The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
This case dealt with emolument attachment orders (EAO) that had been obtained through written consent by the applicants. The applicants were a group of low-income earners and vulnerable occupants that only had their salaries and wages as a means to survival. The issue was that the EAOs were from jurisdictions far from where the applicants resided. This case pinpoints the importance of issuing EAOs that are just and equitable, by focusing on the processes that the respondents had followed to secure repayment of loans. This case also illustrates the duty to protect citizens against human rights abuses by business enterprises by having effective remedies that protect victims.
The court considered whether the respondents’ conduct fell within the scope of section 65J(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act which allows an attachment on a debtor’s earnings and obliges his or her employer to pay out of such earnings specific instalments in favour of the creditor. The court held that section 45 of the Magistrates’ Court Act provides that parties may consent to the jurisdiction of a court that does not have jurisdiction
The Court held that section 65(J)(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act had failed to provide a statutory limit on the EAOs which may be granted against a judgment debtor.
The Court found that the respondents had denied the applicants their constitutional right to approach the courts by obtaining judgments and EAOs in courts that were far from the applicants’ workplaces and homes. The court held that the respondents’ actions were a result of them forum shopping for courts which entertained their applications. The court held that in this case where the applicants had admitted liability for the debts and had consented to the EAOs, section 45 of the Magistrates’ Court Act did not permit that the applicants could consent to the jurisdiction of a court outside their district. Thus, the court found that the EAOs were in fact not just and equitable considering the statuses of the applicants.
Accordingly, the court upheld the applicants’ complaint and held that the EAOs were in breach of section 65(J)(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act.