NATIONAL NEWS - Lawyers in Limpopo have gone to court after the Judge President moved to strike all cases involving the Road Accident Fund (RAF) from the roll.
The battle between the fund and 103 private attorneys, whose contracts it earlier this year tried to terminate, continues to rage.
The High Court in Pretoria earlier this month delivered judgment on three separate applications to review a decision taken by the RAF to terminate the services of its panel attorneys from 1 June, in favour of its inhouse team to settle claims. This is a bid to cut costs.
The court ordered the attorneys be allowed to stay on for at least six months, so the RAF could “reconsider its position and retain the social responsibility net in place protecting the public”.
But the RAF has since launched an application for leave to appeal.
Judge President Ephraim Makgoba of the Limpopo division issued a directive on 8 June saying “with effect from Monday until further notice, there shall be no RAF matters placed on the roll”.
These arrangements were “due to the impasse which is still prevailing between the RAF and its panel attorneys”.
This prompted the Amalgamated Lawyers Association to on Saturday file an urgent application to suspend Makgoba’s directive pending a review.
“The directive does not even have a cut-off date as to for how long will this unfairness persist, save to say that it’s intended to give space to the RAF to put its house in order,” advocate Hulisani Munzhelele argued in the papers.
Munzhelele suggested the directive reflected a double standard and said it was “unheard of in the SA legal system that the court can descend into the arena of litigation … to accommodate a party whose house is not in order.”
“Banks are obtaining default judgments every day against defendants whose financial houses are not in order. The [Judge President] has never come to their rescue in this manner,” he claimed.
“The only difference between poor defendants who are pursued every day by the banks and the RAF is that the RAF is rich and able to communicate with judge presidents.”