Did you know? Fees owing to the SABC in terms of your TV license NEVER prescribe/ become invalid! This is significant as most debts may prescribe after 3, 6, 15 or 30 years.
Similar to the sell by dates found on your milk carton, debts have expiry dates too! This is for legal certainty and to protect debtors against old and inflated debts.
A creditor only has 3 years’ time to institute legal action against a debtor (since the last date of payment/ acknowledgment of debt). After the 3 year period the debtor may raise the special defence of prescription in court.
To avoid the debt’s ‘expiry date’ the creditor needs to:
a) convince the debtor to acknowledge the debt or make a payment towards the debt (this will cause the 3 year period to start running afresh) OR
b) take the matter to court before the ‘expiry date’ to request a judgment against the debtor (as a judgment debt is binding/ lasts for 30 years!).
We often see creditors take advantage of the debtor’s ignorance and demand immediate payment when in actual fact the debtor is able to raise the special defence of prescription in court. Technically only a court can confirm your special defence of prescription, however, most creditors will stop calling/ sending legal letters once you have correctly pointed out prescription. Should the creditors still decide to take you to court, remember to ask for a cost order against them (meaning that they should be held liable for your legal fees should your defence succeed).