Time limit for review proceedings

In Aurecon South Africa (Pty) Ltd v City of Cape Town (20384/2014) [2015] ZASCA 209, the Supreme Court of Appeal dealt with, inter alia, whether or not the City of Cape Town was entitled to an extension of the 180 day limit to challenge its own decision with regard to the award of a tender.

The City had previously awarded a tender to Aurecon for the decommissioning of the Athlone power station. However, in the face of allegations of irregularities with regard to the evaluation and award of the tender, the City had applied to the Western Cape High Court to have the award reviewed and set aside. The application was granted.

On appeal, Aurecon argued that the City had delayed in bringing proceedings to the High Court. Under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA), a party has no more than 180 days within which to institute review proceedings. The time limit may be extended by a court where the interests of justice so require. Here, the City’s review proceedings had been launched 532 days after the award of the tender to Aurecon.

The SCA observed that the relevant provisions of PAJA did not mean that review proceedings could be launched within 180 days of the City’s only having become aware of any irregularities. This would create prejudice for Aurecon. Moreover, there was a need for finality in relation to administrative decisions such as the award of a tender. The SCA was unable to find any reason for why it would be in the interests of justice to extend the PAJA time limit.

Accordingly, the appeal was upheld with costs.

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