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How Gauteng High Court plans to deal with COVID-19 outbreak

All other matters will be postponed if all parties agree in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

FILE: Judge President Dustan Mlambo delivering judgment in the Pretoria High Court. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo on Monday said the court would only deal with matters that were already enrolled for hearing.

All other matters would be postponed if all parties agree in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Save for urgent court matters, judges and staff will deal only with matters that are already enrolled for hearing; provided that parties may agree to postpone matters (including unopposed matters) that have been enrolled during this period. In such event, parties must alert the relevant judge’s secretary of any agreed postponement as a matter of urgency,” Mlambo said in a directive issued to all judges, court staff, practitioners and the public.

“Parties in matters that have been postponement under this directive may approach the Judge President for an expedited date for a new hearing.”

The order said that no member of the public was permitted to enter the court building, whether civil or criminal, as a spectator.

“No member of the public is permitted to enter the court building, or to attend any hearings, whether civil or criminal, as a spectator. Only practitioners, witnesses, and accused persons are permitted to attend.”

Mlambo said judges who are not scheduled for sittings in court were required to work from home.

Further restrictions to access to the court included:

• In respect of matters that have already been initiated by way of a paper file (rather than Caselines), practitioners must correspond with the Registrar’s Office by email for directions as to the filing of all further notices, pleadings, heads of argument etc. through Caselines [paperless digital court system].

• Enrolment of new matters may only be done via Caselines.

• Counsel are advised not to attend judges’ chambers for purposes of introductions. All introductions are suspended. Judges will not shake hands with any practitioners.

• When a judge is working from home, s/he should make a determination, based on the nature of the work to be done, whether his/her secretary may also work from home. In that event, the Judge President must be advised accordingly, and Judges’ Secretaries must remain available and accessible to carry out whatever duties may be required from home, including monitoring and responding to emails, maintaining telephone contact with practitioners etc...

• Individual case managements should be conducted by teleconference/Skype per arrangement between the parties and the appointed judge.

• As regards general court staff, all section heads must determine the minimum number of staff (rotationally or otherwise) who must continue to report for work to ensure that the general work of the court is not compromised.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.