The Africanisation Of South African Civil Procedure: The Way Forward
Keywords:civil procedure, courts, rules of court, legislation, common law, specialist civil courts, dispute resolution mechanisms, Africanisation, African customary law, Traditional Courts Bill, access to justice, transform
Civil procedure enforces the rules and provisions of civil law. The law of civil procedure involves the issuing, service and filing of documents to initiate court proceedings in the superior courts and lower courts. Indeed, notice of legal proceedings is given to every person to ensure compliance with the audi alteram partem maxim (“hear the other side”). There are various rules and legislation that regulate these court proceedings such as inter alia, the Superior Courts Act, 2013, Uniform Rules of Court, Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, 2012 and the Magistrates’ Courts Act of 1944. The rules of court are binding on a court by virtue of their nature. The purpose of these rules is to facilitate inexpensive and efficient legislation. However, civil procedure does not only depend on statutory provisions and the rules of court. Common law also plays a role. Superior Courts are said to exercise inherent jurisdiction in that its jurisdiction is derived from common law. It is noteworthy that whilst our rules of court and statutes are largely based on the English law, Roman-Dutch law also has an impact on our procedural law. The question thus arises, how can our law of civil procedure transform to accommodate elements of Africanisation as we are part and parcel of the African continent/diaspora? In this regard, the article examines the origins of Western-based civil procedure, our formal court systems, the impact of the Constitution on traditional civil procedure, the use of dispute resolution mechanisms in Western legal systems and African culture, an overview of the Traditional Courts Bill of 2012 and the advent of the Traditional Courts Bill of 2017. The article also examines how the contentious Traditional Courts Bills of 2012 and 2017 will transform or complement the law of civil procedure and apply in practice once it is passed into law.
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