Disputes in community living schemes were previously adjudicated upon by the Courts in South Africa. Among the eminent challenges with this was the fact that the motion procedure in the Courts system is usually an expensive and long one.
The Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) is a creature of the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act (9 of 2011) which was promulgated to deal with disputes in community living schemes amongst its other responsibilities as a body.
The CSOS provides a quicker and cost-effective adjudication process for disputes in community living schemes e.g sectional title units, home-owners associations.
In this article, our attorneys will provide an overview of the dispute resolution process of the CSOS for the benefit of parties who might need to approach the CSOS for adjudication of their disputes.
However, we encourage parties to consult with our legal team before approaching the CSOS so that we can assist in the compilation of the forms and advising on the merits of the case. This is important because the case or dispute must be established clearly on lodgement as the adjudication forum will assess and focus only on what has been declared on lodgement of the case before proceeding.
The first important thing to establish apart from there being a dispute, is the party bringing the dispute must have the legal standing to do so. This is otherwise as locus standi.
In a case where it is later discovered that the party who brought the dispute does not have locus standi, the matter may be appealed on that aspect alone to the detriment of such party and its interest.
This was the ruling in the case of Durdoc Centre Body Corporate v Singh 2019 (6) SA 45 (KZP) where it was upheld that the party who brought the dispute to the CSOS (manager of the complainant) had brought the dispute in his own name but that he has no sufficient real interest in the dispute as the non-supply of electricity did not affect him directly or indirectly in any way.
Section 38 (1) of the CSOS Act provides that ‘any’ party may make application for adjudication of a dispute if that person is a party to the dispute or is materially affected by the dispute.
Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice before embarking on the procedure so that we can assist to clear the technical and legal hurdles that fraught the process.
Below is a step-by-step guide on the CSOS adjudication process for disputes;
New disputes must be completed and declared on the prescribed form, then lodged with the CSOS by hand, via website, via email, registered post or by fax. The case will be registered on the CSOS system if everything is in place and will escalate for Evaluation. This initial process takes about 5 days.
During this stage, if there are any reasons why the matter may not proceed e.g lack of jurisdiction, a rejection letter will be issued to the party who brought the dispute. If the matter is deemed competent to proceed then stage 3 will be conducted.
Depending on the circumstances, Conciliation may be informal where parties to the dispute may be assisted to resolve the dispute in a rather informal way and if successful a settlement agreement will be concluded. Alternatively a formal notice is sent to both parties and the matter is Set Down on a specific date and time, where facilitation will be done by the CSOS for parties to resolve the dispute.
In the event that the dispute remains unresolved, then stage 4 will proceed. This process usually unfolds over a period of about 40 days.
During this process an investigation and analysis of all evidence, legislative framework, recommendations and reports will be attended to. The Adjudicator then makes a finding based on the proven documentary evidence presented. Alternatively a Hearing will be set down to hear the matter as presented by the parties before making a finding. A finding will usually contain an Order to remedy the dispute.
The process above is fraught with technical and legal hurdles that are not easily conquered, it is important to seek expert legal assistance.
At Van Deventer & Van Deventer Attorneys we stand ready to assist in various Property law matters. Our approach is comprehensive and committed, and our topmost priority is to legally safeguard your interests.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. One should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this site contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address one’s peculiar situation. We disclaim all liability for actions one may take or fail to take based on any content on this site.
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