Notes: eThekwini Municipality & others v Westwood Insurance Brokers (Pty) Ltd: Personal costs against public officials through the lens of Westwood
Authors: Max du Plessis & Muhammad Zakaria Suleman
Affiliations: Senior Counsel, KwaZulu-Natal Bar; Honorary Research Fellow, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Adjunct Professor, Nelson Mandela University; Advocate, KwaZulu-Natal Bar
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 138 Issue 4, p. 731-747
eThekwini Municipality & others v Westwood Insurance Brokers (Pty) Ltd concerns personal costs orders against public officials. The high court sought to extend itself beyond the merits of a tender dispute in its main judgment by engaging in an inquiry about the officials implicated and whether they should be penalised by way of a personal costs order. In its costs judgment, certain individuals within the eThekwini Municipality were mulcted with personal costs orders. On appeal, a full bench cautioned against a court reaching conclusions about officials too quickly and drawing adverse inferences from facts that are not properly pleaded. This is a judgment that has mapped out the procedural steps necessary to make personal costs orders against public officials.