Category: Granting of emolument attachment orders

Granting of emolument attachment orders

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) welcomes the judgment handed down yesterday by the Western Cape High Court in a matter relating to the lack of judicial oversight in the granting of emolument attachment orders (“EAOs”). The SAHRC intervened in the matter as amicus curiae, to champion the human rights of people who are poor and vulnerable. In handing down his judgment, Judge Desai placed on record the court’s ‘indebtedness to the amicus curiae and their counsel.’
This case raised important questions about the protection of human rights of people who are poor, marginalised and vulnerable. The case was instituted by against the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the National Credit Regulator, 13 micro-lenders and a firm of attorneys.   The applicants were a group of low income earners living in Stellenbosch, who support themselves and their families on salaries of between R1200.00 and R8000.00 per month. They were represented by the University of Stellenbosch Law Clinic.

Prior to this judgement, EAOs were issued in the magistrate courts to compel employers to deduct moneys (instalments in terms of judgment debt) owing to creditors, from the wages of employees. This continued until the full amount of the debt was paid off. Such orders, were issued by a clerk of court. The clerk was not obliged to evaluate the implications of the order on the livelihood of the debtor. This meant that there was no judicial oversight in the entire process. The orders could also be issued in courts where the debtor did not live or work.

www.sahrc.org.za/home/index.php?ipkArticleID=339

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