peace and order.


Lease Agreement

A written or verbal agreement between a Lessee / Tenant and a Lessor / Landlord which must be entered into before the property is leased. A Lessee / Tenant must use the property as agreed to, pay for its use, care for it, and return it to the Lessor / Landlord upon termination of the agreement.


Legal Guardian

Both husband and wife are guardians of legitimate children; the mother of an illegitimate child is the guardian unless the father acquires guardianship, for example, by living in a permanent life-partnership with the mother; or the court may appoint a guardian. 

Guardianship includes safeguarding the child’s property or property interests; representing the child in legal matters; and consenting to marriage, adoption, removal from South Africa, or an application for a passport.



A process that parties in a dispute must follow to settle the matter before it goes to court. An objective person (the Mediator) decides on its outcome.


Plaintiff / Applicant

The parties who institute a civil matter (an aggrieved person). The Plaintiff is a person in an action procedure and the Applicant is a person in the application procedure.



An amount of damages or loss suffered by the Defendant.


Reckless Lending

Recklessness arises if:

  • A Credit Provider failed to conduct a credit assessment on the consumer before entering into a credit agreement with a consumer; or
  • An assessment was undertaken but the consumer did not understand the risks, obligations or costs involved; or entering into the agreement made the consumer over-indebted and debt counselling is required.


Religious Marriage

A marriage in terms of a religion such as the Islamic or Hindu faith.



An application to cancel a judgment. The rescission may be opposed or unopposed.



A court official instructed by the court to serve court documents or attach someone’s property. For example, a Defendant who fails to make payment in terms of a judgment may have his/her assets attached to satisfy the debt.


Spoliation Order

An order issued by the court for the immediate return of an item to its owner.



A notice for a person to appear in court at a certain date and time. For example, a witness may be called to testify in court. A “return date” has the same effect as a subpoena.



A legal document to institute civil matters. It notifies a person that a claim has been instituted against him/her, and the summons must be defended or settled.


Suspended Warrant of Arrest

The execution of an arrest is delayed until an Offender fails to comply with a condition, obligation or order granted by the court.



A clause in an agreement that means goods are sold as they are, with defects known or unknown to the buyer. The application of the Consumer Protection Act excludes the use of this clause.


Warrant of Arrest

A document issued by a Magistrate or a Judge of the court, authorising Police Officers to arrest the Accused.


Warrant of Ejectment

A document issued by a Magistrate or a Judge of the court, authorising the Sheriff to remove a Tenant from the Landlord’s property, with his/her belongings.


Warrant of Execution

A document issued by a Clerk or a Registrar of the court, authorising the Sheriff to take possession of property, for example, the Judgment Debtor’s property to satisfy the judgment.