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Vexatious Proceedings

The courts of our land are there to serve our citizens, and their needs, when it comes to the enforcement of rights, resolving disputes, their protection, and so on. But there are only so many courts, staffed by a limited number of judges and magistrates. They have only so many hours in a day to get through the thousands of these kinds of cases all awaiting their attention. Our judicial officers do not have time to waste.

By the same token, citizens (and their companies) have a right not to be repeatedly sued by someone who carries a grudge, or who simply wants to harass them. Vexatious litigation is not what the courts are for.

The Vexatious Proceedings Act 19561 gives the High Court the power to impose restrictions (even absolutely) on the institution of these kinds of proceedings.2

  1. If an order has been granted by the High Court forbidding you from launching legal proceedings, it is an offence to do so without first obtaining permission from the court.3
  1. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 49 of 1996. 

  2. There are some interesting cases in this regard. More recently, in 2008, Mr Dumisa Dlamini was interdicted by the court from launching any more proceedings against ABSA. In 2007 alone, he launched 40 cases against ABSA, all based on a complaint which, in fact, had already been settled. (The case is reported in the South African Law Reports as ABSA Bank Ltd v Dlamini 2008 (2) SA 262 (T).) This almost beats the Australian case of Dominic Wy Kanak, who sued 49 times in respect of the Olympic beach volleyball stadium at Bondi, New South Wales. (See Wikipedia.org/wiki/vexatious-litigation.) Kanak was, nevertheless – or, perhaps, as a result – elected as a Councillor in the local Waverley Municipality, Sydney. 

  3. Section 2(4) read with section 2(1).