TRIBUNALS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Tribunals – A tribunal is defined as a court of justice or a body established to settle certain types of disputes.
When someone hears the word tribunal or tribunals one may automatically think of the courts that we have in South Africa. However, there are other smaller courts that settle certain specific types of disputes in an informal and cost effective manner.
South Africa has the following tribunals:
- The Competition Tribunal
- The Companies Tribunal
- The Rental Housing Tribunal
- The Provident Fund Adjudicator and
- The National Consumer Tribunal.
THE COMPETITION TRIBUNAL
One of the available tribunals is the The Competition Tribunal, who adjudicates competition matters in accordance with the Competition Act 89 of 1998 (as amended). The Tribunal has jurisdiction throughout South Africa. The Tribunal adjudicates complaints of prohibited practices namely restrictive practices and abuse of dominance.
The Competition Tribunal has jurisdiction to do the following:
- Impose a remedy;
- Award costs;
- Grant an order for interim relief;
- Authorize or prohibit a large merger; and
- Adjudicate appeals from the Competition Commission relating to intermediate mergers and exemptions.
How to lodge a complaint:
The Competition Commission or any private party can file a complaint with the Tribunal. However, in the case of a private party, it can only file a complaint with the Tribunal after the Competition Commission has investigated the complaint and decided to issue a notice of non-referral. When a private party files a complaint with the Tribunal the complainant must complete a Form CT1 (2), with an affidavit and supporting documents. The form must be filed with the Tribunal to get a date stamp and a case number after which it must be served on all the respondents and the Commission.
1st Floor, Mulayo, The DTI Campus
77 Meintjjies Street,
Tel: +27 (12) 394 3300
Fax: +27 (12) 394 0169
THE COMPANIES TRIBUNAL
Another of the available tribunals is The Companies Tribunal, who is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry established in terms of the Companies Act 71 of 2008. The Tribunal has jurisdiction throughout South Africa and adjudicates on company disputes.
The Tribunal adjudicates on the following matters:
- Company name disputes;
- Directorship disputes;
- Exemption from establishing social and ethics committees;
- Review of compliance notices issued by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC);
- Extension of time to prepare annual financial statements;
- Extension of time to convene the AGM; and
- Review of CIPC decisions.
- An Individual, a Company and also the Companies and Intellectual Property Commissions (CIPC) or the Takeover Regulation Panel, can refer a dispute to the Tribunal.
- Where an individual has referred a dispute, the said individual will have to fill in a CTR 132.1 form and file it with the Registrar.
- Where a dispute is referred by CIPC or the Takeover Regulation Panel, the said party would have to fill in a CTR 132.2 form and file it with the Registrar.
- Once the relevant document has been properly completed and filed, it must then be served on the Respondent within 5 working days of it being filed. Notice of the hearing is then given and a hearing will be held in terms of the Companies Act.
The Tribunal applies alternative dispute resolution methods. These methods include mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
During Mediation, the parties make presentations before the Tribunals and the Tribunal only assists the parties to find a commonly acceptable resolution. It is important to note that the Tribunal does not impose a settlement at this stage.
During Conciliation, the Tribunal impartially facilitates and encourages parties to find a resolution.
During Arbitration, the parties make representations similar to the first two processes. The difference with arbitration is that the Tribunal issues an arbitration award that is binding and final. The award can be reviewed in the High Court.
3rd Floor, Mulayo, The DTI Campus
77 Meintjjies Street,
Tel: +27 (12) 394 3071/5553
Fax: +27 (12) 394 4071
THE RENTAL HOUSING TRIBUNAL
This is one of those handy tribunals to have on speed dial of you are a tenant. The Rental Housing Tribunal is a statutory body established in terms of the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 (as amended). The Tribunal has jurisdiction throughout South Africa and adjudicates on disputes between tenants and property owners.
The Tribunal adjudicates on the following matters:
- Non-payment of rentals;
- Failure to refund deposits;
- Leases that are not in full compliance with the law;
- Rights and duties of the landlords and tenants;
- Lack of maintenance to the dwelling;
- Service cuts-offs without a court order;
- Damage to property;
- Harassment and intimidation;
- Threats, lock outs, illegal evictions without a court order;
- Spoliation, attachment orders and interdicts;
Any tenant, property owner, group of tenants or property owners or interested group may lodge a complaint with the Tribunal concerning an unfair practice. Complaints must be lodged on the prescribed complaint form that can be obtained from the Rental Housing Tribunal, established Information Offices or on the website of the Rental Housing Tribunal. As from the date of the complaint having been lodged with the Tribunal, until the Tribunal has made a ruling on the matter or a period of three months has elapsed, the landlord may not evict any tenant and the tenant must continue to pay rental payable in respect of that dwelling as applicable prior to the complaint.
The lodging of a complaint with the Tribunal involves a seven-step process, which is as follows:
- A file is opened for each complaint and the particulars of the complainant(s) and the respondent(s) are entered into a register;
- A letter is sent to all parties informing them of the particulars of the complaint that has been lodged;
- The Tribunal will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether the complaint relates to a dispute in respect of a matter which may constitute an unfair practice;
- Mediation is scheduled to try to resolve the matter, if there is no agreement between the parties during the mediation proceeding then the matter is referred to the Tribunal hearing.
- During the Tribunal hearing, a ruling is given which is binding to both parties.
- A ruling by the Tribunal is tantamount to an order of a Magistrate’s Court in terms of the Magistrates’ Court Act and is enforced in terms of that Act.
