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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

Chapter 4 : Fair Decision-Making and Conflict Management

17. Reference to Conciliation


(1) Any Minister, MEC or Municipal Council—
(a) where a difference or disagreement arises concerning the exercise of any of its functions which may significantly affect the environment, or
(b) before whom an appeal arising from a difference or disagreement regarding the protection of the environment is brought under any law,

may, before reaching a decision, consider the desirability of first referring the matter to conciliation and—

(i) must if he, she or it considers conciliation appropriate either—
(aa) refer the matter to the Director-General for conciliation under this Act; or
(bb) appoint a conciliator on the conditions, including time-limits, that he, she or it may determine; or
(cc) where a conciliation or mediation process is provided for under any other relevant law administered by such Minister, MEC or Municipal Council, refer the matter for mediation or conciliation under such other law; or
(ii) if he, she or it considers conciliation inappropriate or if conciliation has failed, make a decision: Provided that the provisions of section 4 of the Development Facilitation Act, 1995 (Act No. 67 of 1995), shall prevail in respect of decisions in terms of that Act and laws contemplated in subsection (1)(c) thereof.


(2) Anyone may request the Minister, a MEC or Municipal Council to appoint a facilitator to call and conduct meetings of interested and affected parties with the purpose of reaching agreement to refer a difference or disagreement to conciliation in terms of this Act, and the Minister, MEC or Municipal Council may, subject to section 22, appoint a facilitator and determine the manner in which the facilitator must carry out his or her tasks, including time-limits.


(3) A court or tribunal hearing a dispute regarding the protection of the environment may order the parties to submit the dispute to a conciliator appointed by the Director-General in terms of this Act and suspend the proceedings pending the outcome of the conciliation.