THE government has increased the amount of money involved in cases that come before the small claims courts.
The new regulations were published in the Government
Gazette of July 30.
However, the directive was not being applied, as the issue had not been finalised.
The increase, which was done under Statutory Instrument 159 of 2004, will see the amount under the claims court jurisdiction being reviewed from the initial $15 000 to $15 million.
The amount under the court jurisdiction was found to be insufficient as it had been eroded by hyperinflation.
According to civic bodies the move will ease the backlog of claim cases currently before the understaffed courts.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) welcomed the move, saying it would go a long way towards matching the current inflation levels.
CCZ public relations officer Tonderai Mukeredzi said the review would allow consumers access to the courts in light of the continued rise in prices of legal practitioners.
“As CCZ we believe the review will significantly assist many consumers access the court, particularly those who could not afford lawyers but could not go to the court due to the monetary limit,” Mukeredzi said.
He said although the recent changes were welcome his organisation felt more could be done towards the plight of the consumer.
He said the organisation would continue to lobby for such changes as the decentralization of the country’s claims court, which are currently found in Bulawayo and Harare to make them more accessible to a wider section of the county’s population.
“The CCZ would still like to appeal to government for the decentralization of the courts to make them more accessible to a wider section of the population than is at the moment,” Mukeredzi said.
The small claims courts were set up by government in 1993 and empowered by the Small Claims Act, Chapter 7:12 to redress issues and disputes with a certain value.
Until the review the court was only allowed to handle cases with a value of up to $50 000.
The CCZ was recently allocated $1,3 billion by the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, up from $94 million for its activities. – Staff Writer.