Consumer Law > Problems in Consumer Law > 11. Repossession of Goods Without a Court Order
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11. Repossession of Goods Without a Court Order

Mrs Arendse says that two men arrived at her house on the weekend and took her lounge suite away. They said her husband had not paid for the lounge suite and they had come to collect it. They said she should pay the full outstanding amount on Monday if she still wants the furniture. Mrs Arendse says she thought that the lounge suite was paid for by her husband.

What does the Law Say?

A shop can only repossess goods in a lawful way, that is:

  • If the customer consents to the goods being repossessed
  • If the shop has a court order to repossess the goods

This is what the shop should have done:

  • Sent Mr Arendse (who signed the credit agreement) a written notice / letter of demand (section 129) to pay the outstanding instalment
  • Applied to the courts to have a summons issued against Mr Arendse
  • Applied to the court for a court order to repossess goods

Once the shop has the court order, only the Sheriff of the Court can go to the house to repossess the goods. They must show this court order before they can enter the house and repossess the goods. Therefore the shop did not repossess the Arendse’s lounge suite in a lawful way.

What Can They Do?

The shop used unlawful ways to repossess the goods. They did not get a court order to repossess the goods and the people who entered the Arendse’s house did not have a right to do this. (See: Steps in a civil claim)

So Mrs Arendse can go to the Magistrate’s Court to get a spoliation order to have the goods returned to her immediately. She will need to get a attorney to advise and help her. (See: Spoliation orders)

But the Arendses must immediately pay the outstanding instalments, or negotiate with the shop or contact a debt counsellor about paying the instalments. Otherwise the shop can follow the steps above to get a court order to repossess the goods.

(See: Problem 10: Repossession of goods with a valid court order)