Procedural Timetables and Prescription Periods

June 1st, 2017

By Derek Harms SC

Durban: LexisNexis

(2016) 1st edition

Price R 296.49 (incl VAT)

198 pages (soft cover)

This handbook is no lofty tome on the jurisprudence around prescription and civil procedure. It is a handbook that is just short of 200 pages and is packed with information regarding two issues that are of daily concern to litigation and commercial attorneys, namely, prescription and the time limits provided for in the court rules and statutes subject to which attorneys practice. Its usefulness extends beyond the practice of the attorney practicing in the High or lower courts as the content includes timetables and procedures in the areas of law within which commercial law attorneys and advocates practice as well.

The author of this handbook, advocate Derek Harms SC, holds a BA LLB degree (Unisa) and a Diploma in Intellectual Property (London). The author practices in the field of general commercial and intellectual property law at the Cape Bar and he has authored books dealing more substantively with procedure in the courts, but as indicated the extent of this work is limited to the subjects indicated above.

The content page gives the reader an indication of how logically and well set out the subject matter of the book is dealt with. It affords the practitioner quick and easy access to the procedural timetables applicable in the numerous institutions covered by the book. The work commences with the procedural timetables applicable in the High Court, magistrate’s and regional courts, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. It also covers the procedural timetables of the Labour Court, the Land Claims Court, Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the Tax Court. It also covers the institutions created in the Competition Act 89 of 1998 and also Patent and Trademark legislation.

Having dealt with those rules and regulations the work then covers the procedural timetables of the practice directives and rules applicable in the various divisions of the High Courts in South Africa.

The procedural timetables are dealt with in three columns headed ‘Nature of Act’, ‘Time Allowed’ and ‘Section or Rule or Directive’. The different procedures, be they actions or applications, opposed or unopposed, are all dealt with separately and this allows for easy reference to determine the steps in the process and the time periods to be complied with, as well as a reference to the relevant rule or regulation governing the steps.

The last few pages cover the topics of prescription periods defined in the Prescription Act 68 of 1969 and the limitations for the institution of proceedings placed on litigants by the Institution of Legal Proceedings against Certain Organs of State Act 40 of 2002 and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000. It deals with the subject of condonation under the last two mentioned Acts. Superannuation of judgments granted in the magistrate’s court is also referred to.

Consistent with the accuracy and thoroughness of the work, the author indicates in his foreword that the work will be updated annually to keep in step with legislation and rule amendments. The 2016 edition under review is an update of the 2014/2015 legislation and bears out the author’s commitment to this stated intent.

This handbook is an essential aid to those who practice in the fields mentioned above and it is worthy of a place on every practitioner’s desk.

After the writing of the review the 2017 edition of Procedural Timetables and Prescription Periods was published. In essence the court terms of the various Superior Courts have been updated and the procedural timetables of the High Court and those of the regional and magistrate’s courts affected by recent rule changes have been amended.

Graham Bellairs is an attorney at Graham Bellairs & Solomons in Cape Town.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (June) DR 60.