Rule 41A: Formalising the Role of Mediation in High Court
In December 2019, the Rules Board for Courts of Law of the Republic of South Africa proposed the High Court Uniform Rule 41A. The Rule was gazetted on 7 February 2020 (page 31) and comes into effect on 9 March 2020. The rule is expected to change South Africa's litigation system, putting mediation in the spotlight as the mainstream mechanism for resolving disputes. FHBC identified some highlights of what High Court Rule 41A entails:
Parties are required to specifically indicate whether they consider mediation to be possible (or not, along with reasons for either consideration) when issuing summons or when delivering a plea.The parties have to deliver a joint minute, documenting their mutual agreement that the dispute may be referred to mediation.While mediation is in progress, time limits to deliver pleadings are suspended.Where multiple parties are involved in the litigation process, it will be possible for only some of the parties to proceed to mediation.The confidentiality and admissibility of documents is taken into consideration.A joint memorandum indicating the outcome of the mediation must be submitted.Cost orders may be given for the costs of the mediation proceedings.Rule 41A is not specific to any type of dispute, but applies to all disputes brought before the High Court.