All laws and court orders must be written in a clear and accessible way. Vague laws or court orders violate the rule of law, which is a founding principle of our Constitution.

In Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs v Kloof Conservancy, the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside part of a court order because it was so open ended and vague. The order required the Minister “to do all such things and take all such steps as are necessary, and as are within their authority under the law, to ensure that all organs of State in every sphere of Government” complied with and implemented the law. The court was not prepared to countenance the fact that the Minister could be subject to the potential threat of contempt proceedings where there were no objectively defined criteria to determine the extent of the obligations.

Banks often are expected to implement convoluted court orders relating to bank accounts, arising from court disputes between the directors of a company or CC members or rival factions of an organisation. This judgment can be used by banks to oppose unduly vague or complex relief claimed by one of the disputing parties. If the relief claimed will not result in a clear order, the bank will be able to contend, on the basis of this judgment, that it would be incompetent for the court to grant such relief.