The Digital Age – Contracting and Debt Collection

The concept that digital contracts are negotiated and concluded over multiple platforms across the globe has moved from a futuristic idea to reality. The use of Conference calling, Skype, email, fax, Dropbox, Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS and printable webpages and other telecommunication platforms are used to interface and conclude digital contacts in the 21st Century, but is the law keeping up with modern communications?

The passing of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act No. 25 of 2002 (herein referred to as “the ECT”) bridged the gap between the law and digital communications validating digital contracting[1]. As technology and telecommunication has grown rapidly and is now a part of our everyday lives parties can agree to the use of certain forms of electronic communications, the terms of delivery as well as receipt of such electronic communications[2]. The ECT also applies to contracts that do not specify forms of communication and terms in their respective contracts giving legal effect to new ways of contracting via data messaging and digital signatures[3].

The answer is held in legal procedure, case law and legislations wherein the first step to legal debt recovery is a Letter of Demand. Ensuring that the letter’s contents and delivery is affected correctly is fundamental should the matter proceed to Court and the Letter of Demand entered into evidence[4].

A Letter of Demand’s contents essentially requires it to be in writing, in clear and concise language[1], addressed to the Debtor, sets out the amount owing, the reason why the debt is owed, the date payment is to be made (a minimum of 14 days from receipt of the Letter of Demand), account details the payment is to into and the preferred payment method. Furthermore, the Debtor must be informed of his/her rights, the legal proceedings to follow should payment not be received and that the Letter of Demand shall be for the debtor’s account.

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