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A Pretoria-based law firm, Gert Nel Incorporated, has been waiting for a response from the Constitutional Court of South Africa regarding a constitutional challenge. The application was filed in December to access the highest court directly, and it involves the legality of court directives that legal practitioners must follow to obtain court dates for their clients in claims against the Road Accident Fund (RAF). Gert Nel, the head of the law firm, stated that these directives have caused hurdles that lead to delays in the handling of cases. Claimants have to wait years before their cases are heard by the court, and some Gauteng High Court cases have a backlog that only allows new cases to receive trial dates in 2026. Nel believes that if left unchecked, the high court will collapse.

Although 10 respondents were included in the court papers, only four, including the RAF, have indicated that they will oppose the application. However, none of them have yet filed opposing court papers. The minister of justice and the minister of transport have not yet stated whether they will oppose the application. The Office of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has yet to provide directives, but the deadline for filing opposing papers is approaching. Gert Nel Incorporated wrote a letter to the office of the chief justice requesting directives on the hearing of the matter. The firm is concerned that it is an uphill battle for them to obtain trial dates in RAF matters, and the backlog of outstanding court dates continues to grow.

Nel claims that the scarcity of trial dates has resulted in court officials placing or removing matters at their discretion from the roll, despite practitioners having exercised due diligence in securing the dates. In one case, a court official removed a matter from the roll due to a digit issue on a case number, even though the law firm had waited for years to have its day in court. This case pertains to a woman who suffered an amputation in an accident in September 2016. Summons was served in February 2018, and since then, all reasonable attempts have been made to secure a trial date and settlement on behalf of the client. She had to wait two more years for her day in court because the court rolls were fully booked until 2025. Eventually, the matter was placed back on the roll. However, Nel believes that the Concourt challenge is crucial because it calls for a formal investigation into the administration of the court roll. He hopes that the application will be heard as soon as possible since each day that passes reduces victims’ chances of achieving financial, physical, and mental rehabilitation.