Pretoria – By placing obstacles which make it nearly impossible to lodge claims, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is infringing on the constitutional rights of claimants.
This is according to lawyer Jean-Paul Rudd, who has launched legal proceedings on behalf of his clients to overturn directives issued by the RAF and the Transport Ministry regarding the requirements to lodge a claim.
In terms of these directives and an amended claim form, claimants must attach a host of documents, such as a comprehensive accident report and hospital and medical records, before they are allowed to even lodge it.
Rudd is now asking the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to set aside the requirement for all the compulsory information before being able to lodge a claim.
In a groundbreaking first step, the court earlier gave the green light for claims to be lodged with the RAF for now without all documents.
This is, however, pending the review application, for which no date has yet been set.
The effect of the interim order is that the RAF cannot refuse any victim of a road accident from lodging their claims.
While it is only temporary and pending the outcome of the review application, the earlier order will prevent thousands of RAF claims from lapsing before claimants are able to submit all the documents, as required under a new directive. A host of claims were, however, rejected outright by the RAF between March 8 and June 15 when the directive was still in place.
Rudd will also ask for an order that those whose claims that were rejected as they did not have all the documentation at hand will have a further three months in which to lodge their claims.
One of the biggest issues with the new directives is that it is impossible for claimants to have all documents at hand when they lodge a claim for the first time.
Until March, claimants were able to lodge claims with what they have and later submit the other documents as they came to hand.
But in terms of the directives issued, the RAF refused to accept any claims if even one of the documents on its long list was outstanding.
In the latest court papers filed in the review application a few days ago, Rudd said in a supplementary affidavit that the RAF was attempting to justify its “unlawful” conduct under the pretence of administrative reform.
He said the requirements ignore the socio-economic reality of many claimants – especially those who act without a lawyer and who are unable to obtain the necessary documents.
Rudd added that neither the RAF or other state organs provided claimants with the financial means to obtain these compulsory documents.
This is apart from the challenges which victims face in obtaining these documents from, among others, police stations and hospitals, especially during the time of Covid-19.
He said historically courts had appreciated the practical and logistical challenges in obtaining these documents and that it was not always possible to do so immediately.
Rudd also said that these directives were issued under questionable circumstances and without consultation with the public or the legal fraternity.
The RAF earlier indicated that it has a host of claim forms, without the necessary documentation.
Thus, they said, they cannot finalise these claims within the 120 days in terms of their vision to streamline the paying of claims.
While it is opposing this application, RAF spokesperson William Maphutha, when asked by the Pretoria News for their side, said the matter was sub judice.
“Our legal counsel is currently engaging on the merits and demerits of the case and we therefore cannot comment or exchange any documentation.”