A recent amendment made by the Rules Board for Court of Law will now mean that South Africans will have to ensure and declare that they have made use of mediation before finally settling a matter in court. In essence, this will mean that a litigation process must be followed before a lawsuit can proceed.

Mediation is known as both a time saving and cost effective way of solving disputes. The process involves appointing a neutral third party person to act as a mediator in order to facilitate a compromise or agreed settlement.

The mediator typically will facilitate meetings between the parties, and help them with clarifying their priorities, identify issues, and negotiate compromises.

Published in the Government Gazette on February 7, 2020, the changes will be in effect as of March 9.

As reported by BusinessTech, PJ Veldhuizen, managing director of law firm Gillan and Veldhuizen, said that if mediation has not been considered, the court can recommend mediation before dealing with the case.

“Following countries such as the USA, UK and Australia, South Africa has recognised mediation as an effective method of resolving differences,” he said. “Recent case law in the UK has set out that ADR should be strongly encouraged and prescribes when ADR is an appropriate mechanism. Furthermore, attorneys and litigants who ignore this Rule will do so at their peril and may find themselves on the receiving end of a costs order.”

Veldman also believes the new rule will create less pressure on the country’s courts and lower the cost of legal representation.

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