Makunga v Barlequins Beleggings t/a Indigo Spur | AI in court proceedings

Makunga sued Barlequins Beleggings t/a Indigo Spur for damages arising from a breach of contract. This is a good example of AI in court proceedings. Makunga represented himself and successfully used generative AI and Google to draft his heads of argument. The court dismissed Indigo Spur’s special pleas for prescription.


It prompted the judge to remark: “one day soon, the computers are coming for our jobs”.


Who should care about this judgment and why?


  • Legal practitioners because this highlights how AI can be used in court proceedings and its potential impact AI could have on the way they practice.
  • Future litigants because they may be able to represent themselves in legal proceedings by using generative AI. This is a big step forward in improving access to justice for those who do not have the means to cover the costs of legal fees.


“In a race against time, prescription becomes the timekeeper. In a world with emerging AI tools, there is no need for us to be left behind.”


What could you do about it?


  • You can have a look at the judgment to see what the court thought about the heads of argument drafted by generative AI.


Our insights on the judgment about AI in court proceedings

The judgment’s significance extends beyond the dispute between Makunga and the restaurant.  It offers valuable insights for legal professionals, businesses, and individuals concerned with contractual obligations, prescription, and the evolving landscape of technology.


Generative AI can help with legal paperwork, like drafting pleadings, but it’s important to remember it can’t replace a lawyer’s advice. Even if you use AI tools, you still need a legal expert to make sure your documents are accurate, reliable, and ethical.


This AI tech is still new, and it might take a while before everyone starts using it regularly and correctly. There will likely be new rules created for lawyers about how to use AI with legal documents.


In the long run, search engines like Google and other generative AI tools could make legal services cheaper because they can automate some of the tasks lawyers do now.





Makunga claimed that he had a contract with Indigo Spur to transport its employees, and that Indigo Spur breached the contract by terminating it without notice.


Indigo Spur argued that the claim was prescribed, meaning that it was too late to bring it to court.




The key issue in the case centered on when the debt arose – namely, when Indigo Spur allegedly repudiated the contract, or when Makunga elected to cancel it. However, the court found that Makunga did not accept the repudiation immediately. Instead, he attempted to resolve the issue with Indigo Spur’s director.

Makunga waited until October 31st, 2014 to formally cancel the contract, ensuring his claim fell outside the prescription period. Consequently, the court dismissed Indigo Spur’s defense of prescription and ordered them to cover Makunga’s legal costs.



  • The court ordered that Indigo Spur’s special plea is dismissed.
  • The court ordered Indigo Spur to pay Makunga’s costs.


Details of Makunga v Barlequins Beleggings t/a Indigo Spur


  • Universal citation: [2023] ZAWCHC 332
  • Case number: 19733/2017
  • Full name: Makunga v Barlequins Beleggings (Pty) Ltd t/a Indigo Spur


Read the original publication at Michalsons

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