17TH FEBRUARY 2016
GALLAGHER CONVENTION CENTRE, MIDRAND
1.1 Thank you Madam compere Ms. Jacqueline Matshego Ramagaga, ie, the Deputy Chairperson of the Companies Tribunal.
1.2 Ordinarily and/or rather ideally seminar(s) of the DTI and its agencies are opened by the Minister, ie, Dr. Rob Davies or the Director General, ie, Mr. Lionel October or the DDG, ie, Ms. Zodwa Ntuli or the GCOO, ie, Ms. Jodi Scholtz. I have been tasked to assume this mantle. This is so as I also have to play a role as a panellist at a later stage.
TAKE THE LIBERTY TO WELCOME AND RECOGNISE DIGNITARIES
I take the liberty to welcome you all. It would be amiss not to recognise:
(1) Mr. MacDonald Netshitendze the Acting Deputy Director General:
Department of Trade and Industry, ie, an ally of the Companies Tribunal and one of the architects the complex Companies Act 71 of 2008.
(2) The Deputy Director General of Consumer and Corporate Regulation Division, Ms. Zodwa Ntuli duly represented here, ie, an ally of the Companies Tribunal.
(3) Ms. Jodi Scholtz, the Group Chief Operating Officer in the office of the Director General, duly represented here, ie, another ally of the Companies Tribunal.
(4) Honourable Mr. Justice Dunstan Mlambo, ie, the Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court (both North and South).
4.1 I am singularly privileged to have you here with your expertise in ADR having served in the following forums:
(5) Representatives of sister agencies from the DTI. All of whom I recognise and share the spotlight with at COTII compered by the DDG, ie, Ms. Zodwa Ntuli.
(6) Representatives from the SCCL “Special Committee on Company Law” chaired by Professor Michael Katz.
I recognise Professor Mongalo.
I welcome you all.
FELLOW TRIBUNAL MEMBERS
2.1 My fellow Tribunal members who are here. They are fourteen (14) in number. I am privileged and proud to be associated with this team. I would like you to stand up from where you are. You only need to go on our website and read decisions that this team writes in line with its function of discharging the statutory mandate imposed on it by the legislature.
2.2 I am the Chairperson of the Companies Tribunal and Ms. MJ Ramagaga is the Deputy Chairperson. Currently, two (2) of the Tribunal members are Acting Judges of the High Court, Mr. Acting Justice Maake Kganyago and Mr. Acting Justice Khashane Manamela. One member has already been appointed a Judge, ie, Madam Justice Sheila Segopotje Mphahlele. In addition, the Tribunal also consists of members who are Senior Advocate(s), Senior Attorney(s), an Advocate, Law Professors and a Chartered Accountant. Professor Piet Delport who is an authority on the complex subject of Companies Law together with Professor Kasturi serve on the Tribunal. It’s a privilege to have such a wealth of talent on the Tribunal. The Tribunal is tasked with interpreting and implementing a new world class Companies Act and ushering in and developing alternative dispute resolutions into the sphere of company operations.
2.3 The Tribunal has wide-ranging functions assigned to it in terms of section 195 of the Act, more particularly section 195(c), which enjoins the Tribunal to “perform any other functions assigned to it by in terms of this Act, or any law mentioned in schedule 4” to the Companies Act.
The Tribunal members have to perform numerous tasks, including adjudicating hearings of matters/complaints and resolving disputes, and is so doing, follow the rules of the High Court for the conduct of proceedings. The Tribunal applies the High Court tariffs when awarding costs to parties. In addition to the above, the Tribunal is assigned functions to review decisions and notices through complaints referred by the Companies Intellectual Property Commission “CIPC” or lodged against the “CIPC”.
OUR STAFF MEMBERS
I also welcome you all. You are the heart, the blood, the brain, the nervous system and over and above all without you all there is no Companies Tribunal. I welcome you all. In my mother tongue “Sepedi” there’s an adage that goes: “Kgoši eja morago”, “the King/Chief eats last”. The most important gets mentioned last.
FUNCTIONS OF THE TRIBUNAL IN THE ADR SPACE
The Tribunal is assigned by section 166 the function of resolving disputes/matters which are referred to it by any person who would be entitled to apply for relief, or file a complaint in terms of the Act as an alternative to applying for a relief to a Court, or filing a complaint with the Commission. The Tribunal is enjoined by this section to use conciliation, mediation or arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution forum, another area requiring expertise that the Tribunal Members have to possess and apply. Needless to say, High Court Judges will now lately be required to apply alternative dispute resolution in addition to their adjudicating duties. The Companies Tribunal will also play a critical role in alleviating the litigation congestion currently experienced in the High Court especially in matters pertaining to company law disputes. The above illustrated functions and duties are not an exhaustive list of the Companies Tribunal’s mammoth task, but are simple illustrations of the extent of the responsibilities assigned to the Companies Tribunal.
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends, it is the selfsame function of the Companies Tribunal that has informed today’s topic, ie, Promoting A Culture Of Resolving Disputes Through ADR.
Once again, you’re welcomed.