LOWER COURT JUDICIARY, FREE STATE REGIONAL DIVISION
LOCAL PRACTICE DIRECTIVES WITH EFFECT FROM 1 OCTOBER 2015
- DOCUMENTS NEEDED WHEN ISSUING
- Divorce summonses
Marriage certificate (original or certified copy) (Practice Directives 6.2)
Birth certificates if there are minor children (original or certified copies)
Completed statistic form (new form circulated by Stats SA)
Deed of settlement if any
Pre-nuptial contract if any
- Civil summonses
Any agreement or document relied on the particulars of claim.
- ISSUING OF SUMMONSES
- Divorce summonses:
If there are minor children born from the marriage the original summons and 3 copies must be brought to issue. The court gives a copy of the summons and annexure A to the office of the family advocate.
If there are no minor children born from the marriage, the original and 2 summonses must be brought to issue.
- CIVIL SUMMONSES
The original summons along with a copy for every defendant named in the summons and a copy for the court file must be brought to issue.
- MOTION ROLL
Unopposed and opposed matters will be heard separately on dates determined by the Regional Court President. Magistrates will indicate available dates to the registrar. (Practice Directive 3.1)
The roll closes at 12h00 on Fridays. Once the court roll is closed parties or attorneys may not access the court file or insert and remove any documents from the court file. (Practice Directive 3.2)
- INDEXING AND PAGINATING
Each bundle of documents shall not exceed 100 pages. (Practice Directive 3.6)
Bundles of documents shall be indexed and the index must briefly describe each document. (Practice Directive 4.2.2)
Handwritten documents are to be typed and copied. Exceptions maybe considered for indigent litigants. (Practice Directive 3.7)
All documents must be properly paginated. (Practice Directive 3.8)
Indexing must be done before the roll closes. Once the roll closes the parties are not entitled to access the court file and may only insert or remove documents with the authorization of the presiding officer. (Practice Directive 3.2)
Attorneys may not lift files or records for indexing or any other purpose from the office of the registrar or assistant registrar. Any inspection of files or indexing must be done under the supervision of the registrar or assistant registrar. (Practice Directive 10)
- COURT ROLLS
Court rolls will be finalized and sent out on Fridays.
- FURNISHING COPIES OF RECORDS
When a copy of a record is requested by a state department or provincial administration for official purposes, the registrar or assistant registrar shall be allowed to make such copies. No court fees are payable for this purposes. (Civil Code 7.2)
If proceedings have been mechanically recorded and a state department or provincial department requests transcriptions, the transcription costs of the departmental transcription service provider shall be carried by the state department or provincial administrator. (Civil Code 7.3)
When a private attorney or party requests a copy of the record of court order, the following fees are payable:
(a) For every photocopy of an A4 size page or part thereof the charge shall be R0-60.
(b) For every printed copy of an A4 size page or part thereof R0-40.
These fees are payable at the cash hall and a receipt must be produced when collecting the requested documents. (Promotion of Access to Information Act Section 15(3)).
- COURT DATES
Court dates as allocated by magistrates are available on the notice board of the issuing office. Days which are full are also indicated as such on the notice board.
- REQUIREMENTS TO BE MET BEFORE PROCESS IS ISSUED
Every summons shall be signed by the plaintiff or attorney acting for the plaintiff. (Rule 5)
Every summons shall have the physical address of the plaintiff or attorney of the plaintiff for purposes of service. This address must be within 15km of the issuing court house unless there are less than 3 practicing attorneys within the jurisdiction of the court. (Rule 5)
All documents must be clearly typed and printed in black ink on white paper. (Rule 63)
Standard size A4 paper must be used. (Rule 63)
All documents may only be printed or typed on one side of the paper. (Rule 63)
- CITATION OF SUMMONSES AND PLEADINGS
The correct citation of headings must be used on all summonses and pleadings and notices, namely: IN THE REGIONAL COURT FOR THE REGIONAL DIVISION OF FREE STATE HELD AT …………. or IN DIE STREEKHOF VIR DIE STREEKAFDELING VAN VRYSTAAT GEHOU TE ………….. Summonses or pleadings with any other citation shall not be accepted and may be refused by the registrar or assistant registrar – (Practice Directive 9.3)
- CASE NUMBERS
The format for case numbers in the regional court for divorce cases is FS…./RD____/20 _____ and for civil cases the format is FS…../RC_____/20____. Pleadings with any other format shall not be accepted and may be refused by the registrar or assistant registrar.
