A Hire Purchase Act is long overdue
Stabroek News
December 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

Ever since Mr Burnham legalised obeah I was quoted in the local press as saying that there was a greater need for a Hire-Purchase Act to be passed here in Guyana than legislation dealing with obeah.

Recently a friend of mine asked me to stand as a guarantor for her as she wanted to purchase a fridge on hire-purchase. The lady in question actually filled in a form and was about to sign same when she observed that the price marked on the item in the store was almost $100,000 more when insurance and other charges were added.

Another store did offer her a better deal but here again all she was given was a payment book in which to record her payments but no written contract.

Over the years I have had several clients complain against the sellers of motor vehicles on hire purchase. These complaints varied from seizure after substantial sums were paid, increased interest rate added and of course no written contract which expressed fully the terms and conditions under which the hire was granted.

The preamble to the English Hire Purchase Act 1938 as set out in Cheshire and Fifoot's Law of Contract reads as follows:-

"It had been found by experience that the recipients of goods on credit, whether on the hire purchase system or otherwise, were often caught by onerous clauses of whose existence they were unaware or whose purport they failed to understand. The Hire Purchase Act 1938 was therefore designed to protect such persons from the consequence of their ignorance or thoughtlessness. Its draftsman sought to achieve this object in two ways; on the one hand by implying terms into every hire purchase agreement, and on the other hand by adding to the list of unenforceable contracts".

Two types of transactions are covered by the Act, hire purchase agreements and credit-sale agreements, a distinction which is unknown to the purchaser in Guyana.

Hundreds of persons will have their items - cars, buses, TVs, refrigerators, stoves, dinette sets etc, repossessed by various firms and the purchasers will have no redress and no protection under the law.

It is more than past time to enact our own Hire Purchase Act. We don't even have to draft one, all that is necessary is to amend the English Act to conform to local conditions.

Yours faithfully,

R.J. Eleazar