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Announcements
Lihle Nombela; Legal Services Manager

 

The CSOS has embarked on various campaigns and activities aimed at raising the profile and visibility of the organisation. It takes us great pleasure to inform you that the investments made towards these awareness campaigns, are yielding positive results.

 

In a spate of cases recently decided by various High Courts in South Africa, the courts have affirmed the powers and jurisdiction of the CSOS as a forum of first instance where a dispute falls squarely within the ambit of the CSOS Act.

 

In the matters between Coral Island Body Corporate v Hoge 2019 (5) SA 158 (WCC); Heathrow Property Holdings NO 33 CC & Other v Manhattan Place Body Corporate & Others (7235/2017) 2022 (1) SA 211 (WCC) (1 JUNE 2021); Wingate Body Corporate v Pamba & Another (33185/2021) [2022] ZAGPPHC 46; Prag N O v the trustees for the time being of the Mitchell’s Plain Industrial Enterprises Sectional Title Scheme Body Corporate 2021 (5) SA 623 (WCC); and The Body Corporate of the Sorronto Sectional Title Scheme, Parow v Leozette Koordom and Wilfred Booysen delivered on 26 May 2022, the Applicants had bypassed the CSOS and instead opted to approach the High Court to have their disputes pertaining to the administration of their respective community schemes resolved.

 

Although the courts accepted that they enjoy concurrent jurisdiction with the CSOS in relation to disputes pertaining to community schemes, they emphasize the following principles which are pivotal to the mandate and existence of the CSOS, namely that:

 

    1. where disputes pertaining to community schemes such as sectional title schemes fall within the ambit and purview of the CSOS Act, they are in the first instance to be referred to the Ombud for resolution in accordance with the conciliative and adjudicatory processes established by the Act, and a court is not only entitled to decline to entertain such matters as a forum of first instance, but may in fact be obliged to do so, save in exceptional circumstances…convenience will not constitute an exceptional circumstance” – Heathrow Property Holdings NO 33 CC & Other v Manhattan Place Body Corporate & Others;

 

    1. “to allow litigants to proceed directly to a court instead of the primary adjudicative forum which has been established by the CSOS Act, would undermine the administrative and quasi-judicial processes which have been provided for and result in ‘forum-shopping’ by better resourced litigants”; and

 

  1. “It requires little insight to appreciate that those commendable policy considerations (i.e cheap and informal dispute resolution mechanism) would be liable to be undermined if the courts were indiscriminately to entertain and dispose of matters that should rather have been brought under the Ombud Act”– Coral Island v Hoge.

 

The abovementioned judgements are a victory and a giant leap in the right direction for the CSOS as they enhance the main objectives of the CSOS Act and further highlight the important role of the CSOS as the regulatory authority for community schemes in the industry.

 

Issued by:

Lihle Ntombela
Legal Services Manager
Community Schemes Ombud Service

In The News

HEADLINE: High Courts Affirm CSOS's Jurisdiction as a Forum of first instance
Date Published: June 9, 2022