Understanding the jurisdictional implications of your matter is an important part of the preliminary steps in legal proceedings. Certain matters cannot be heard in the Magistrates Court due to their nature and must be heard in the High Court. Given the time and costs which outweigh that of the High Court, it is in an individual’s best interest to be aware of the jurisdictional exceptions and rules. Such matters which include status claims are as follows:
- Claims involving the interpretation or validity of a will as in s 46(2)(a) of the Magistrates Court Act 32 of 1944 (the Act)
- Certain matters which involve the status of an individual’s mental capacity as per s 46(2)(b)
- Matters where a decree of perpetual silence is sought by a party as per s 46(2)(d), this order involves a party requesting the Court to prevent someone from continuously threatening to institute legal action against you
In the second instance, matters involving specific performance claims, where there is no alternative of the payment of damages, are heard in the High Court with the following exceptions:
- If the claim is for the rendering of an account and the account is R 200 000-00 or below;
- If the claim is for the transfer or delivery of property which is valued at R 200 000-00 or under;
- If the claim is for the delivery or transfer of property valued at R 200 000-00 and where the parties in the matter have consented to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court.
The general rules have exceptions which include consent, abandonment and deduction. Consent, in terms of s 45 of the Act, is where parties consent to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court (regional or district depending on the monetary threshold) and can be done in writing. Secondly, abandonment in terms of s 38 of the Act involves a party abandoning the part of his or her claim which exceed the monetary threshold. For instance, if your claim is for R 220 000-00 you can abandon R 20 000-00 to bring it in line with the District Court’s limit. Note that this part of your claim is then extinguished forever and cannot later be reclaimed or sued for. The same principle applies in regional Courts, as mentioned. Thirdly, the option of deduction in terms of s 39 of the Act. This is where you could deduct the part owed to the defendant to bring your claim in line with the Court, whether it be district or regional. Such deduction will emanate from an admitted debt.
Should you require any assistance, do not hesitate to contact us to assist you.