Courts of Law Amendment Act in Effect

The Presidency

The Courts of Law Amendment Act, except for section 14, comes into effect on 1 August 2018.

Parliament passed the bill and sent it for assent in July 2017.

The act aims to amend the Magistrates’ Courts Act in order to, inter alia:

•    regulate the rescission of judgments where the judgment debt has been settled;
•    further regulate jurisdiction by consent of parties;
•    further regulate the payment of debts in instalments or otherwise;
•    further regulate consent to judgments and orders for the payment of judgment debts in instalments;
•    further regulate offers by judgment debtors after judgment;
•    further regulate the issuing of emoluments attachment orders;
•    further regulate debt collection proceedings pursuant to judgments granted by a court for a regional division;
•    further regulate the suspension of execution pursuant to payment of periodical instalments or consent to garnishee order;
•    further regulate the abandonment of judgments; and
•    provide for certain offences and penalties relating to judgments, emoluments attachment orders and instalment orders.

Section 14 deals with transitional provisions.

The proclamation was published in Government Gazette 41801.

Meanwhile, comment has been called on the Amended National Policy Framework on Child Justice.

The justice and constitutional development department published the policy framework in Gazette 41796.

According to the notice, the amended policy framework was tabled in parliament on 28 May 2018.

It flows from intensive consultation with role players in the child justice sector.

The Child Justice Act stipulates that the policy framework must be reviewed within three years of publication and at least once every five years thereafter.

The act aims to minimize children’s contact with the criminal justice system and use detention only as a measure of last resort.

The policy framework was first published in 2010.

It is an “overarching framework for the implementation of the Act with as aim to ensure a uniform, coordinated and co-operative approach and is supported by relevant national directives, standing instructions, standing operating procedures, guidelines, and circulars of the relevant Government Departments and Institutions concerned.”

The review process since 2013 uncovered various challenges in the implementation of the act including inadequate costing of the act’s provisions that led to implementation problems, no reliable and detailed data on the implementation of the act, incomplete information management systems and a shortage of properly skilled mental health practitioners.

Some of the issues covered in the amended policy framework include policy considerations for the implementation of the act, managing the flow of children through the system, maximum timeframes for management of cases and registers.

Key priority areas include building capacity in the sector, methods of securing attendance of children at preliminary inquiries, ensuring assessment of children, preliminary inquiries, diversion services, trials, sentencing and monitoring and evaluation.

Comment is invited until 7 September 2018.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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