South Africa

New rules for small claims up to R20,000 in South Africa – what you need to know

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has gazetted new rules regulating matters submitted to the small claims courts in South Africa.

Small claims courts offer a quicker and easier way of resolving certain civil disputes that involve amounts up to R20,000 in the country.

The draft rules outline the various procedures that must be followed when making small claims, including all the necessary forms that must be filled in and submitted – by both applicants and defendants – and the fees involved.

Because the small claims court often deals with laymen in the legal processes, more leeway is given in the rules. This includes not having errors and misspellings with dates and figures invalidate claims, and not having default judgements against parties where certain rules aren’t complied with.

“If any party has been misled by any such error in any process served upon him or her, the court may on oral or written application grant such party relief as may be deemed just and may for that purpose set aside the process and rescind any default judgment given thereon,” the rules state.

The fees charged in the execution of court duties are also lower than one would expect from legal proceedings and billed to the mandator of the claim.

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  • Issuing a summons comes with a charge of between R45.00 and R70.00, depending on the distance from the office;
  • An attempted service of a summons between R37.50 and R63.00;
  • Execution of a warrant between R63.00 and R87.50;
  • An attempted execution between R52.00 and R79.50;
  • In addition to these fees, the sheriff of the court is allowed a travelling allowance of R6.00 per kilometre travelled for the shortest possible route in executing their duties;
  • Ejectment of a defendant is R22.50 for the first 30 minutes, thereafter R67.50 per hour;
  • Other fees include charges for telephone calls, writing letters or emails related to the matter for R11.00; sending faxes and emails for R6.50; and making copies of official documentation for R5.00.

If parties want to review the proceedings of the small claims court, they would have to apply to the High Court. This can only be done on certain grounds, the rules state. These include:

  • The small claims court does not have jurisdiction over the matter
  • There is an interest in the cause, bias or malice by the commissioner
  • There is a gross irregularity in proceedings.

The rules will come into effect on a date still to be determined by the justice and correctional services minister.

The full draft rules and all the forms related to small claims can be found in the gazette below:

Read: 4 landmark laws coming to South Africa – what you need to know

Artmotion S.Africa

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