The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
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-area expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
Read also JIFA's Environmental Country Reports for SADC
The court considered an appeal of the judgment handed down in the lower court, granting an interim interdict.
The respondents in the matter argued that a court of appeal should not interfere with the discretion of the lower court, unless compelling reasons exist to do so.
The requirements for an interim interdict are that the applicant must prove 1) a prima facie right. 2) a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm occurring 3) a balance of convenience must favour the granting of the interim relief and 4) it must be the only satisfactory relief available.
The court found that despite the requirements, a court has a discretion on whether to grant such a relief. Despite the existence of the requirements, the court held that there are no comprehensive guidelines that can be laid down to prevent a court from using the discretion.
The court after weighing up the delay in the court a quo and the public interest in the project, came to the conclusion that the appropriate relief was one which protected the right of the respondents to claim relief through damages.
The court restrained the appellants from interfering or obstructing any agents, employee or experts employed by the respondents from carrying out tests or investigations for the purposes of establishing and estimating the damages.
The court granted the interim prohibitory interdict.
The court considered an application declaring the suspension and non-renewal of the licence by the respondent, null and void. The applicant was further seeking an order compelling the respondent to pay damages incurred as a result of the suspension.
The court was faced with the question of how a court must approach cases brought through motion proceedings, which require oral evidence to be heard..
The court pointed out that while the suspension and non-renewal of the licence could be decided on motion proceedings, the application for damages required oral evidence.
The court found that damages require proof and therefore cannot be decided on motion proceedings.
The court came to decision that the matter be referred to trial and all affidavits and depositions which formed part of the application be used as pleadings in the action.
The court postponed the issue of costs, until the trial.
The applicant approached the court by motion proceedings claiming that the suspension of the digging licence at Kao Diamond Mininq by the respondents be declared null and void. The applicant also prayed for damages and costs of the suit.
The respondents raised an objection on a point of law and submitted that the applicant was abusing court process by using motion proceedings to institute a case where there was a dispute of facts.
The court applied the rule that motion proceedings are preferred where the issues are clear. Further, the court held that matters brought by motion proceedings on disputed facts should be dismissed with costs. The court found that the applicant’s claim was based on issues of fact and law thus the difficulty in choosing how to institute the claim.
The court noted that it was required to examine the alleged dispute of fact and see whether in truth there was a real issue of fact which cannot be determined without oral evidence. Additionally, the court had the discretion to decide disputed claims by motion proceedings in appropriate cases.
It was held that the claim on license suspension by motion proceedings was correctly instituted and the damages claim was dismissed. The court applied its discretion as per rule 8 sub-rule (14) of the High Court Rules and ordered the matter to trial for the resolution of the license suspension. It was also ordered that the affidavits be considered as pleadings and the costs of the application be costs in the trial.