On 04 October 2018, all commercial attorneys in Pretoria had a sigh of relief and renewed enthusiasm for their commercial matters.
On 03 October 2018, the Honourable Judge President of the Gauteng Divisions of the High Court of South Africa, issued a Practice Directive, introducing the Commercial Court. Any quotes contained in this blog post are extracts from this Practice Directive.
The Commercial Court aims to streamline and expedite commercial litigation in Gauteng.
For the past few years, we and several other attorneys serving commercial clients, experienced a sense of helplessness, as the court rolls were severely saturated with non-commercial matters and thereby causing a delay in the conduct of commercial litigation.
The Commercial Court is a welcomed development for all commercial attorneys, especially those in Pretoria. Attorneys in Pretoria were the most affected by the saturated court rolls. Approximately 100 000 cases are issued from this court each year, and the majority thereof that proceeds to trial, are third-party claims (claims against the Road Accident Fund).
Commercial litigation was therefore strangled by the third-party claims and many individuals, business owners and shareholders felt that litigation was not a viable option to resolve disputes. A dispute that could only be resolved by full-fledged litigation, could take between 2 to 3 years.
With the new practice directive, the "Commercial Court aims to promote efficient conduct of litigation in the High Court and resolve disputes quickly, cheaply, fairly and with legal acuity."
At Botha Bezuidenhout Attorneys Inc, we serve various commercial clients and both us and our clients became frustrated by the lengthy process and long waiting times for court dates. This, however, is about to change.
Lengthy litigation can influence a business negatively to a great extent and attorneys have reached a point where they can only advise clients to settle or endure a 3 year litigation period.
Attorneys are dependent on the court to see justice, but with so many litigants seeking justice, it is normal for a court to become saturated. By introducing a separate branch of the Court to deal with commercial matters, commercial litigation in Pretoria received a new breath of life.
At the time of writing this blog post, we are on the verge of referring our first commercial matter to the Commercial Court and in the weeks to come, we will update you on our findings of the process and its effectiveness.
If you have a commercial matter, but experienced frustration in the past by the lengthy process, we might have a solution for you.
A commercial matter is one that is "ordinarily a substantial case that has as its foundation a broadly commercial transaction or commercial relationship." We can, therefore, accept that any money-issue arising out of a transaction or agreement, can be described as a commercial matter.
We hereby also extend our gratitude to Honourable Judge President Mlambo, for issuing this practice directive and affording attorneys the opportunity to approach the High Court of Pretoria again with full confidence that our commercial matters can be resolved expeditiously so that our clients' businesses can move forward.
This blog post was written as if positive changes have already been experienced. This is done to emphasise our trust and hope that the Commercial Court will bring about such changes.