By Zerlinda van der Merwe
In this article, we will take a look at the form and content of the application to be completed and submitted to the Community Schemes Ombud Service (“CSOS”) in the event of the need for dispute resolution within community schemes.
In terms of section 38(1) of the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act 9 of 2011 (“the CSOSA”), any person materially affected by a dispute arising in a community scheme may make an application to the CSOS for resolution of the dispute. Can this be done by simply emailing or calling the CSOS? No! There is a prescribed application form that must be completed by an applicant for submission to the CSOS. The form can be found on the website of CSOS, including an explanation of the process of dispute resolution. Once completed, the form must be lodged with the CSOS by physical or electronic delivery, accompanied by the prescribed fee, which is currently R50.00.
The application form can also be found on Paddocks’ newly launched Guide to CSOS Applications for Dispute Resolutions website, http://csosguide.paddocks.co.
The form includes 13 categories of information which is required. Firstly, the name and address of each person that the applicant considers to be affected materially by the application is required. This relates to both the applicant and the respondent, as well as any other materially affected person, who may be neither the applicant or respondent. The requirement for these details means that an applicant cannot be anonymous or be part of group, which does not identify its members.
Let’s take a look at an example to explain this requirement. Should an owner in a sectional title scheme wish to make an application for dispute resolution, they will be the applicant in the process. The other party to the dispute may be the trustees, who will be the respondents. The other members of the scheme may be materially affected persons, who should be listed in the application.
Once the application has been completed and submitted to the CSOS, the CSOS is responsible to notify the respondent and any person listed as being materially affected.
The application must further set out the grounds of which the applicant seeks relief. These grounds are the facts that the applicant believes are important and relevant to the dispute due to be resolved by the CSOS.
All attempts at resolving the dispute internally must be detailed, as the CSOS requires confirmation that the internal remedies available to the parties to a dispute have been exhausted. For example, various meetings may have been held between the parties in order to discuss their dispute and attempt to resolve same, which attempts may have proven unsuccessful, despite reasonable attempts.
The applicant must set out the details of the relief sought. This means that the applicant must set out which order they require in terms of the list of orders available as set out in section 39 of the CSOSA, as well as the action they would like the respondent to take, or cease from taking.
The application may include any relevant supporting documentation, which will add to, explain or clarify the application, such as the scheme’s governance documentation, plans and correspondence. The relevant supporting documentation will depend on the nature of the dispute, and the availability of the documentation required.
If the applicant qualifies for a discount or waiver of the CSOS fees, the request for same must be set out in the application. In this regard, any person or category of persons whose monthly net household income is below R5,500.00 are entitled to a 100% waiver of application and adjudication fees.
Once comprehensively and properly completed, the applicant must declare that the information contained in the application form is true and correct, and may be disclosed in order to resolve the dispute.
Any additional information, relevant to the dispute, may be included at the end of the application form, as an explanation or clarification of any point or issue raised. However, the applicant should be careful not to include irrelevant information and documentation, which may not assist in the resolution of the dispute, as this will only delay the process.
Should you require legal advice in this regard, contact us at Paddocks on 021 686 3950 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.