- If a person feels dissatisfied with the proceedings of the tribunal, he/she can take the matter for review before the High Court within its area of jurisdiction.
Please note that an offence or a contravention against the Tribunal is punishable by a fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
GAUTENG RENTAL HOUSING TRIBUNAL
1066 Old Mutual Building
No.35 Pritchard Street
Tel: +27 (11) 630 5035/ 36/ 37/ 48/ 49
+27 (11) 630 5051/ 53/ 54/ 55
+27 (11) 630 5071/ 32/ 25
Fax: +27 (11) 630 5057/ 52
THE PROVIDENT FUND ADJUDICATOR
The Provident Fund Adjudicator is a specialized tribunal established in terms of the Provident Fund Act 24 of 1956. The Adjudicator investigates and determines complaints of abuse of power, maladministration, disputes of fact or law and employer negligence of duty in respect of pension funds. The Adjudicator only investigates complaints in relation to pension funds registered in terms of the Pension Funds Act, pension funds includes Provident Funds, Retirement Annuity Funds and Preservation Funds. The outcome made by the Adjudicator is equivalent to civil judgments in the court of law.
The Provident Fund Act determines that only the following can lodge a complaint:
- A beneficiary or former beneficiary of a fund;
- Any group of the above;
- An employer who participates in a fund;
- The Board of Management of a fund, or any member of the board.
Before one can submit a complaint at the Provident Fund Adjudicator, they must first try to address the complaint to the party against whom he/she is complaining. After 30 days of non-response or after receiving an unsatisfactory response, the complainant may then lodge his/her complaint with the Adjudicator.
There is no prescribed format that one must follow in setting out the complaint. It is, however, important that all the required information be set out clearly and thoroughly.
The procedure for dealing with complaints is as follows:
- On receipt of the complaint, it will be registered and allocated a reference number.
- The complaint will be assessed in order to determine whether the Pension Funds Adjudicator has jurisdiction (legal mandate) to adjudicate the type of issue.
- If the Adjudicator lacks jurisdiction, a letter will be addressed to the complainant referring him/her to the correct legal entity.
- Should the matter fall within the jurisdiction of the Pension Funds Adjudicator, the complaint shall be forwarded to the party or parties against whom the complaint is raised to respond within 30 days.
- On receipt of the response, the complainant shall be granted an opportunity to comment on the response by submitting a reply letter.
- An assessment shall be conducted to determine whether the dispute can be resolved through a conciliation hearing with an independent Conciliator, if so, it shall be allocated for a conciliation hearing and the parties shall be informed accordingly by a letter.
- If the conciliation is unsuccessful or the dispute is not suitable for a conciliation it shall be forwarded to the adjudication team for an investigation on the factual and legal issues as contained in the submitted documents.
- A draft document with the findings and recommendations shall be forwarded to the Adjudicator or Deputy Adjudicator to make a ruling (i.e. the determination).
- The signed outcome with reasons is sent to the parties.
- Any party, who feels that the outcome is not in accordance with the law, can approach the High Court with a formal application to have the determination reviewed.
Riverwalk Office Park
Block A, 4th Floor
41 Matroosberg Road
Tel: +27 (12) 346 1738/ +27 (12) 748 4000
Fax: +27 (86) 693 7472
THE NATIONAL CONSUMER TRIBUNAL
The National Consumer Tribunal was established in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. The Tribunal adjudicates on prohibited practice made in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008. Decisions by the Tribunal are equivalent to those made by the High Courts of South Africa.
The parties that can bring disputes before the Tribunal are:
- The National Credit Regulator;
- Credit providers;
- Debt counsellors; and
- Credit bureaux.
Within 20 business days of a decision being made by the Credit Regulator or within 20 business days of the failure of attempting alternative dispute resolution, an application can be lodged to the Tribunal. However, an application can also be lodged at a later stage, provided it has been approved by the Tribunal on good cause shown.
A Credit provider and a Consumer may approach the Tribunal directly, only after they have attempted to resolve the issue between themselves but had failed to reach a resolution. If this fails, the Consumer may refer the matter either to the Ombudsman that has jurisdiction, only if the credit provider is a financial institution. However, in any other cases the consumer may refer the matter to a consumer court or alternative dispute resolution agent.
The Tribunal is not one of first instance, except for in the following instances:
- When the National Credit Regulator issues a notice of non-referral if the complaint appears to be frivolous or vexatious, or does not allege any facts which, if true, would constitute grounds for remedy under the National Credit Act;
- When, after completing an investigation into a complaint, the National Credit Regulator decided not to refer the matter;
- At any time, whether or not a hearing has commenced into a complaint, a complainant may apply to the Tribunal for interim (urgent) relief;
- Consumers can apply for orders:
- To compel a credit provider to produce a statement of account;
- For a credit provider to compensate a consumer after the sale of surrendered goods;
- For a pawnbroker to compensate a consumer for goods left with a pawnbroker;
- To review the sale of goods; and
- To review the decision of a debt counsellor not to issue a clearance certificate in terms of Section 71(3).
The steps to be followed when lodging a complaint with the Tribunal are as follows:
- Identify and fill in relevant form for the application;
- Provide required documents;
- Pay required fee where necessary;
- Notify affected parties of application;
- Serve documents on affected parties and acquire proof of service; and
- File with the Tribunal.
East Wing, Building B
Lakefield Office Park
272 West Avenue
Tel: +27 (12) 683 8140
Fax: +27 (12) 663 5693
Competition Act 89 of 1998 (As Amended)
Companies Act 71 of 2008