E-Tolls – What to do if you receive a summons
Currently, in terms of the provisions of the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act 7 of 1998 (“the Act”), every owner of a vehicle (an owner being deemed in terms of the Act to be any person who drove, operated or used a vehicle when passing through an e - toll gantry) who passes under a gantry is obliged to pay the applicable e – toll.
It is upon this basis that SANRAL have caused several summonses to be issued against those who are not paying their e-tolls for the recovery of the amounts allegedly owing to SANRAL. Notwithstanding the aforesaid, however, there have also been recent media statements in which it has been reported that SANRAL will no longer be issuing any summonses in these matters.
Accordingly, there is currently no real certainty as to whether or not SANRAL will be proceeding with the issuing of summonses against those who have not paid their e-tolls but in the event that you do receive a summons, are you aware of the steps you need to take next?
So what do you do if you receive a summons and what does it mean?
If you receive a summons from SANRAL, we DO NOT (and we cannot stress this enough) suggest that you simply ignore the summons but rather suggest that you act immediately by either consulting with an attorney to assist you in the matter or; if you wish to defend the matter, by delivering a notice of intention to defend the action yourself.
In this regard, if you receive a summons from SANRAL and you wish to defend the matter, you have a period of 10 business days to deliver a notice of your intention to defend the action. Once the notice of intention to defend has been delivered (that meaning the said notice has been served on SANRAL’s attorneys and filed at Court), SANRAL will not be able to apply for default judgment against you and SANRAL will need to take further steps in the litigation to obtain judgment against you, such as proceeding to trial.
If you simply ignore the summons, however, SANRAL is entitled to apply for a default judgment against you (without any further notice to you) and if SANRAL is successful with the application for default judgment, a judgment will have been granted against you and that judgment will enable SANRAL to have a Warrant issued against you for the payment of the judgment debt. In this regard, should you not be in a position to pay the judgment debt, the Sheriff will then be able to attach and sell your moveable assets on auction in an attempt to settle the judgment debt.
Listing of default judgments with the credit bureaus
Ordinarily, a default judgment which has been granted against a consumer would be listed against the consumer with the credit bureaus and this would adversely affect the consumer’s credit rating. In these e - toll matters, however, the Credit Bureau Association has recently released a media update advising consumers that information relating to e – tolls and SANRAL will not be held or listed by the credit bureaus. In effect, this means that should a default judgment relating to e - tolls be obtained against a consumer, that default judgment will not be listed with the credit bureaus and the consumer’s credit profile should not be affected.
A warning to be cautious
If you are not paying your e – tolls, we advise you to be cautious as the summons can be served on you personally or at your residence or place of employment on anyone who is above the age of 16 years. In regard to a Company, the summons may be served at the Company’s principal place of business or registered address. There is therefore a potential risk that the summons could be served on you and a default judgment taken against you without you having been aware that a summons was served.
If a default judgment has been taken against you or your Company without you having been aware of the summons, we suggest that you immediately contact us for assistance as there may be grounds for a rescission of the judgment.
For more information regarding e – tolls and defending any actions brought against you by SANRAL, you can contact the writer at SLKB Inc via telephone on 011 482 1431 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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