Resolution of Company Disputes during COVID-19
The Companies Tribunal Chairperson, Dr Mohamed Chicktay calls for companies to use services of the Companies Tribunal during these difficult times.
Covic-19 pandemic has devastated economies across the world and created a lot of strain for companies. Many companies have filed for business rescue and closed down. During these tough economic times of uncertainty, the last thing a company needs is a dispute that should be litigated in court. With courts operating at limited capacity prioritising urgent matters and restrictions imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19, any matter that should be litigated in court will take much longer than usual. This is in addition to the costs associated with the court process. Considering this crisis, it is high time that companies utilize the services of the Companies Tribunal (the Tribunal) which are quick and free of charge. With the introduction of the online Case Management System and online mediation, the Tribunal is ready to provide speedy resolution of disputes during the lockdown.
An agency of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), the Tribunal was established to provide speedy resolution of disputes brought in terms of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (the Act). Under this Act the Tribunal is empowered to adjudicate company disputes and provide alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services through mediation, conciliation and arbitration. Speaking on SABC News Channel 404, the Chairperson of the Tribunal Dr Mohamed Chicktay, urged companies to utilize services of the Tribunal especially mediation because through it the Tribunal has a broader jurisdiction, it’s private and preserves relations between companies, shareholder and directors unlike in a court where it’s a winner takes all kind of situation. He emphasized that the Tribunal has experienced mediators who can handle any matter. He stated that we need to change ways in which we resolve company disputes citing South Africa as having a rich history when it comes to ADR.
He also made a call to companies who can’t hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) due to COVID-19 to apply to the Tribunal for extension of an AGM. Public Companies are required in terms of the Act to convene an AGM each year. Where companies are unable to convene an AGM within 15 months after the date of the previous AGM, they can apply to the Tribunal for extension of time to hold the AGM. Upon consideration of the application the Tribunal can either grant or refuse an application for extension.
Case Management System
The Tribunal encourages the filing of applications through the Case Management System which is accessed on the Tribunal’s website. This system is secure, easy to use and has added benefits like tracking and review of the case status and it’s compatible with mobile devices. If there is a need for a hearing, hearings are conducted online using video conferencing technology, they are also done offline but COVID-19 regulations of sanitising, wearing of face masks and social distancing is adhered to.
Visit our website: https://www.companiestribunal.org.za
Contact: 012 394 1000