Making history, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) held its first successful cyber trial on Monday 4 May 2020 at 10:00 as a direct result of the directive issued amid the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic whereby parties to a matter are allowed the opportunity to choose for their matter to be dispensed with by way of a web-based conference.
Our firm, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys - and my appeals department specifically - was fortunate enough to be the local correspondent for the Respondents under instructions from Krouwkams Attorneys in Worcester.
The matter heard was Roux NO and others v Botha NO and others under case number 427/2019 in front of Justice Navsa as presiding judge assisted by Mocumie JA, Makgoka JA, Ledwaba AJA and Gorven AJA - who were all in front of computer screens. The crux of this matter is certain aspects of servitudes and water rights between neighbouring properties in the Western Cape.
In turn, the parties were represented by Theo Nel and Andre la Grange SC, who were also each in front of their respective computer screens.
Similar to a normal court appearance, all parties were correctly robed in line with the accepted standards. The parties each raised their arguments as would be the norm, with the judges posing their relevant questions to the parties, with the only significant difference being the fact that the instructing attorney and client were in Worcester - and not seated behind their counsel as is usually the case. Thus, any further instructions during the actual argument were sent to counsel via WhatsApp. The arguments went on for almost three hours before the matter was adjourned.
For the most part, it can be noted that the SCA therefore successfully held their first ever web-based trial, with a few more to come in May 2020. I'll keep you posted!