There’s a concept in our law called “jurisdiction”. Broadly speaking, it refers to whether or not a court has the authority to adjudicate on a matter. There are specific indicators that determine whether a court has the jurisdiction, or authority, to make a legally-binding order in a matter, e.g:
- the court located in the district where a contract was entered into would ordinarily have jurisdiction, or the authority to decide upon disputes arising from the contract;
- the court located in the district where the defendant (the person being sued) lives or carries on business would ordinarily have authority to decide on any claims brought against the defendant.
Sipho, who operates his business in Johannesburg, sells goods to Joe, who lives in Durban. They had met each other on conference in Cape Town, which is also where they had both negotiated and concluded their Sale of Goods Agreement. Joe fails to pay Sipho for the goods, so Sipho sues Joe. He can do so: