We at SSLR Inc. are not only dedicated to property law, but dedicated to you our clients, our staff, our families, the South African community and humanity as a whole.
The present COVID-19 pandemic has presented us, at SSLR with an opportunity to do our part in combating the current crisis, while we continue to ensure that we passionately provide superior legal services and advise to the property industry at large.
We feel strongly that you, our valued client must be kept abreast of developments within the legal sphere during these uncertain times. Evictions can continue – even new proceedings may be instituted.
An urgent directive from the Office of the Judge President was issued on 17 March 2020, and is attached hereunder for your convenience, in which the following should be noted (please note this is in respect of the High Courts only at this stage):
- Only those matters which are already enrolled, save for those matters which are urgent, will be dealt with at this stage at the court building itself;
- No practitioner, messenger or member of the public may enter the court building to issue a new process, however new processes may be instituted via the judicial online system (“Caselines”);
- General Court staff are still working in order to ensure that the general work of the Court is not compromised at this stage.
While no formal directive has been given in respect of all Magistrates Courts at the time of writing, each Magistrates Court has taken steps in order to ensure that they are protecting our attorneys at Court. We have experienced that this includes additional sanitisation steps upon entering court, prevention of certain members of the public from entering the Court and the extension of available dates for hearing to minimize foot traffic within the Courts during this period.
Chief Justice Mogoeng furthermore, in a press conference earlier this week, when asked specifically on the issue of evictions, confirmed that the ordinary process required, for an eviction order to be granted involves judicial oversite. Meaning at this stage there is no restriction on eviction orders. Please appreciate that the evictions that will have to be instituted at this point is due to tenants being in breach, prior to the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
As SSLR we want to ensure that all landlords have access to specialist eviction attorneys at a rate that is affordable to them, considering the current state of disaster. For this reason, we offer all clients a 20% discount on fees for new eviction instructions. We can institute the process even in the current state of disaster. Should the Court request us to hold proceedings at a later stage, you will still be in a better position because a postponement simply means that the process is held for a while, but you will then be ahead of the curb once the Courts uplift any restrictions.
For our existing clients, the same will apply, unfortunately we cannot apply this retrospectively, however all future invoices on evictions will have the same 20% discount. We are committed to help landlords stay in the strongest possible position regarding cashflow in a situation where you might need to allow your good paying tenants rental holidays and implement similar measures to help tenants in this difficult time.
What this means for you, our client is that, while we will do our upmost to work around the temporary restrictions implemented, the Courts are still functioning and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure we provide the best service to you. As always evictions are a process, even with the current restrictions we are facing, important strides can be taken.
In light of this we at SSLR have taken a number of decisive steps which have been effective since 13 March 2020:
- We have taken all necessary steps to ensure that our attorneys and staff are necessarily equipped and able to work from home, with only minimal necessary staff actively present within the office. All our staff have access to their emails as well as their telephone lines so that all communication to and from our offices can still occur with ease.
- All meetings will, until the state of disaster has been uplifted, be conducted via electronic means for your convenience and safety. Our staff are ready and able to engage with you on the medium of your choice.
- Our office hours have been temporarily reduced from 8am to 4pm Mondays to Fridays.
- All business-related travel will, until the state of disaster has been uplifted, be cancelled and rearranged at a later stage.
Even though things might take a little bit longer than usual we will still be in Court and do all the things necessary to ensure that the property industry receive the support it needs in this time.
We would like to wish everyone out there a healthy, safe and happy #SelfIsolation. We must all stick together during this difficult time and ensure the safety and good health of all South Africans and our economy! #ConnectedIsolation