BY Tumi Modubu
South Africa: time periods for civil proceedings during the lockdown period
On 26 March 2020, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services issued Directions in terms of Regulation 10 of the Regulations under the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (the “Directions”).The Directions will apply during the period of the lockdown, between midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020 and midnight on Thursday, 16 April 2020.Although the Directions establish various rules for litigating, the purpose of this note is to highlight the change in respect of the calculation of the time periods for the delivery of pleadings and notices in civil matters during the period of the lockdown.
Section 5(c) of the Directions provides that:
“All time limits imposed by any rule of court shall be suspended and recommence after the termination or lapsing of the period of the National State of Disaster, unless specific orders are granted by judicial officers in urgent and essential cases.”
First, in the context of section 5(c), reference to the “national state of disaster”, must be read to mean the “period of the lockdown”.
Second, the suspension to the time periods only applies to matters that are not urgent and essential.It is worth mentioning that Directions, as well as any other directives which have been gazetted to date, do not define essential applications. The Directions define a matter as “an urgent or essential court application and hearing including a bail application in case of first appearance of an accused person, or a matter which if not enrolled during the lockdown, will lead to substantial injustice”.
The Directions then provide specific writs that will be executed during the period of the lockdown and family law services that will be dealt with during this period.Essential applications should therefore be understood to be applications pertaining to expressed essential services provided for under Annexure B of the Directions in respect to the response to Covid-19 in the cooperative governance and traditional affairs sectors on 25 March 2020.
In conclusion, when reckoning time periods for the delivery of pleadings and notices in civil matters, one must therefore not include the dates between Friday, 27 March 2020 and Thursday, 16 April 2020 (both inclusive).
Reviewed by Senso Mbatha, an Executive in ENSafrica’s Dispute Resolution department.
Dispute Resolution | Senior Associate
+27 82 560 3597
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. The disease has since been reported in over 190 countries.
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