Justice Department meets its target of establishing Small Claims Court in Limpopo
06 November 2015
The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery launched a Small Claims Court at Tiyani Magistrate Court, Limpopo, today, 6 November 2015. The launch of the Small Claims Court is the department’s effort to bring access to justice closer to the people.
In his address, the Deputy Minister affirmed the department’s commitment to make access to justice a reality. “Access to justice is not necessarily the ability to walk to and reach the building where justice is administered. It only becomes complete when one`s dispute is settled speedily, in an unbiased manner and when one feels he or she has had access to qualitative justice,” Said Deputy Minister.
Small Claims Courts enable even the indigent to access justice without requiring to source a legal representative at the cost. These courts are used to settle minor civil disputes and claims between parties in an informal manner. The highest amount for which an individual dispute can be settled is up to R15 000. If the amount under dispute is more than R15 000, the person claiming can lessen his/her claim to R15 000. The newly launched Small Claims Courts in Tiyani Magistrate’s Court serves more than 185,000 community members.
The Deputy Minister indicated that in 1994 the Small Claims Courts were mostly in white and urban areas. Today, Smalls Claims Court are all over the country, and most of these courts have been established in black or rural areas.
Thus far the department has established 365 Small Claim courts in the country. Out of these, 36 Small Claims Courts were established in all Magistrates’ courts in Limpopo. The Deputy Minister also acknowledged the role played by the commissioners who continue to serve for free at these Small Claims Courts as presiding officers. “This evening we will be handing out 33 long services awards to deserving commissioners in this province. The hearings in a small claim court are conducted in a more informal manner by appointed commissioners.” said Deputy Minister.
The commissioners who preside in these courts are drawn from a pool of experienced legal professionals and academics, who offer their services and their time free of charge.
Deputy Minister concluded his address by encouraging traditional and community leaders to urge people to use the small claims courts to settle dispute and reiterated the department’s commitment to broaden access to justice.
Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Enquiries: Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
Spokesperson for the for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional services
083 641 8141 / Mediaenquiries@justice.gov.za