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Steps to Take in Referring a Case to the Equality Court

Contact your local Magistrates’ Court and ask if it is an Equality Court. If it is not, ask where the closest one is. All High courts and most Magistrates’ Courts have an Equality Court.

Go to the Equality Court and lodge your complaint with the equality clerk. The clerk will help you to complete the relevant form.

The Equality Clerk must, within 7 days, notify the other party called the respondent, that you have lodged a complaint. The respondent will be given a form by the Clerk if they deny the allegation and want to give their side to the incident. They must return the form to the equality clerk within 10 days of receiving it.

The equality clerk must also pass details of the complaint to the Presiding Officer within 3 days of you lodging it.

The presiding officer must decide within 7 days if the case should be heard by the Equality Court, or whether another forum, for example, the CCMA, would be more appropriate to deal with it. If the presiding officer decides to refer the matter to another forum, the clerk must notify the parties of the referral. The alternate forum must deal with the matter as fast as possible. If the alternate forum does not resolve the matter, it must refer the matter back to the Equality Court with a report. The Equality Court will then have 7 days within which to give instructions as to how the matter should be dealt with.

If the presiding officer agrees this is a case for the Equality Court, then the equality clerk must set the first court date, which is called a directions hearing. At this hearing, the presiding officer will sort out issues such as: when can the parties come to trial, does anyone need an interpreter or should assessors be used.

The equality clerk must then legally serve notice of the hearing on the parties. If either of the parties cannot afford to pay for the notice to be served, the equality clerk can decide that the State must pay for this.

The parties must then appear in the Equality Court on the date set by the Court.

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