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.”

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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. 

See also: Almost half of female legal professionals in South Africa say they have been sexually harassed – and 73% have been bullied

“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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