Title page for ETD etd-09052011-144709

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Van Wyk, Jani Sita
Email janivnwyk@gmail.com
URN etd-09052011-144709
Document Title The need and requirements for a class action in South African law with specific reference to the prerequisites for locus standi in iudicio
Degree LLM
Department Procedural Law
Advisor Name Title
Prof A Boraine Supervisor
  • common law
  • South African civil procedural law
  • dominus litis
  • locus standi in iudicio
Date 2011-04-11
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation purports to set out the requirements for locus standi in terms of section 38 of the Constitution, specifically when it comes to procuring standing in matters brought by way of a class action. In order to answer the question it is also necessary to look at the need for a class action procedure in the South African civil procedural law as this explains the courts' expansive approach in granting members and representatives standing before a court, specifically in cases where the common law traditional rules of standing and joinder would not suffice.

Locus standi is concerned with the capability of an entity to be a participant in a matter before a court of law, having due regard to the applicability of the point in issue to the person of the litigant and its faculty to litigate. In accordance with common law prescriptions, locus standi of prospective litigants to obtain legal relief only accrues to those that have personally suffered harm or would suffer harm through the violation or threatened violation of their legally enforceable rights. In contrast to the above the procedural measures contained in section 38 of the Final Constitution of 1996 allow for representative actions to be brought on behalf of adversely affected parties where the dominus litis is not necessarily the violated party as well as the recipient of the fruits of successful adjudication.

Sections 38(c) and (d) of the Final Constitution of 1996 established inter alia class actions and public interest litigation by expanding the common law mandated categories of persons capable of instituting legal proceedings.

This dissertation researched the need for a procedural device such as the class action in a specific South African milieu characterised by inopportune social and economic circumstances. The class action is specifically engineered to accommodate large numbers of affected parties that do not need to be joined in a traditional manner. Judicial recognition of the benefits of the class action from a South African point of view must necessarily take into account the social and economic circumstances of the members in whose favour the procedure are implemented. Apart from the procedural advantages, this particular process provides for a diminishing effect of factors such as low income, lack of legal knowledge, lack of funds for legal assistance and nominal pecuniary claims that prevent litigants from vindicating their rights and approaching the courts single handed.

The requirements for locus standi under the constitutional dispensation, with specific reference to the generous judicial approach to matters, specifically where fundamental rights are violated or threatened, were examined. It is submitted that these requirements will be of assistance when the citation of the parties is to be drafted.

In order to institute action in terms of one or more subsections, a prospective litigant need to show that a right enshrined in the Bill of Rights have been encroached upon as well as sufficient interest in the relief sought.

Some aspects related to locus standi but not necessary for procurement of standing were researched in order to contextualise the setting for the use of section 38 procedural measures. There are currently no formal requirements that litigating class or group members have to comply with. The lack of statutory regulatory sources has forced South African courts with inherent jurisdiction to create guidelines regarding the practical aspects of class action litigation. Unfortunately the judicial intervention in creating practical directives for prospective and current litigants to follow has not occurred without mishap.

Even though the question of whether the class action procedure is the suitable method to adjudicate the matter does not have a direct bearing on the standing of a party, it is an important aspect to consider when one evaluated possible courses of action. The correct procedure is invaluable when the court is asked to grant parties leave to litigate in accordance with the class action procedure. From a procedural point of view, the court must assist in directing parties as to the preferred manner to proceed with the matter. It was found that the courts have mistakenly held that compliance with certain unique procedures specific to class actions is necessary in order to procure locus standi.

Even though an extended application of section 38(c) is favoured, any consideration thereof must take the express introduction by way of legislation into account that sets out the practical aspects of this mechanism. In the socio–economic state of affairs currently prevailing in South Africa, the high costs of legal assistance, countered with the complexity of procuring state provided legal aid, deters many a plaintiff to obtain civil justice. In this respect it can be said that the adjudicative approach of group action proceedings should accommodate a contextualized social setting. The goal is ultimately to expound a device suited and shaped to accommodate both the legal and extra–curial settings of South Africa.

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Van Wyk, JS 2010, The need and requirements for a class action in South African law with specific reference to the prerequisites for locus standi in iudicio, LLM dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09052011-144709/ >


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