Judge Esther Steyn’s ruling has been hailed as progressive and “in keeping with the times”.
It pertains to a matter where Cecil Schickerling of CMC Woodworking Machine (Pty) Ltd is suing Pieter Odendaal for R126 700 over the sale of a woodworking machine.
“Changes in communication technology have increased exponentially; therefore it is not unreasonable to expect the law to recognise such changes and accommodate it,” said Steyn in a written explanation.
“The present application, in my view, would not have been possible had it not been for a recent amendment to the uniform rules of a court which provides for service by way of electronic mail, registered post and fax,” said the judge.
Steyn said that before granting the application to use Facebook as a medium to serve a legal notice
she studied the workings of Facebook and surmised that it could be used as an effective tracing tool and it could relay information to individuals concerned.
Steyn was also satisfied that there could be no claims of mistaken identity as the photos lodged in the defendant’s photo album are clear and he’s identifiable, and his privacy has not been compromised having studied how messages are sent.
Apparently, after preliminary legal processes in the Schickerling versus Odendaal matter started during 2006, it was set down as awaiting trial in May 2008. But in April 2010 the defendant’s attorney’s served notice of their withdrawal from the matter.
Since then, every attempt by the sheriff of the court and tracing agents to serve the notice on Odendaal proved futile. As a last resort, Schickerling’s attorney, Ian King, tracked Odendaal on Facebook and posted the notice
The Law Society of SA gave Steyn’s ruling the thumbs-up. The society’s co-chairman Krish Govender said: “The judgment by Steyn must be seen as progressive and in keeping with the times we live in, particularly if it promotes access to justice.”
If Odendaal checks his Facebook messages he will learn that the trial date has been set down for August 29 and a pre-trial conference will be held on August 14.
And, as a precautionary measure Schickerling’s legal team will also publicise the notices in the August 13 edition of The Mercury. - INL
The theme of this day is ‘The Sheriff and the Citizen’.
The sheriffs’ goal should be to successfully carry out enforcement while respecting the dignity of the litigant and the balance between the rights of all.
They must ensure the effectiveness of the rights of citizens. Beyond formal guarantees to the citizens recognized by the state, sheriffs must make the rights of these citizens become real and effective.
They certainly use the means at their disposal by the law, but beyond this, they also consider the human dimension of their profession: they have to convince without force, they have to understand without admitting.
They have a duty of impartiality and neutrality, and should exercise restraint. They should retain a sense of measure, to achieve the required result while limiting and adapting those means of achievement to the situation.
A rule of caution stems from the imperative of moderation as they are fully liable for their actions. Enforcement measures are delicate indeed. On this occasion, the sheriff must show unwavering professionalism but also tact and delicacy.
That's the everyday ethics of the judicial officer. Sheriffs’ rules of conduct towards citizens revolve around notions such as counsel, carefulness and independence.
Counsel: how to carry out the most appropriate procedure.
Carefulness: how to give the most appropriate procedure its dimension and effective guarantee.
Independence: the magistrate or judge grants the order and the sheriff ensures its concrete expression by carrying out the enforcement of the decision.
The topic of Maintenance remains high as a priority in our country. We appeal to you to serve these documents free of charge from 4 to 8 June 2012. If you can, join forces with a neighbouring Sheriff and sponsor a soup kitchen on the 7th! The day provides an opportunity to show the public all the activities carried out by the Sheriff in family law. The role of the Sheriff when he/she recovers a maintenance obligation should be emphasized: he allows an abandoned family to recover the means necessary for its subsistence and social survival.
We will be most grateful to you if you participate and use your imagination to promote your office and the profession during the said week. Please record your involvement by taking photographs and writing a short report, we would like to place this on our website and in the next newsletter.
WE URGE YOU TO PARTICIPATE AS MOST SHERIFFS DID LAST YEAR!
On 15 March 2012 Minister Jeff Radebe and Deputy Minister Andries Nel called the new Boardmembers together for the first time in Cape Town. The services of five of the previous Boardmembers were retained to ensure continuity during the appointment process.