In this matter, the application stemmed from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) having adopted and implementing:
- a Management Directive for compulsory information to be submitted when lodging a claim dated 08th March 2021;
- a Supplier Claims External Communication dated 19 May 2021;
- Board Notice 58 of 2021 which stipulated terms and conditions upon which claims were to be administered;
- the substitution of the RAF 1 Claim Form.
The Applicant’s were accordingly seeking for the review and retrospective setting aside of these decisions by the RAF.
One of the first questions the court asked in casu was whether any of the decisions made by the RAF were in fact administrative actions, eligible for review and setting aside in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA). The debate fell around whether the RAF’s decisions constituted administrative action (reviewable) or policy formulation (not reviewable). Ultimately the full bench of the Pretoria High Court found that the RAF’s decisions are administrative action and in evaluating whether or not the decisions were rationally connected to their objective of enabling efficient and effective administration of claims, it was found that only substantial compliance of Section 24 of the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996, as amended (RAF Act) is required.
The court touched on the fact that the right to claim compensation is one enjoyed by all persons within the Republic therefore public engagement is required where the rights of affected persons are adversely and materially affected, which did not happen in this instance.
It was argued by the Applicant’s that Section 26 of the RAF Act only empowers the Minister to make regulations, and not the RAF as a whole, through the implementation of management directives or board notices. It was argued by the RAF that Regulation 7(1) of the RAF Regulations empowered them to amend or substitute the RAF 1 Form as it was a regulation made by the Minister which accordingly constituted a sub – delegation of the Minister’s power. The court on this point however took the view that an authority or power delegated cannot be further delegated unless expressly permitted in the enabling legislation, which would be the RAF Act in this matter. Even if sub – delegation was permissible (which the court held it was not in this matter), the court held that the exercise of such sub – delegated power would require that it be in line not only with the Constitution but also with the provisions of the enabling Act.
The court held that through implementing its decisions and through substituting the RAF 1 Form, the RAF has imposed conditions for the submission of what it regards as a valid claim and has unilaterally appropriated the right to decide whether or not the provisions of Section 24(1)(b) of the act are to apply.
The court held that the date of delivery of a claim is essential as it determines whether or not the claim has been timeously submitted and there is no provision in the RAF Act which permits the RAF to refuse to accept the delivery or acknowledge receipt of a claim.
The full bench ultimately concluded that the RAF exceeded its powers in issuing and applying the Board Notice in a peremptory way without any statutory authorisation, this decision resulted in victims of motor vehicle accidents being excluded from compensation and did not facilitate the efficient administration of claims but rather created administrative hurdles to stop claims being submitted. These decisions by the RAF were said to have been taken unilaterally in a situation where the RAF was not empowered to make such decisions.
It was held the decisions made by the RAF and the substitution of the RAF 1 Claim form were unlawful and must accordingly be set aside. The court ordered that:
- Regulation 7(1) of the RAF Regulations be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid and be set aside;
- The decisions and actions by the RAF to be reviewed and set aside;
- Any objection or rejection by the RAF of a claim for compensation submitted between 08 March – 15 June 2021 be declared null and void;
- Any claims rejected by the RAF between 08 March to 15 June 2021 for non – compliance with the management directive, board notice and substitution notice of the RAF 1 Form are afforded a period of 6 months to resubmit those claims.
The RAF was ordered to pay the costs of each Applicant on an attorney and client scale, inclusive of costs for the employment of counsel.
Full citation: Mautla and Others v Road Accident Fund and Others (29459/2021)  ZAGPPHC 1843 (6 November 2023)
Full case available at: https://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAGPPHC/2023/1843.html