The Johannesburg High Court on Thursday issued a court order setting out the processes in terms of which members of the settling classes and any interested parties should be invited to show cause why the silicosis and tuberculosis class action settlement agreement should not be made an order of court.
This follows the signing of a settlement agreement on May 3 by 48 representatives of the settling classes, who are represented by various law firms, and the companies that are members of the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, including African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater.
The second part of the court process is a further hearing during which the court will consider arguments by the parties to the settlement, as well as arguments by other interested parties, who are granted leave by the court to participate.
This second hearing’s purpose is to determine the fairness and reasonableness of the settlement. The second hearing has been scheduled for May 29 to 31, 2019.
If no one notifies the court that they wish to object to the settlement agreement being made an order of court, the matter is scheduled to be heard earlier – on April 3.
The requirement that any class action settlement should be approved by the court was set out in the May 2016 class action certification judgment issued by the same court.
Both the court order granted on Friday and the settlement agreement set out steps that will need to be followed from this point.
The parties to the settlement agreement can seek an order from the Johannesburg High Court approving the settlement agreement.
This will enable the parties to fulfill the remaining conditions in the settlement agreement, leading ultimately to the establishment of a trust that will be responsible for making payments to all eligible beneficiaries.