If a party is dissatisfied with a decision of a Magistrate in a minor civil action, they can apply to the District Court for a review of the decision by a Judge. The application for review must be lodged within 21 days of the Magistrate's decision.
Assistance may be sought from the District Court Registry on how to commence the review, including preparing the forms.
District Court Practice Direction 6.7 gives detailed information about presentation of a case for review. A person asking for a review may submit a written case of no more than 6 pages prior to the hearing, or may address the Court at the hearing. The Court can also re-hear evidence given at the initial hearing.
Unless the Court agrees, lawyers are not permitted to represent the parties. However, lawyers can help with the preparation of the written case, which may be useful to help identify and narrow down issues.
In McLeod v Mitchell  SADC 129, the Court described the “unique nature” of a review, and the requirement of the Court to act “act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities and legal forms”. The Court may affirm the original decision, or rescind it and substitute its own decision. However, it cannot remit the matter back to the Magistrates Court for further hearing, which is sometimes done where there is an appeal in the higher courts. The object of the review is to ensure that the dispute is disposed of with minimal cost, but as fairly as possible.
Ordinarily there is no further right of appeal from the decision of the District Court; the decision is final. In very limited circumstances, a person may ask for a judicial review of the District Court decision, but legal advice should be obtained first.
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