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December 2018 Issue 16
 
 
What did the judge say?

Judgment may lead to your belongings being sold on auction for outstanding debts

St Charles College v Du Hecquet De Rauville and Others

Facts of the case:

  • St. Charles College (“School”) obtained summary judgment against parents, Henry and Gleryl Du Hecquet De Rauville (“debtors”) for the amount of R627 110.09. This amount was for outstanding school fees.
  • The School's attorneys obtained a warrant of execution and the Sheriff of the court attached movable goods to the sum of R6 200.00.
  • Due to this amount not being enough to settle the outstanding school fees, the School brought an application to the High Court (“court”) to apply for attachment of the debtors' house to be sold on auction.
  • The debtors argued that they would be prejudiced if their house was sold as they would then have to spend more money renting, as well as that the house would not be sold for the best possible price.
  • The debtors also argued that the house is their family home and carries sentimental value and that it is unfair discrimination (unconstitutional) to allow the attachment and sale of a house of a private school parent, but not that of a public school parent.
Did you know:The right to equality is not unqualified and may lead to different judgments that can be obtained for different categories of people.

What the Court said:

  • Before a person's house can be attached and sold to cover an outstanding debt after a judgment has been obtained, the court must consider various factors, such as the outstanding amount owed, whether less drastic means are available to ensure payment of the outstanding amount, the financial position of the parties and so on.
  • The court held that the parents of a private school learner make the choice to send their children to a private school, rather than a public school. This choice is usually made even though the parents know that private schools are more expensive than public schools.
  • Parents who send their children to private school are in control over their finances and are in an economic position to do so.
  • This means that based on the parents' financial position, they should be able to foresee whether they would be able to afford the private school fees or not. 
  • The court held that there is no unfair discrimination between private school parents and public school parents. Private school parents could not be placed on the same footing as a parent who knew they could not afford the private school fees and who decided to sent their children to a public school.
  • The court finally held that the School may attach the debtor's house and sell it to pay for the outstanding school fees.

Conclusion:

  • Parents should consider their financial position carefully before sending their children to private schools.
  • If they fail to pay the school fees, the private school can get judgment against them for the outstanding school fees and may even attach and sell their house to cover same.

How can LegalWise assist you? Should you require an explanation of your rights on this topic, please contact your nearest Branch.



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