Promises of “redistribution without compensation” appear to have taken a serious knock after a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) case overturned a controversial Land Claims Court judgment this past week.
The original 2006 Land Claims Court judgment found that a property’s market value was not the most important consideration when determining compensation for properties identified for land expropriation.
This gave the government and the Land Claims Court the power to pay owners less than market value for the land, as they instead arrived at a price based on other factors, including the use of the land; its historical ownership; and the reason behind the acquisition.
The SCA case has now overturned this ruling after it found that the the Land Claims Court was arbitrarily deciding on amounts, and could not provide good reasons for why it was offering to purchase the land for less than market value.
Speaking to BusinessDay, respondents – the Legal Resources Centre – warned that because the court placed its faith in the valuation of the state expert, it had failed to fully grapple with the issue, and that this might lead to future cases in which the implementation of constitutional principles were determined by valuators and not by courts of law.
However, the applicant’s legal advisor Danie Schutte praised the judgement, calling it a “major breakthrough for farmers”.