- SET DOWN OF TRIAL
A trial of an action shall be subject to the delivery by the plaintiff, after the pleadings have been closed, of a notice of trial for a day/days approved by the registrar or assistant registrar Rule 22 (1).
Delivery of notice of set down shall be effected at least 20 days before the day so approved Rule 22 (3).
In divorce actions the registrar of the court shall at the written request of the plaintiff set the action down for hearing at the time and place and on a date to be fixed by the registrar if the defendant has:
- Failed to deliver notice of intention to defend;
- Failed to deliver a plea after receiving a notice of bar in terms of Rule 12 (1)(b); or
- Given written notice to the plaintiff and registrar that he does not intend to defend the action.
Rule 22 (5)
When an undefended divorce action is postponed the action may be continued before another court notwithstanding that evidence has been given Rule 22(6).
If the summons in an undefended divorce case was served on the defendant more than 6 months before the date of hearing, the notice of set down must be served on the plaintiff and defendant or that the plaintiff satisfy the court by other means that the defendant is aware that the case will be heard on a particular day – Rule 6.1.4.
- PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE
All defended matters shall be enrolled for a pre-trial conference before the trial commences.
One of the parties or the legal representatives of the parties may request in duplicate to the registrar or assistant registrar that a pre-trial conference to be held. The matters which the requestor desires to be addressed at the pre-trial conference shall be indicated in the request – Rule 25 (1).
The process for attendance of parties or their legal representation at a pre-trial conference shall be by letter signed by the registrar or assistant registrar , with a copy of the request, if any, which letter shall be delivered at least 10 days prior to the date fixed for the pre-trial conference – Rule 25 (3)
If any party fails to attend a pre-trial conference after notice has duly been given to such party, a minute to that affect shall be filed by the party who did attend the pre-trial conference – Practice directive 4.4.3
On the morning of the hearing, where both parties are represented, the practitioners appearing for both parties must report in chambers to the magistrate hearing the trail to present a signed copy of any further conference minutes and in order to hear any suggestions the magistrate may have which could curtail the duration of the trial.
The content of the pre-trial minutes may be material to the exercise of the court’s discretion in regard to costs.
The minutes of the pre-trial conference must be a full record of the matters discussed at every stage and must include matters on which agreements have been reached and also requests of one party and the replies of the others relating to matters where there is no agreement. The minutes should not include requests for particulars or replies to interrogatories.
If the parties agree that certain issues be tried separately, this must be stated in the minutes. The parties must state which issues they want tried first but the court is not necessarily bound by such agreement.
Where possible, the same presiding officer that chairs the pre-trial conference should preside over the trial – Practice directive 4.4.5
A trial date must be arranged with the magistrate at the pre-trial conference.
- REPORTS/ENDORSEMENTS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE FAMILY ADVOCATE
When a case is postponed to a date determined by the magistrate, or is enrolled for a certain date, the report/endorsement from the office of the family advocate must be submitted and put in the court file at least 5 court days before the date of set down.
The report/endorsement should not be older than six (6) months.
- DECREES OF DIVORCE
- Decrees of divorce will be posted to the parties by the registrar/assistant registrar. Certified copies of the decrees of the divorce will be sent to the legal representatives of the parties, if any.
- Assistant registrars in Welkom, Kroonstad and Bethlehem must send certified copies of the divorce decrees to the office of the Registrar, Bloemfontein for her/his records.
- Assistant registrars must send copies of the divorce decrees, statistics forms and marriage certificates to the Department of Home Affairs and Statistics South Africa respectively once the decree of divorce has been issued.
- CIVIL STATISTICS
Assistant Registrars must furnish the office of the Registrar with monthly statistics pertaining to the number of applications enrolled, those finalised and outstanding ones.