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News > Too little, too late - and the taxpayer must pay

Too little, too late - and the taxpayer must pay

updated: 24-May-10

De Broglio Inc’s frustrations with the Road Accident Fund’s tardiness continue. One of the latest incidents involves a matter where the Fund wasted public funds unnecessarily due to being late with a court application.

One of De Broglio Inc’s clients, represented by advocate Eben Serfontein, submitted a claim to the RAF after suffering head injuries in a car accident. The trial was run on the merits of the case only, and judgment for damages was 30% in the plaintiff’s favour, meaning that he had been 70% negligent in causing the accident.
The Fund, as defendant, indicated that it wished to apply for leave to appeal – but this has to be done within 15 of judgment being handed down. It was not done by the stipulated deadline.
Instead, in April 2010 – more than eight months after the case had been concluded – the Fund submitted a condonation application to the court in a bid to justify its lengthy delay in requesting leave to appeal.
However, the presiding judge said the RAF’s explanation was so flimsy that he dismissed the condonation application and the request for leave to appeal with costs (including the attorney-client legal fees that had been incurred by the plaintiff), instructing the RAF to do its job on time or face the consequences.
The bill for these extra punitive costs – amounting to about R30 000 – will now have to be footed by the taxpayer.
The irony of the matter, says Serfontein, was that the judge had initially indicated during the trial that should the Fund request leave to appeal within the specified timeframe, its application probably would have been granted, as he thought that a possibility existed that another court might have reached a different conclusion in this particular matter.
Instead, because of the RAF’s shoddiness and failure to abide by procedure, court time and public money was needlessly squandered.

Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.