Largest Class Action in South African Legal History Launched

By Izak Potgieter, Heyns and Partners Inc.

TA South African court recently gave the green light to launch the largest class action suit in the country’s legal history, when two pensioners were granted permission to institute a lawsuit against the massive parastatal, Transnet.

Transnet is accused of stripping two of its pension funds from its assets and mismanaging its pension funds as a result of which thousands of its destitute members had their benefits reduced with some earning less than the state’s old-age pension. The class action seeks to recover nearly R80 billion from Transnet on behalf of more than 62 000 members of the pension funds. Transnet is currently appealing the decision of the court to authorise the institution of the class-action, leaving the affected pensioners with further delays to contend with.

Class actions very seldom occur in South Africa. Prior to 2013, class actions were restricted to matters where the interest sought to be protected was contained in the Bill of Rights enshrined in the South African Constitution. However, the position recently changed to provide for class action suits to be instituted for general litigation as well.

Although courts recently laid down guidelines for instituting such class actions, it still remains a daunting task due to the number of litigants involved. As the South African judiciary braces itself for the largest class action case in its history, the unfolding of the matter will be followed with eager interest.  

Izak Potgieter
Heyns and Partners Inc., Goodwood, South Africa
T: +27 21 590 72 00
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Izak Potgieter joined Heyns & Partners Inc. during 2011 as a candidate-attorney and was subsequently admitted as an attorney in 2013. Izak currently attends to debt collection and various commercial law litigation matters. In this he is ably assisted by a dedicated group of supporting staff. Heyns and Partners Inc. was founded in 1958. In 1986, the firm started to operate and conduct business under its current name. It is privileged to represent a very diverse and extensive client base, both corporate and individual, offering litigation, conveyancing and notary services.


published: October 2014

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