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Prescription Periods

All claims fall away (prescribe) after a certain period of time. In other words, you will lose your right to claim against another person if you wait too long to make the claim. If you are helping someone with a case, it is very important that you do not delay in taking follow-up action and that you advise the person immediately of the time-limits.

Examples of prescription periods:

  • A motor vehicle insurance claim form must be sent to the Road Accident Fund within two years from the date of the accident.
  • If someone has been unfairly dismissed and wishes to apply for reinstatement or for compensation, the application must be referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration within 30 days of the unfair dismissal.
  • Applications for Unemployment Insurance Fund Benefits – if you are outside the prescription period you may lose all your employment benefits.

The Institution of Legal proceedings against certain Organs of state Act, (No 40 of 2002) has changed the prescription periods for claims against government bodies. In terms of Section 3 of this Act you must do the following:

  • Give notice in writing of your intention to institute legal action against a government body within 6 months of the claim arising. The notice must be served on the person by hand or by electronic mail or fax.
  • Make a claim against the relevant body within 3 years of the claim arising.

If you don’t give the required 6 months notice and you have good reasons for not giving proper notice, you can apply to the court for condonation. This means you ask the court to allow you to continue with the claim even though it has officially prescribed because you had good reasons for failing to give notice.

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