Justice Today

Justice Today, March 2019

Justice in Action

Small Claims Court monetary jurisdiction increased

March 2019

Ngwenya
Delegates who attended the Small Claims Workshop in Durban.

Do you intend of bring forward a claim to the Small Claims Court, but are worried you may have to decrease part of your claim? No need to abandon part of your claim, as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will increase monetary jurisdiction from R15 000 to R20 000 from 1 April this year.

Deputy Minister John Jeffery announced the good news recently during the KwaZulu-Natal Small Claims Court Workshop. “We are confident that the proposed increase is in the interest of access to civil justice and will further assist our people to have their legal matters resolved,” explained Deputy Minister Jeffery.

This increase will further enhance poorer communities’ access to justice.¬† “Many claimants have claims of up to R20 000, but cannot afford the services of legal representatives and many claimants do not want to abandon a part of their claim,” he explained.

Small Claims Court are used to settle minor civil disputes and claims between parties without representation by an attorney, in an informal manner. “For many people, Small Claims Court is their only option. It’s often the only way for them to get redress and recourse,” emphasized Deputy Minister Jeffery.¬†

The workshop, held in Durban was attended by Commissioners with the aim of discussing the functioning and the operational aspects of these courts. “We are really grateful to have Commissioners who are doing such a good job to ensure that everyone has access to justice,” said KwaZulu-Natal Regional Head: Pat Moodley.

The department has been working earnestly to establish Small Claims Courts in areas that previously had no access to justice services. Currently there are 415 Small Claims Courts countrywide and over 1950 Commissioners presiding in these courts countrywide, of which 236 are Legal Aid employees and 72 are Magistrates.

The Guidelines for Commissioners and Guidelines for Clerks have been finalised and will also be effective as from 1 April, to coincide with the new jurisdictional amount. The aim of the Guidelines is to assist with issues which Commissioners and Clerks battle with on a daily basis, such as how the consumer protection legislation and National Credit Act impact on the work of the Small Claims Courts.

Follow this link for more information on Small Claims Court.

By Sinenhlanhla Mkhwanazi