Responding to legal documents

Sections in this chapter:

What is a Notice of Motion?

A Notice of Motion is a document that outlines the details of your legal proceedings. It is important that you understand these details and respond correctly.‌ A Notice of Motion will be delivered and explained to you by the Sheriff. You will be asked to sign and confirm you have received and understand the notice. A Founding Affidavit will also be delivered and should be attached to the Notice of Motion. After you have received a Notice of Motion you should seek legal advice immediately.

A Notice of Motion should contain the following details:

You must go to court on the date specified. If you fail to appear in court, the judge can rule against you in your absence. This is known as a default judgement.

What is a Founding Affidavit?

A Founding Affidavit is a document delivered along with the Notice of Motion that contains the reasons (grounds) your landlord has given for your eviction as well as the facts they will be relying on.

Receiving and responding to a Notice of Motion

Once you receive a notice of motion, the legal process has begun. You need to act immediately and seek legal advice and assistance.

You should seek legal advice immediately. For free advice and support on how to proceed from here, attend the Reclaim the City Advice Assembly.

Reclaim the City Advice Assembly

Reclaim the City holds a weekly Advice Assembly in various locations around Cape Town. This is a place for people who are facing eviction to gather, share, and get advice and support from legal professionals and other tenants who have gone through an eviction before. Learn more about the Advice Assembly here.

Take Action

Ask the sheriff to explain all the documents to you

The sheriff of the court will deliver the Notice of Motion and Founding Affidavit to your home personally. It is important that you ask the sheriff to explain all documents to you fully. Do not sign until you know exactly what you are signing.

Find legal representation or advice

It is important that you seek legal advice or representation immediately. Once you receive your Notice of Motion, it means legal proceedings have officially begun.

Go to court

If you do not appear in court on the day of your hearing, you will be evicted! Whether or not you have found a lawyer, you must go to court and oppose your eviction. Opposing your eviction is covered in the next chapter.

Request a postponement to find legal representation

Everyone has the right to legal representation (a lawyer). If you do not have a lawyer, you must request a postponement from the judge in order for you to find legal representation. You should also show the court proof that you have attempted to find legal representation, as they will be more likely to grant a postponement if they can see that you are making an effort.

Attend an Advice Assembly

Knowledge is key to understanding and navigating the eviction process. Go to the Reclaim the City Advice Assembly to learn more about what to do after you have received a Notice of Motion.

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How to oppose your eviction