There are several courts in South Africa.
The courts of first instance and their jurisdictions are as follows:

  • Small claims court: R0 – R6 000.00.
  • Magistrates Court: R0 – R100 000.00.
  • Regional Court: R100 000.00 – R300 000.00.
  • High Court: Any amount.

Small Claims Court
If the value of your loss is less than R6 000.00, you may claim from the small claims court.
Attorneys are not permitted to assist claimants in the Small Claims Court. The courts have paralegals that will assist you with the process.

Magistrates Court
Unless the parties have agreed to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court, the capital sum of claim instituted in that court may not exceed R100 000.00. Regional Court, which are part of the Magistrates Court but are geared to deal with higher value claims.

High Court
If you wish to claim in excess of R300 000.00 you must claim in the High Court.
In the event that you need to claim in the Magistrates Court or the High Court, you are enabled, by the process, to run your own case, and to represent yourself in court. This is not advised – there are many tricks and techniques which will trip up even an inexperienced attorney, not to mention lay person representing himself.

The steps in litigation can be briefly summarized as follows:

  • State your case – the Plaintiff will set out the basis of his claim in a document called a summons and particulars of claim.
  • Plea – The other Defendant answers the allegations contained in the particulars of claim by either denying or admitting them.
  • Obtain a trial date.
  • If necessary consult experts to assess aspects of your case to assist in proof.
  • Exchange of documents and notice of experts to prove the respective parties’ claims.
  • Prepare for trial – discuss issues in dispute and try to settle.
  • Go to Trial and present evidence.

Trial dates are often allocated for a date in the distant future, i.e. Some 12 – 24 months after date of plea. Although this is often an excessive delay, it does allow for proper assessment if the injures or issues at hand are extensive or complex.

What if I can’t afford an attorney?
You have three options if you can’t afford an attorney:

  • Represent yourself.
  • See if you qualify for Legal Aid.
  • Find an attorney who will take on your case on contingency. In assessing whether to assist you on contingency, the attorney will consider the following:
    • Amount of your claim.
    • Your chances of success.
    • The ability of the wrongdoer (person who will be sued) to pay the amount of your claim.

It is without reservation that we advise that you are better off with a lawyer than without one.

Contact Details

Phone Phone: (012) 809 1588
Fax Fax: (0) 86 603 0097
WWW Link Website:
Address: Block 2, Lombardy Business Park,
Cnr Cole & Graham Rds, Lombardy , Pretoria