23 May 2019
Some of the 6 000 file backlog in the office of deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba are more than 10 years old. In many cases the medico-legal expert reports have lapsed and taxpayer money will have to pay for the duplication of reviews and reports.
A “practice directive” from Ledwaba’s office aimed at clearing up the delays says a trial-readiness certificate can only be obtained if applications have signed pre-trial minutes, expert reports and joint minutes from the resulting judicial certification meeting. The deputy judge president has the executive power to remove a matter from the court roll, as has happened with many RAF cases.
Legal experts says the process is inconsistent and prejudices clients who were part of older directives, as their cases no longer comply. This new directive is supposed to attend to the backlog, but it is not practical and there is no sense of urgency. The problem is getting bigger!
“In the past a plaintiff could apply for a trial date after pleadings become closed and a trial date would be allocated in line with court rules. This was cost effective and worked very well. Currently no trial dates are being issued.” says personal injury lawyer Gert Nel.
Aprav chairperson Pieter de Bruyn says there are mechanisms that can be implemented to resolve this crisis, but there needs to be a common will from all parties. “Firstly, Ledwaba should consider making his new rule applicable to all new cases and issue certificates of readiness to clear the backlog of claims. Secondly, the RAF should simply adhere to its legal mandate to claimants that specifies settlement within 120 days!”
The Sunday Times this week reported that they did not receive any response from deputy judge president Ledwaba’s office. He is currently acting as a Constitutional Court justice and his office is being managed by Judge Joseph Raulinga.