Because a large proportion of the work conducted in our practice relates to personal injury claims for compensation from The Road Accident Fund, it is appropriate for us in these columns to share with you, the reader, some of the more interesting and controversial happenings we encounter with that body. This particular article will highlight two of the most recent encounters which have confronted us.
We cite to you the case of Mr P who was injured in a motor collision with serious consequences. Part of the claim related to the loss of earnings which he sustained and the impact that his injuries will have its own far as his the future employment is concerned. This matter eventually came to trial a few months ago. On the day before trial, the Fund ably represented by one of its more illustrious firms of panel Attorneys, who conduct their practice from a very opulent suite of offices in the northern suburbs of Rosebank Johannesburg, requested that we furnish them with a number of salary pay slips from Mr P's former employers.
They indicated that with this information, they were set and ready to submit to us an attractive offer of settlement. Unfortunately Mr P did not retain copies of his pay slips which go back several years and of course the difficult task of obtaining this information and collecting it from his former employer rested with us. This request was made, notwithstanding the fact that amongst the documents be presented to the Fund, was a certificate signed by the former employer verifying the employment of Mr P with it and the salary he earned. The attorney submitted that without this set of pay slip documents her Client was not able to complete the task of assessing how much compensation to pay Mr P.Of course, we made an urgent contact with the employer, to be informed by those in charge that it was impossible to obtain this information immediately as they were undertaking stock taking and the gathering of the information listed would have to be conducted in their archives. We were informed that this process will take approximately 2 weeks to complete. Undaunted, The Road Accident Fund insisted that it could not complete its assessment without these documents but under took that if these documents were supplied to them, they would be in a very short period of time complete the assessment and submit an offer. Their attorney convincingly assured us that the matter should be postponed pending the furnishing of this information, that the costs of the quantum aspect of the case be reserved, and that upon receipt of the information, she was certain her client would not delay in submitting an offer. The matter was postponed on this understanding.
Upon the postponement, we made every effort to gather the required documentation as quickly as possible and even went to the lengths of driving through to the offices of the employer on the East Rand to collect the required documents. We immediately submitted them to the Attorney.
After the elapse of a period of two weeks, we telephoned the attorney and were assured that the documents were received and had been sent on to the client for scrutiny, but that she had not received any further communication from the Client. We gave the attorney a further two week period within which to obtain instructions and after the elapse of the extended two week period no further communication or offer of settlement was forthcoming.
In the circumstances we resolved to petition the Court request in that it hand down an order that the costs of the postponement paid by the Fund as it had not furnished its attorneys with instructions as promised. Upon service of the application both on The Fund and its attorney, a telephonic discussion between us and the attorney concerned ensued. We were brusquely informed that if we believed that the launching of this application would motivate the Fund to submit its offer of settlement, we were mistaken. On the day prior to the hearing of this application the Fund instructed its attorney to deliver to us a notice signifying its intention to oppose the application. Of necessity the application was adjourned two weeks in order to enable the Fund to file a reply to the application and give its grounds of opposition thereto.
A further period of two weeks elapsed since the postponement of the application with out any further documents been filed by the Fund and on the day of the hearing its attorney conceded the application and the appropriate costs order we sought was granted.