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Small Claims Court jurisdiction reviewed to $300 000

by Staff reporter
28 Oct 2020 at 06:27hrs | Views
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has with immediate effect increased the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Courts to $300 000 from $1 000. The move is aimed at decongesting the Magistrate Courts. Early this month, the Ministry upped the Magistrates Court jurisdiction from $300 000 to $3 million.

According to Statutory Instrument 247 of 2020, Small Courts Claims (Jurisdiction) Notice 2020, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi repealed SI 36 of 2016.

"The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in terms of section 11 (3) of the Small Claims Courts Act and after consultation with the Chief Justice hereby makes the following notice. Section 11 of the Small Claims Courts Act (Chapter 7: 12) is amended in subsection (1) by the deletion of "one thousand United States dollars" wherever it occurs and the substitution of 'three hundred thousand RTGS dollars'," he said.

The development has been hailed by members of the legal fraternity who said the purpose of Small Claims Courts is to enhance efficiency in the disposal of matters without resorting to the long, winding formalities that apply at the Magistrates and High Courts.

Gweru lawyer Mrs Takashinga Pamacheche-Mubonesi of Fundy, Dube and Pamacheche Legal Practitioners said the Small Claims Courts' new jurisdiction allows a litigant a quicker resolution of their matter thereby minimising the cost of litigation.

"The raising of the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court was necessary considering that the Magistrates Courts jurisdiction has also been reviewed. There now has to be utilisation of these courts by the populace for them to serve their purpose," she said.

Mrs Pamacheche-Mubonesi said with the informality and the less protractive process at the Small Claims Court, more cases will be finalised fast thereby allowing better access to justice. The Small Claims Courts, she said, may cease to be small considering the volume of cases and sums claimed going forward.

"The Courts will however need to guard against being clogged with frivolous cases due to ease of access," she said.

Another lawyer Mr Esau Mandipa of Mutatu and Mandipa Legal Practice said the advantage to litigants is that since the Small Claims Court's jurisdiction has been increased to $300 000, a lot of people with claims within that limit can now easily access justice.

"The main advantage with the Small Claims Court, he said is that it follows very simplified and easy procedures compared to the Magistrates Court and the superior courts where formalised and sometimes complicated legal procedures have to be adhered to."

"So, litigants who cannot afford legal representation can now easily approach the Small Claims Courts as long as their claims are within the $300 000 limit.

"In addition, the increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court also lessens the burden on Magistrates Court in that all civil claims within the limit of $300 000 will now be handled by the Small Claims Court.

"That reduces the backlog at the Magistrates Court. It is therefore a commendable stance to have the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court increased," he said.



Source - chronicle

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