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dispute resolution | 17 Jun 2020
BY Aslam Moosajee AND Vishana Makan
ENSight

dispute resolution


South Africa: litigating during alert level 3 and contact details for the Johannesburg High Court

On 1 June 2020, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services issued directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in all courts, court precincts and justice service points in South Africa during alert level 3. These directions provide, among other things:

  • that where the Presiding Officer deems appropriate, audio visual links may be used in any proceedings (other than criminal cases) if this would help prevent unreasonable delay, save costs or be convenient and make it unnecessary for the person to appear in person in the court room;
  • that travel between provinces is now allowed. In particular, the directions state that “judges, magistrates, legal practitioners, sheriffs and other officers of the court may commute between their places of residence, offices, and courts including to a different province for purposes of performing permitted services upon presenting proof of appointment to such office together with any form of identification, if required to do so by enforcement officers”;
  • that a court room, court house or justice service point must be disinfected whenever any officer of the court or a member of the public who has tested positive for COVID-19 has been in such a court room, court house or justice service point. In addition, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development must publish protocols for circumstances in which a court room, a court house or justice service point may be closed for purposes of disinfection, the duration for which it will be closed and alternative arrangements made for the duration of the closure;
  • for the expansion of permitted legal services under alert level 3. In particular:
    • the list of criminal trials that may be heard now include the following cases:
      • a child is an accused, a witness or a victim;
      • single witness trials;
      • cases on the priority roll;
      • any other matter allowed by the Presiding Officer;
    • civil law proceedings that are now allowed include, inter alia:
      • the hearing of Small Claims Court matters;
      • the issuing of all court process and proceedings and filing of papers. This is to be contrasted with the directives applicable to alert level 4, which limited the issuing and filing of papers to those which were “relevant to pending proceedings”;
      • the hearing of any other civil action or motion if approved by the Judicial Officer hearing the matter;
    • the list of services provided by the office of the Master of the High Court now includes, inter alia:
      • the reporting and issuing of appointments in all trust and curatorship matters (as opposed to only urgent trust and curatorship matters during alert level 4);
      • the examination of accounts in curatorship matters;
      • the registration and appointments in deceased estates, in line with the Master's delegation;
    • permitted services of sheriffs now include “all services except those excluded in terms the Regulations applicable to alert level 3 including, the service of all processes and orders and the execution of writs and warrants and online sales in execution”.

The following contact details are applicable for the Johannesburg High Court:

  • The telephone numbers for afterhours Urgent Court are 082 573 5233 and 081 727 7734.
  • To issue new cases, the initiating document must be sent to JHBissuing@judiciary.org.za. Once the case is created on CaseLines, the issued documents may be collected in the foyer between 10:00 and 12:00 the following day.
  • For assistance with CaseLines, contact Tiisetso per 067 208 7754 or Noluvuyo per 074 896 2029 (between 08:00 and 16:00), or email JHBCaselines@judiciary.org.za.  
  • For enquiries related to enrolment of unopposed motions and to confirm final enrolment, email JHBUenrolment@judiciary.org.za or call 011 335 0491. Applications for new dates should be sent to JHBUprovisional@judiciary.org.za.
  • Enrolment of summary judgment, interlocutory applications where no hearing date has been set and divorce and Rule 43 applications should also be sent to the unopposed motion email addresses above.
  • For enquiries, application for new dates and confirmation of dates for final enrolment related to opposed motions, email JHBOenrolment@judiciary.org.za.
  • For filing of documents in terms of the Uniform Rules of Court, email JHBfiling@judiciary.org.za. The documents, together with a printout of the email, should be uploaded on CaseLines.
  • For enquires, application for dates and removals of Case Management Conferences, email JHBpretrial@judiciary.org.za.
  • For enquiries, application for dates and removals of civil trials email JHBciviltrials@judicairy.org.za.
  • Practice notes for enrolled civil trials should be emailed to SecretaryDJP@judiciary.org.za.
  • For applications for admission as legal practitioner as well as trial interlocutory applications, email JHBadmissions@judiciary.org.za.
  • When using one of the above email addresses, remember that:
    • An email must be sent to only the relevant email address;
    • An email must be sent only once;
    • Emails must be sent only between 09:00 and 13:00 on court days; and
    • Directive 2/2020 remains in place ie, no more than 15 processes per law firm should be sent on a daily basis.

 

Aslam Moosajee

Dispute Resolution | Director

+27 82 461 5917

amoosajee@ensafrica.com

Vishana Makan

Dispute Resolution | Associate

+27 66 493 2372

vmakan@ensafrica.com