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21 Rescission of Judgment II
20 Rescission of Judgment
19 Independence and Objectivity
18 Property lawyer or Conveyancer
17 Execution of a Judgment
16 Buying / Selling a Business
15 Small Claims Court
14 Legal things to do in 2012
13 Drunken Driving
12 Legal queries
11 Trusts – its all in the name
10 Due diligence – a basic tool in your business kit
9 Debt Collection - a professional approach
8 "I do?" – understanding the legal impact of getting married. 
7. Homes, castles and dreams
6. To sue or not to sue? Let's start with "how" to sue.
5. Knowledge helps – Wills and Administration of Deceased Estates
4. Paying it forward – pro bono support where it counts
3. Contracts - Prevention is better than cure
2. The prickly matter of legal costs
1. Success comes with small steps

Tel: 0027 (0)84 300 5763 
Fax: 086 605 8265 



To sue or not to sue? Let’s start with “how” to sue.

Your patience is long gone, you have had enough and you’ve decided to sue that person who owes you money, who damaged your property, or whatever it was that they did. The question is “how” does it work? We thought it would be useful to at least know basically how the process starts.

The flowchart attached below shows the initial stages of civil litigation in the Magistrates’ Court and Regional Court. If Default Judgment is not obtained as in “A” on the flowchart, the litigation process will follow in roughly three stages:

  • Pleadings:   Here the parties exchange documents containing their arguments about the case. It can take anything from 6 months to a year.

  • Preparation for Trial:   During this stage, a trial date is obtained, parties must disclose the evidence on which their cases are based, witnesses and experts (if applicable) are interviewed and instructed, and preparations are made for appearance in Court. Since a trial date is usually given for 4 to 6 months later, the preparation for trial happens within that time.

  • Trial:   This is where your case is finally heard by the Magistrate. Once all arguments have been made and witnesses heard, it is often the case that the Magistrate will “reserve judgment”, meaning that he/she will tell the parties to come back on a later date when the judgment will be given. This can be anything from a week to a month or a few months.

    Litigation in the High Court follows a similar process, but, notably, trial dates in the High Court are given for about 3 years later, because of a backlog in cases.

    Whether you bring a civil claim in the Magistrates’, Regional or High Court will mostly depend on the value of the claim. Individuals and legal entities can bring claims in the Magistrates’ Court for capital amounts up to R100,000.00, and claims in the Regional Court for capital amounts between R100,000.00 and R300,000.00. Attorneys can appear and argue cases in both the Magistrates’ and Regional Court. For claims over R300,000.00 you will bring your case in the High Court where your attorney will have to instruct an advocate to appear on your behalf and to argue the case, unless the attorney has the right to appear in the High Court.

    Finally, individuals with a claim up to R12,000.00 can bring that claim in the Small Claims Court. While you can get assistance from a lawyer at your own cost, your lawyer will not be allowed to argue your case for you. Legal entities, including close corporations, may not bring a claim in the Small Claims Court.

    Once a judgment is obtained, you enter the world of recovery of costs and payment of judgments, but that is a topic for another Grey Space.

    Click here to download the Magistrates court process

    Contact details:
    Email:        Tel: 0027 (0)84 300 5763        Fax: 086 605 8265        Web:
    43 Balfour Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700 / PO Box 15298, Vlaeberg, 8018, South Africa

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