The Supreme Court in South Africa has jurisdiction in Civil matters in the excess of R 400 000,00. The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to a person’s status, for example insolvency and only the Supreme Court can grant a divorce order or an interdict.

As a litigant, you are always free to approach a Supreme Court directly.  Judges discourage litigants skipping Magistrates Courts by only allowing costs on the Magistrates Court scale as this could flood the High Courts.  While the Magistrates Court is a “creature of statute” and its processes are governed by the Magistrates Court Act and its Rules of Court, the High Court has what we call “inherent” jurisdiction to hear whatever matter it wishes to hear barring those matters which it is not permitted to entertain.

The motion proceeding is a shorter process than the action proceeding. In the motion proceeding the matter is decided on the affidavits submitted by both the parties and oral evidence is not necessary at the hearing. Summons is issued when there is a possibility of a fact dispute and verbal evidence will be necessary at the trial.

In the motion proceedings the parties are referred to as the Applicant and Respondent and in action proceedings the parties are referred to as the Plaintiff and Defendant.

The litigation process regarding the aforementioned gets instituted by the issuing of a Notice of Motion with a supporting affidavit or a Summons with particulars of claim with the Registrar of the Court. The Registrar will allocate a case number to the matter where after the Notice of Motion or Summons is served on the opponent.

The Respondent or Defendant may oppose the action proceedings by delivering a notice of intention to defend or a notice of intention to oppose.

Litigation is a timeously process due to the fact that the parties have to exchange the necessary pleadings and only after the last pleading has been served can either of the parties apply for a court date.

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