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Perjury in the court papers

I have had a few cases where one party alleges that the other has committed perjury on the court papers. What can the party do in such a case?

In one case, my client launched a Rule 43 application against her husband for interim maintenance and a contribution to her legal fees. Her husband then got his attorney to file an opposing affidavit.

In a previous letter we had asked her husband for details on the value of his estate. He indicated his estate to be valued at R2 million. However, in our affidavit we averred that his estate was valued R2 million, and then in his opposing affidavit he denied that.

The above case was clearly one of perjury. An affidavit is a document signed under oath, and he had lied in that document, contradicting what he had admitted in a previous letter.

I requested from his attorney a detailed explanation via a letter as to why what was admitted in a letter was later denied, within ten days of receipt of the letter, failing which my instructions were to proceed to lay charges of perjury against their client. The letter was furthermore not protected by privilege and my instructions were to file a supplementary affidavit in this regard at court.

In another matter of mine I had been similarly consulted by a client, a man this time. It was also relating to perjury in a Rule 43 application.

My client in the above case had been served with a Rule 43 application. His wife had not given a true reflection of what her monthly expenses were.

The wife averred in her affidavit, for example, that one of her monthly expenses was her child's school fees. This was not in fact the case. My client had always paid the school fees.

The wife in the above case also claimed that a BMW motor vehicle had been given to her as a gift by my client. This was totally devoid of any truth. The BMW was registered in my client's name, and he had merely given his wife the use of the vehicle. She only paid for petrol, and he paid for maintenance and insurance.

I advised my client that we should open a case of perjury against his wife. We did so and were successful.

Perjury is a very serious crime. It is a criminal offence to lie in court papers. I always advise my clients to give a truthful explanation of events, assets and expenses. If we don't do that there is always a chance of being taken to court for perjury.

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