Last week, SERI made a submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the Land Court Bill. The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of a Land Court and a Land Court of Appeal; to make provision for the administration and judicial functions of the Land Court and Land Court of Appeal; to provide for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Land Courts and to amend certain laws relating to the adjudication of land matters by other courts. In brief, the Bill is primarily concerned with establishing the legal basis for the Land Courts as functioning institutions. SERI considered the Bill and made this submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in accordance with the invitation to submit written comments.  

SERI’s submission highlighted a number of concerns with the Bill. They include: 

  • The need to frame the Bill in a broader land reform context
  • Urban tenure and PIE Act jurisprudence
  • Judges appointed to the Land Courts
  • Legal representation from Legal Aid South Africa
  • Ambiguities in the text of the Bill 
  • Transitional arrangements 
  • Access to Justice 

The submission provides specific recommendations for each concern including: that the wealth of progressive jurisprudence in respect of housing and eviction law is taken on board and explicitly acknowledged in the Bill; that the status of the Judges and the Rules of the Land Court be clarified; that a clear transition process is outlined for new cases should the Land Court come into effect; that our significant concerns with the expertise and outlook of Legal  Aid South Africa be addressed; and that the Land Court be established as a court of appeal rather than as a court of first instance. 

Overall, SERI is concerned that the Bill in its current state is not perfectly suited to preside over the myriad cases that are currently before the various courts. We therefore recommend that it be amended in line with this submission.   

Read the full submission here