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High Court Application: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries vs. South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society

High Court Application: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries vs. South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society

On 29 June 2018, the Registrar of Animal Improvement filed a court application in which he applied to the Court to, amongst others, set aside his 2012 decision to register the South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society.

This matter was discussed during the SABBS Annual General Meeting of 11 October 2019. The minutes reflect:

The Registrar launched a court application and requested the court to set aside, amongst other matters, the decision he made when he registered SABBS as a breeder’s society. The Registrar stated that he made mistakes in that he omitted to ask for a breed standard at the time of SABBS’ application.”

SABBS had no choice but to oppose his application. Therefore, after waiting until November 2018 for properly served documents, SABBS filed opposing affidavits on 5 March 2019 following court rules. By the 2019 SABBS AGM, the chairman reported:

The Registrar had 60 days to respond to it [the opposing affidavits], and then thereafter the case will be put on the roll.

At this stage the Registrar has not yet responded.”

The Registrar’s response was finally filed on 12 December 2019, seven months after that deadline expired.

A court date has been set

The case has been placed on the roll to be heard on 22 February 2021 in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria.

Our case

In short, it does not matter what the Registrar claims he did right or wrong. What does matter, is the Law, and here we understand the Animal Improvement Act, 62 of 1998 (AIA), to be very clear: the AIA does not require breed standards when applying to be registered as a breeders’ society.

What the AIA says:

The AIA prescribes the documents that are required for the registration of a breeders’ society. These requirements were met in the application that was made to the Registrar in 2012. Note the portions we have highlighted in the sections quoted below.

8 Registration or approval

(2) A group of persons who desires to be registered as an animal breeder's society shall apply to the registrar in the form determined by the registrar and in the prescribed manner, and such application shall be accompanied by the constitution of the animal breeders' society, and the prescribed application fee.”

11 Animal breeders' society

(1) A group of persons may be registered as an animal breeders' society if -

(c) the constitution of such group of persons specifically provides -

(i) for the promoting, breeding, recording or registration, genetic improvement and use of a kind of animal or an animal of a specified breed of such kind of animal;

(ii) for the determination and the application of breed standards, and for the recommendation, in its sole discretion, to a registering authority of the recording or the registration of an animal or of a specified breed bred or imported into the Republic;

(iii) for the continued commitment to animal improvement;

(iv) for the manner in which the constitution may be amended; …”

Since coming into operation in September 2014, SABBS has indeed determined and applied the Boerboel breed standards, as provided for in its constitution and required by the AIA. The first official breed standards of the Society were adopted at the Society’s first General Meeting in 2014, by a majority vote of a duly constituted quorum of members present at the meeting. Since then, changes were also made in accordance with the constitution, as required by the AIA.

SABBS has, from the first, followed the law.

Financial Contributions

On 20 June 2018, the SABBS board sent out a letter, calling on SABBS members to make voluntary contributions to assist SABBS with the financial impact of the court case between the DAFF and SABBS.

We thank our members for their contributions thus far.


We remain confident of the strength of our case and foresee a positive outcome. Members will be advised of the outcome once we get feedback from our legal team.

Kind regards


Nico Kilian
Acting Chairman