Review Time Periods-Don’t let time kill your redress rights

by Golekanye G. Rabasha.

Jan 17, 2023

If you are dissatisfied with: (a) a decision of an administrative organ, quasi-judicial (seemingly-judicial) organ or judicial organ that decided your matter; or (b) the decision of a court (customary or magistrate court) that convicted or sentenced for a criminal charge, you have to act timeously. If you want to have either type of decision “reviewed” (not appealed), you have to approach the High Court within a set time. Otherwise, you will be shut out (time-barred) and prevented from seeking such redress at the High Court. This would be so irrespective of the substantive merits of your case.

Civil or non-criminal decision reviews periods
Time-period for reviewing decisions of administrative, quasi-judicial or judicial organs deciding (non-criminal) matters were not stipulated before 2011. But in 2011 when the current Rules of the High Court were made, a time period was set. Before then, courts only required one to approach the high court within a reasonable period of time. And under that regime, one could get away with a period of one (1) year. But since 2011 non-criminal case challenges have to be instituted within four (4) months of the handing down of the decision complained of. This requirement is stated in rule 8 of the Rules of the High Court.

Hence, if you want to have that: land board; compulsory taking (expropriation); mining authority; energy (electricity or petroleum industry authorizations) authority; water authority(board); planning authority, any licensing/authorization authority; government-employer; education, trade (authorization), government sports authority etc. decision reviewed, you have to act within the 4-month period.  But as a sector -legislation or related legislation may set other time periods, look to see what that legislation stipulates. If one fails to act within 4 months or other stipulated time one risks the High Court telling them that “you sat on your rights” and you are time-barred.

Criminal- decision review periods
Criminal appeals have always been required to be instituted within 14 days of the decision in terms of the Rules of the High Court. But no time limits were set for applications for review in criminal cases. But now a specific time period has been prescribed. In 2021, the Rules of the High Court were amended. There are several amendments, but only one is relevant for our purposes. This is the amendment of Order 61.  A new Rule 9 has been added. The Rule 9 now requires potential review seekers to notify and require the decision-maker (for instance the Magistrate) to show cause why their decision should not be reviewed. Importantly, the new rule 8G says that one must seek review at the High Court within 120 days. This translates to 4 months. 

If one wants to have either the non-criminal decision with which they are aggrieved or a decision in a criminal case reviewed and reversed, one has to do so within 4 months or 120 days.

Although one must not litigate unnecessarily especially where there are no real prospects of success;  if one has to seek a review one has to act within the set times.

If you desire clarification on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at our addresses and or numbers.

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