The Department of Transport published a revised version of the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill, in Government Gazette No. 37612 on 9 May 2014. The Bill provides for a new no-fault benefit scheme and a new Administrator called the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Administrator (RABSA), which will replace the current RAF and compensation system as administered.
In terms of a fundamental overhaul, the legislation proposes that the RAF must be replaced by the RABSA and that the current adversarial system be replaced with a benefit scheme, which is based on the principles of social security and social solidarity.
The key change proposed by the draft legislation is a move away from the insurance-based system of compensation, which has been largely unchanged in South Africa since its inception in 1946, to a system of defined and structured benefits.
The RABS Bill forms part of an initiative to replace the third-party compensation system currently administered by the RAF with a new scheme that is considered to be reasonable, equitable, affordable and sustainable. Beneficiaries will be entitled to medical services and income benefit, but these would be subject to thresholds.
However, there are a range of unresolved issues that needs to be addressed urgently. There is a lack of clarity together with omissions, misperceptions and most of all, a big gap between the legislator, the government institutions responsible, the road accident victims, and the medico-legal industry at large.