When interpreting a statutory provision, one must proceed from the fundamental premise that meaning must be given to every word (provided the context lends itself to such meaning). The rationale for this principle is that a statute is not taken to use words without meaning. No clause, sentence or word must be construed to be superfluous, void or insignificant.
In Road Accident Fund legislation the legislature provides that if action is instituted in the Magistrate’s Court for a less serious injury which proves to be serious enough to go to the High Court, the matter will prescribe unless the claimant withdraws the Magistrate’s Court action and “within 60 days of such withdrawal, institutes an action in a High Court with appropriate jurisdiction over the matter”. The words “within 60 days of such withdrawal” are crucial words that cannot be ignored (as was done in other judgments in the matter).
In the circumstances it was held that the matter had not prescribed because the lower court proceedings were not withdrawn before the High Court proceedings commenced.