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Christo Smith Law Blog

The Supreme Court of Appeal : going all the way

In the matter of Van Heerden v Bronkhorst our firm represented mrs Bronkhorst. The matter emanated from a will of mrs Bronkhorst’s late husband that was lost.  An unsigned copy of the will was later found amoungst the deceased’s papers. At that stage, a much earlier will of the deceased was produced by Absa Bank. In the latter will, which was made by the deceased prior to his marriage to mrs Bronkhorst, she obviously did not inherit anything. All the interested parties to the missing will agreed that the estate be administered in terms of the later will, however one stepdaughter, mrs van Heerden refused.

Mrs Bronkhorst was accordingly forced to launch an application in the Mpumalanga High Court for an order declaring the unsigned copy of the later will to be a true copy of the last will and testament of the deceased. Mrs van Heerden opposed this application but failed to file opposing papers in terms of the rules of court. A default order was subsequently granted. When the order came to the attention of mrs van Heerden and her attorneys, they launched an application to rescind the order, based on the allegation that they had not received notice of the application for the default order, which they regarded as an irregularity. It was also argued on behalf of mrs van Heerden that the unsigned will should be rejected on the basis of various alleged reasons why the deceased would never had made such a will. This application was dismissed by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court, however, the Court granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The matter was argued in the SCA during August 2020 and judgment was handed down on 13 November 2020. The SCA rejected the Appellant’s arguments relating to the alleged irregularities in the proceedings,  held that the Appellant had been duly informed of the date of the hearing on the unopposed roll and that no proper case had been made out for rescinding the judgment. The Appeal was accordingly dismissed with costs.

The Supreme Court of Appeal : going all the way