Small Claims Court opens

Tuesday May 2 will see the first sitting of a new Small Claims Court in Simon’s Town with local attorney Danie Rossouw presiding as one of the first commissioners (as the judges in these courts are known), to adjudicate upon matters on that day.

The Small Claims Court is regulated by the Small Claims Court Act of 1984, which came into effect in October 1985. The aim of the Small Claims system is first and foremost to make justice inexpensive and accessible in a speedy, affordable and simple manner without using an attorney and where claims do not exceed
R15 000.

Legal assistants and clerks of the Small Claims Courts will assist claimants free of charge. Companies cannot approach the Small Claims Courts to settle disputes. Any of the official languages can be used in the court and the commissioner hears each side of the story and asks questions before making a ruling.

The commissioner examines evidence and questions the parties to establish the facts and come to a fair decision.

“As courts of equity, the Small Claims Courts gives both parties to a claim the opportunity to present their cases in person, without the aid of an attorney” says Mr Rossouw a veteran who has served as commissioner in the Wynberg Small Claims Court since 2002 and received a certificate in recognition of long and dedicated service, pro bono, from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development.

“The success of a Small Claims Court depends by and large on members of the legal fraternity, attorneys, advocates and legal academics, being willing to interrupt busy schedules to preside, unpaid, as commissioners.

“I am grateful that colleague, attorney Anna Cornelius will initially be sharing the workload on hearing matters on a roster basis. We are hopeful that more local attorneys and advocates will make themselves available to preside as Commissioners in the new Simon’s Town Small Claim Court,” says Mr Rossouw.

The Simon’s Town Small Claims Court will commence with fortnightly hearings every alternate Tuesday at 4.30pm, with more frequent sessions being planned as the case load increases and more legal professionals make themselves available to preside as commissioners.

Members of the public wishing to institute qualifying actions in the Simon’s Town Court, may visit the Clerk of the Small Claims Court at the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court during normal office hours.