How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape High Court divorces

Anybody going through a divorce will at some stage or other prior to the trial be instructed by his or her attorney on the so-called Rule 37 questionnaire. This is however only in the event of the matter being heard in the High Court.

Different provinces have different court rules but in the Cape High Court the Rule 37 questionnaire is a requirement for purposes of securing a trial date. The Southern Divorce Court is a lower court to get divorced in and a different set of rules applies in that court, where the Rule 37 Questionnaire is not required.

The aim of the Rule 37 Questionnaire is to provide the court with full details of the nature of the case so that the registrar of the court is in a suitable position to allocate a trial date. A trial date will not be allocated without one of the attorneys having filed at court the rule 37 questionnaire.

One of the first questions to be answered in the rule 37 questionnaire is as to whether “discovery” and “inspection” have been completed. Discovery is where the parties have exchanged all documentary information which they intend to use at the trial. This is of paramount importance for the courts in hearing a divorce trial.

Another question in the Rule 37 questionnaire would be if any replies to requests for particulars of trial in respect of the pleading are outstanding. The request for particulars for trial are where one attorney requires from the other information necessary for the trial.

In the questionnaire further questions to be answered are as to whether you have received all particulars that you require, and, if not, whether you have requested them. The questionnaire also asks whether you at present intend to amend your pleading, and if so when, and whether you can make any additional admissions.

Quite important in the questionnaire is where they ask what the important issues in the action are. These may relate to maintenance for the minor children and division of the assets. It is important here also to indicate to the court whether any of these issues are capable of resolution by agreement and, if so, whether steps have been taken to seek the required agreement.

The questionnaire also asks on what issues you may wish to call expert evidence, and how many experts you expect to call. You also must indicate the names of the experts, the nature of their expertise and the topics upon which each will testify.

The questionnaire also asks what the estimate of length of the trial is and what the earliest date is that you believe you can be ready for trial. The pleadings in the court file must have a proper index. Another question is whether the parties have considered mediation or another alternative dispute resolution procedure.

The rule 37 questionnaire is interesting and effective. It is really in the interests of all the parties involved in the trial and is there to ensure that the matter is indeed ready for trial. It is there also to ensure that the court’s time is not wasted when a matter is set down for trial when it is not actually ripe for hearing.


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