The Land Claims Court has in essence confirmed that a valuation by the Valuer-General would not replace the role of the courts as the final arbitrator when compensation for expropriation is calculated, the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said in its latest newsletter.
It bases this view on the judgment handed down by the Land Claims Court in February in the case of Moloto Community versus Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform and Others.
According to Agbiz, the court has effectively confirmed that a valuation by the Valuer-General does not exclude the jurisdiction of the courts in determining just and equitable compensation.
"Although the Property Valuation Act does not use the terms 'compensation' or 'expropriation' once in its provisions, the term 'value' was defined in a manner which mirrors the calculation of compensation for expropriation," states Agbiz.
"This in turn sparked fears that the Valuer-General, using a formula promulgated by regulation, would determine the amount of compensation to which a property owner or bond holder would be due if they were to be expropriated for land reform purposes."
Agbiz said that, on analysing the law, experts have long held the belief that the Valuer-General cannot determine compensation to the exclusion of the court and merely informs the expropriating authority what offer to make or to assist in the investigative phase prior to expropriation.
"The Constitution states that compensation must ultimately be agreed upon, determined or approved by a court of law," said Agbiz.
"Although procedural aspects prevented the point from being argued at length before the court, it was noted that there was nothing in the act which the court could identify expressly that excludes its jurisdiction."