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Different Courts and Different Types of Cases

Different Courts and Different Types of Cases


South Africa has a number of different courts for different purposes. For example, a labour dispute would be heard in the Labour Courts, a matter dealing with a breach of contract would be dealt with as a civil case and a matter of theft would be dealt with as a criminal case. This ties in with a court’s jurisdiction – the right to hear a case. Civil litigation refers to legal proceedings against other persons or companies for compensation or to enforce a certain legal right. Civil litigation commences by one party suing another for something they believe they are entitled to. Criminal litigation, on the other hand, deals with legal proceedings when someone has broken the law. He/she is then charged, prosecuted, and punished for committing that crime.

When you are injured and you wish to claim compensation, you would do so through civil litigation in the Magistrates’ Court or the High Court. In civil claims, one only receives compensation for the loss he/she has suffered, including medical and other expenses, loss of income, damages for pain, and suffering.

The courts do not take any disciplinary steps against a medical professional for negligence or unethical treatment. This would be the role of certain bodies to which the professional belongs to. Although not a court process per se, medical practitioners are held accountable to the standard of their professions by disciplinary proceedings.  Patients who feel aggrieved may address their complaint to the relevant regulating bodies, such as:

The Health Professions Council of South (“HPCSA”) for complaints against a doctor:

The HPCSA investigates complaints against medical practitioners on behalf of the public.

Complaints of unprofessional treatment must be lodged in writing to:

The Registrar

Health Professions Council of SA

PO Box 205



For more on laying a complaint, visit the HPCSA website at www.hpcsa.co.za.

The Council for Medical Schemes (“CMS”):

The CMS investigates medical schemes on behalf of medical scheme members.

  • You can contact them on (012) 431 0500.
  • Ask for Complaints.
  • You may also lay a complaint on their website: www. medicalschemes.com
  • or send an e-mail to complaints@medicalschemes.com

Complaints against a Private Hospital:

Should you have any complaint against a private hospital, you can contact the hospital manager or lodge a complaint with the Hospital Association of South Africa (“HASA”) on (011) 478  0410.

Complaints against a Provincial Hospital:

Should you have any complaint against a provincial hospital, you can contact the hospital manager of that hospital and lodge your complaint with them.

Complaints against a Dentist:

Should you have any complaint against a dentist, you can contact the South African Dental Association (“SADA”) on (011) 484 5288.

Complaints against Nursing Professionals:

Complaints against any nursing professional can be lodged with the South African Nursing Council (“SANC”) on (012) 420 1000.

The SANC regulates the conduct of nurse practitioners in South Africa


Click here to view Article 1b – What is the difference between the Magistrates’ Court and the High Court?