Regspraak: Novasie en delegasie van skuld – hoe raak dit die versekering van die tersake skuld?

Authors: JC Sonnekus & EC Schlemmer

ISSN: 1996-2207
Affiliations: Universiteit van Johannesburg; Universiteit van die Witwatersrand
Source: Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg, Issue 2, 2021, p. 356 – 378


Personal rights may be transferred by means of cession, and, in such an instance, the cedent (creditor) does not need the debtor’s permission, but once the debtor has been informed, the debt is redeemed only if he performs against the cessionary. If however, someone owes a debt, he (the debtor) can free himself of the obligation only if he redeems the debt, if he is released, or through the running of prescription. But sometimes it might be necessary that a restructuring of someone’s debts takes place or the debtor may want to be replaced with someone else who is willing to take over his obligation. This can be done only with the cooperation and agreement of the creditor. In such a case the debtor delegates his obligation to another person, who then becomes the new debtor of a new debt – the creditor relinquishes his right against the old debtor and accepts the new debtor and the new debt. The old debt no longer exists. It is also possible to rearrange the debt and create a new obligation which extinguishes the old debt – a novation takes place.

This contribution starts with a discussion of these general principles and particularly the role that they (should) play when one is dealing with a secured debt which the debtor wants to delegate or when novation comes into play. This leads into a discussion of Wilke NO v Griekwaland Wes Korporatief Ltd (1327/2019) 2020 ZASCA 182 (23 Dec 2020) and the judgments in the earlier courts in which the supreme court of appeal and the other courts did not consider the implications of delegation and novation on an underlying debt when that debt was secured. Delegation and novation extinguish the underlying debt and any security right fortifying that debt is thereby also extinguished because of the principle of accessority. If the creditor requires the new debt to be secured, a new security right needs to be established by meeting all the requirements for the establishment of such security whether it is a right of suretyship or a real security right. A creditor must carefully consider agreeing to a delegation or novation of a secured debt since the implication is that he loses his secured and preferential position, and, even with the creation of a new security right, he loses the ranking he initially held in the line of secured creditors when a right of mortgage, for example, is at stake – qui prior est tempore potior est iure (D 20 4 11pr).