Less Known Courts

We have already discussed the Magistrates Court and High Court in a previous article, but these are the courts most people may at least have heard of. Similar, the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court are a lot more popular due to media coverage surrounding maters heard in these courts. There are however many more courts in South Africa and the Magistrates Court is also divided into two separate courts, which few people are aware of. In this article, this fact along with many other facts about the less known courts will be discussed.

Magistrates Courts

The Magistrates Court divided into the regional and district courts for any given magisterial district.

  • The District court at time of writing has a jurisdictional monetary value of claims of less than R200,000 and for minor criminal matters;
  • The Regional court has jurisdiction over matters such as divorces, custody related matters, more serious criminal matters and a monetary value of between R200,000 and R400,000;

Small Claims Court

The Small Claims Court is also usually found at the Magistrates Courts offices. The small claims court does not hear matter instituted by legal representatives and only matters by natural persons against natural or juristic persons (claims against the state cannot be heard here). The Small Claims Court has a monetary jurisdiction of R20,000 or less.

Labour and Labour Appeal Courts

The Labour Court has the same jurisdiction as a High Court (pecuniary values above R400,000), however they have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of all maters in terms of the Labour Relations Act and other labour law. The Labour Appeal Court has the same jurisdiction as the Supreme Court of Appeal (not a court of first appearance) and the Labour Appeal Court is also the final court of appeal in respect of judgments and orders made by the Labour Court.

Divorce Court

There were previously courts specifically for divorces, however, these now form part of the Regional Courts. Both Regional Courts and High Courts can hear divorce matters.

Competition Appeal Court

The Competition Appeal Court has the same status as the High Court and it reviews or considers an appeal against any decision of the Competition Tribunal (the Tribunal deals with restrictive practices, abuses, or dominant positions and mergers).

Electoral Court

The Electoral Court has the same status as the High Court and it reviews any decision of the Electoral Commission relating to an electoral matter and appeals against decisions of the Electoral Commission.

Children’s Court and Maintenance Courts

Every Magistrate’s Court is a Children’s Court and a Maintenance Court and shall have jurisdiction on any matter arising from the Children’s Act or Maintenance Act respectively. The High Court however remains the upper Guardian of all children who are below 18 years of age.

Equality Court

The Equality Court hears matters relating to contraventions of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act and every Magistrate’s Court and High Court are also an Equality Court.

Commercial Crimes Court

The Commercial Crimes Court hears matters specifically related to commercial crimes or crimes of a commercial matter such as tax and organized financial theft related cases.

There are a multitude of courts in South Africa, with specific jurisdictions and which deal with very specific matters. Should you wish to institute action in a specific court or be uncertain of which court to approach, contact us so we may assist with your case and have it dealt with in the correct court.