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Urgent Applications

The court process is designed to give effect to the legal principle of audi alteram partem - to hear both sides of a dispute. Although this helps ensure fairness for both litigating parties, it does mean that the court process can take time.

But sometimes there isn't time to wait. If your safety or the safety of a loved one is in danger, you may need to approach the High Court with an urgent application.


What is an urgent application?

Rule 6(12) of the High Court Rules provides a procedure where certain matters may be heard on an urgent basis. This means that the time periods for the filing of papers are dispensed with, to provide a party with an earlier court hearing and emergency relief.

Does my case qualify for an urgent application?

To succeed with an urgent application, you must prove urgency in the legal sense. Note that this is not necessarily the same as urgency in the layperson's sense. An urgent interdict, spoliation or other application is an extraordinary remedy which infringes the opposing party's legal rights to respond. Therefore the situation should be one where an urgent court application is the only possible remedy.

Note that what you view as urgent might not be viewed by the court in the same way. Each court deals with hundreds of urgent applications every week - and dismisses many of them for failing to satisfy grounds for urgency. You should contact us for advice on whether your matter passes legal requirements for urgency.

Common examples of situations where an urgent application may be appropriate:

  • You discover that your company directorship has been hijacked and you bank account frozen.

  • You discover that your staff are planning to stage an illegal protest at your business premises.

  • Your ex informs you that they have booked a flight and are moving your child overseas.

  • Your landlord has changed the locks to your apartment and locked you out without an eviction order.

  • Your creditor has seized your vehicle or other assets without agreement or court order.

What is the process for the launching of an urgent application?

Unless a case is extremely urgent, and must be heard within 12-24 hours, the High Court must be approached to set a matter down on the Urgent Roll, usually heard every Tuesday of the week. This means that all paperwork must be filed before 12 pm on the Thursday before that Tuesday.

Urgent applications require a Notice of Motion and Affidavit by the Applicant, to be served on the Respondent. Service is normally effected by the sheriff, but in extreme circumstances, they can be served in other ways. Again, unless the matter is extremely urgent, the Respondent must be afforded time to respond to the application.

There have been countless cases where urgent applications have failed because clients waited too long to launch them. The Court asks, "if this was so urgent, why did you wait?" Therefore, if you have an urgent problem, it is imperative that you do not delay even a day.

​​​​What should I do if I need urgent legal assistance?

Most importantly, you should contact us for advice immediately. The longer the situation exists, the less urgent it becomes in the view of the court. In some situations, it may be necessary to approach the court immediately without even having time to draft affidavits.

Contact our office for advice on your urgent matter - preferably via telephone in these cases.

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