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Court matches digital rights with registered post

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Two judgements in the Randburg Magistrates Court have afforded digital registered communication the same status as conventional registered post in cases that tested provisions in the Magistrates Court Amendment Act 19 of 2010 and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (the ECT Act).

Both judgements related to Section 129 final demands for payment on defaulted personal loans, which were sent to the defaulter’s mobile phone number via Registered SMS. The Registered SMSs were made possible by Registered Communication, South Africa’s leading registered electronic communications provider.

Registered Communication’s digital Registered SMSs and Emails comply with Section 19(4) of the ECT Act, which has specific requirements relating to the legality of electronic registered post. They also comply with Section 12 of the Act, which deems a data message to be ‘in writing’.

The Registered SMSs in question was confirmed by a registration certificate, included proof of content, proof of delivery, and proof of receipt at the location chosen by the addressee, which is deemed sufficient in the serving of legal documentation in terms of Section 129 of the National Credit Act (NCA).

The magistrates overseeing the cases accepted that the digital letters of demand complied with all requirements outlined in the NCA, confirming that they provided an efficient alternative for any person or business seeking a quick, efficient, cost-effective way of delivering registered messages.

“Sending registered communication digitally saves the sender time and money, as the cost of a Registered SMS or Email is nearly half the cost of a traditional registered letter,” explains Norman Colling, a Partner at Registered Communication.

“Delivering a digital registered communication is instantaneous, meaning that the sender can receive an audited report confirming that the addressee has received the document within seconds, rather than waiting for the somewhat slower traditional registered mail delivery,” he adds.

Furthermore, large financial services providers have noted a 17% increase in payments received in response to a digitally delivered final letter of demand, noting that South Africans seem to respond more positively to communication delivered to their mobile phone than traditional messaging channels.

This could be because addressees must still go to the post office to collect a traditional registered letter to sign documentation as proof of receipt, while digital registered letters’ proof of receipt is generated without the addressee having to take any action.

Addressees in remote locations may struggle to get to their local post office to collect registered mail, which may further negatively impact on sender’s success in communicating with the addressee. South Africa has the highest mobile penetration rate in Africa, with 37.5 million unique mobile subscribers with 80 million connections, highlighting the significant potential reach of registered digital communication.

Registered Communication’s internationally recognised services replace traditional registered post with digital options, providing its clients with an auditable digital communication service across all channels. The service produces an instant and detailed audit report confirming that the addressee received the communication to the mobile number or email address they supplied when signing a contract.

The service can be integrated into businesses’ various communication platforms, and can generate validation certificates for conversations in email, SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter direct messages, Facebook direct messages, and various other platforms where brands engage with their customers.

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