Business Insider Edition

Two courts just ruled that you can be sued via SMS. Here's what it means.

James de Villiers , Business Insider SA
 Jun 01, 2018, 03:08 PM
  • Two judgements handed down at the Randburg magistrate's court found that a registered SMS is a valid form of communications for legal documents.
  • This means ignoring an SMS demanding payment allows the sender to proceed with a summons.
  • But the SMS must be tracked to verify that the recipient actually received it. 

If you ignore a registered SMS demanding payment of a debt, the sender can proceed with a summons, says Salomé le Roux, senior associate at intellectual property law firm Von Seidel

This after two judgements handed down at the Randburg magistrate’s court found that a registered SMS is a valid form of communications if a creditor sends it to individuals with outstanding personal loans, Netwerk24 reported

“If [a registered SMS] is ignored, the sender can obtain a default judgement. A judgement against you will have a negative impact on your credit rating or could even lead to your property being attached by the sheriff.”

Le Roux says a registered SMS has to, however, adhere to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act Section 19(4) which states “registered” electronic communication methods needs to be able to be tracked. 

A normal SMS would not work as it does not provide a delivery receipt or verification that the SMS was delivered. 

A SMS, therefore, has to be sent through a company such as Registered Communication which offers the service.

Le Roux believes registered SMS’es will save the South African legal system time and money. 

“In my opinion, being able to deliver legal processes by SMS or email is actually a much more reliable way of ensuring someone received the message,” Le Roux says. 

“In today’s day and age, people move and travel a lot and are less likely to be reached at a physical or postal address, but people tend to keep email addresses and phone numbers for many years, regardless of where they live.” 

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