08 JRC

 

 

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS

(as on 21 February 2008)

JURISDICTION OF REGIONAL COURTS AMENDMENT BILL

[B 48─2007]

 

 

A. General comments

 

Commentator

Comment

S P Khuduge

(08 JRC 1)

The Bill discriminates unfairly against district court magistrates who are interested and competent to adjudicate in more advanced trials in the regional courts.

ARMSA

(08 JRC 2)

ARMSA supports fully the objects of the Bill and is committed to ensuring that the provisions would be applied properly and responsibly.

LSSA

(08 JRC 3)

The LSSA supports the Bill in principle.

C Helm Spence

(08 JRC 4)

The Southern Divorce Court should not be closed, as it is more accessible and less expensive than the High Court.

Jacques du Preez Attorneys

(08 JRC 5)

The commentator's experience of the Southern Divorce Court in Port Elizabeth over the past few years has been extremely positive, while the same cannot be said for their experience of the regional courts. Should the Divorce Court merge with the regional court without experienced presiding officers handling the family law matters, they most surely do not agree with the Bill. Also, should the Divorce Court merge with the Regional Courts without more premises and personnel being appointed to carry the workload, they also object to the Bill.

Commission on Gender Equality

(08 JRC 8)

The CGE believes that the proposed amendments enumerated in the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill [ 48 2007 ] is an important step in expanding the Rights as contained in Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution. Furthermore, this Bill will promote and protect gender equality because once promulgated it will allow more Courts to adjudicate on divorce and related matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 


B. Clause-specific comments

 

Clause

Commentator

Comment

1

ARMSA

(08 JRC 2)

Clause 1 of the Bill refers to section 1 of the principal Act, which does not include "regional magistrate" in the definition. (?)

1

Commission on Gender Equality

(08 JRC 8)

a)       Ad 2(1)(b) Minister must be required to take valid criteria into consideration.

b)       Ad 2(1)(eA) amendment is vague and ambiguous. It empowers the Minister to interfere with regional divisions for any purpose he deems necessary.

c)       Ad 2(1)(i) The "proposed amendment" relates to an administrative decision, and the CGE recommends that it should provide guidelines for the exercising of such power.

 

 

 

2

LSSA

(08 JRC 3)

The geographical demarcations of jurisdiction of the courts will have to be attended to.

 

 

 

3

S P Khuduge

(08 JRC 1)

a)       The "appropriate training course" referred to in the new subsection (6) should be sufficiently comprehensive so as to prevent a lowering of standards.

b)       The new subsection (7) impacts negatively on the independence of the judiciary. The question as to who is fit and proper to adjudicate as a magistrate of a regional division should be left to the Magistrates Commission.

3

LSSA

(08 JRC 3)

The LSSA recommends that proper training and civil court exposure is afforded to the presiding judicial officers, and believes that the legal profession has many competent and experienced attorneys who can be appointed as regional court magistrates. There is a desperate shortage of trained civil court magistrates.

3

ARMSA

(08 JRC 2)

a)       There should also be appropriate training on criminal matters.

b)       Should it not be specifically spelt out how the "appropriateness" of the training is to be determined?

c)       It is suggested that the Magistrates Commission's training committee and/or in conjunction with the Regional Court Presidents Forum should determine such "appropriateness".

 

 

 

4

Commission on Gender Equality

(08 JRC 8)

a)       Ad 28(1)(c) the amendment is vague and open to mischief. It is proposed that the wording should be "any other natural or juristic person in any primary or interlocutory proceeding instituted in the court by such natural or juristic person".

b)       Ad 28(1)(e)(ii) the words "subject matter" are vague and open to mischief, and should be replaced by the words "legal object".

 

 

 

5

ARMSA

(08 JRC 2)

a)       After 29(1)(g), add new paragraphs (h) and (i), bestowing jurisdiction in respect of the Promotion of Administrative Justice and Promotion of Access to Information Acts, respectively.

b)       See section 13 of the principal Act regarding the appointment of clerks and how it will impact on the fact that "regional magistrates" are not defined.

c)       Regarding section 30 of the principal Act, the question is raised whether or not a regional court can grant applications without "regional magistrate" being defined?

5

LSSA

(08 JRC 3)

The infrastructure of the (regional) courts is inadequate to deal with the increase (in jurisdiction). If the courts are not able to deal with the increased jurisdiction, it will erode access to the courts and disadvantage litigants.

5

Commission on Gender Equality

(08 JRC 8)

Ad 29(1)(f) the jurisdiction of regional courts in respect of matrimonial actions should be on a par with that of the High Courts.

 

 

 

7

S P Khuduge

(08 JRC 1)

There is a need for rules in respect of (new) matters other than divorces which the regional courts will be able to adjudicate upon. The rules applicable in the High Courts should be adopted in the regional courts.

7

ARMSA

(08 JRC 2)

Regarding clause 7(2)(b) and (c) what about Divorce Court Presidents?