Welcome to the fourth edition of Independent Actuarial Consultant’s (IAC) monthly newsletter. Via this newsletter we will keep you updated of all the latest case law relating to motor vehicle accidents and the quantification of damages relating to personal injury claims.
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CHETTY v THE ROAD ACCIDENT FUND 2009 (5) SA 193
In the afternoon of the last day (28 March 2002) before the Appelant’s (plaintiff a quo) claim for compensation would have become prescribed the Appelant’s attorney attempted to deliver the claim by hand at the Respondent’s office. However, the Respondent’s office had closed at noon in accordance with its practice to do so on the day before a public holiday.
The attorney was refused access to the building by the security guards and instructed to deposit the claim in a wooden box in the foyer the Respondent used to receive documents. She did so and left. The Appelant subsequently instituted action in the magistrates court to which the Respondent raised a special plea of prescription as they contended that the claim had only been lodged on 4 April 2009. This was based on the contention that the Appelant did not comply with S 24(1)(b) of the Act which states that a claim shall “…(b) be sent by registered post or delivered by hand to the fund at its principal, branch or regional office… and the fund … shall at the time of delivery by hand acknowledge receipt thereof and the date of such receipt in writing.”
The special plea was upheld by the magistrate in the court a quo. The Appelant appealed to the Natal Provincial Division. The Appeal turned on whether depositing the claim in the box in the foyer amounted to delivery of the
claim to the Respondent on the day on which it was deposited or not. No evidence was led by the Respondent to gainsay that of the Appelant’s attorney as set out above. Accordingly the court held that what was required for delivery by hand in terms of s 24(1)(b) was that delivery takes place when a person is placed in possession of the relevant documentation. In the present matter the Appelant had to prove that depositing the claim in the wooden box amounted to the respondent being placed in possession of the claim. The court further held that the physical and mental elements of possession were present as the Respondent had physical control over the box and one of the Respondent’s claims handlers gave evidence that the Respondent regarded documents deposited into the box as having been received the
day they were placed there The Respondent had thus been placed in possession of the claim when the Appelant’s attorney
deposited the claim by hand in the box.
Appeal upheld with costs.
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And I leave you with my parting joke for the month –
Q: What’s wrong with Lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes.