Guarantees and contingent liabilities

  (R’million) 2021 2020
  Guarantees (unutilised) 23,4 20,1


Guarantees exist against the company for the obligations of certain subsidiaries amounting to R3,6 million at 30 September 2021 (2020: R3,5 million).

Contingent liabilities

The Class Action against the company arising from the outbreak of listeriosis was certified by the High Court on 3 December 2018. Summons was issued on 16 April 2019. A plea was filed by the company on 8 August 2019. The parties are now engaged in pre-trial preparation while subpoenas were issued for the disclosure of information by third parties, which is pertinent to the outbreak.

In June 2020, the High Court (Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg) ruled in favour of the company, compelling the third parties including, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), two accredited national laboratories and various meat producers to provide epidemiological information required for the Class Action lawsuit. All of the third parties (except the SABS) who applied for leave to appeal against the High Court decision were granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on 15 September 2020. The appeal was heard on 5 November 2021 and judgment has been reserved.

Pending the outcome of the appeal the parties have continued to attend to pre-trial preparations, including discovery in terms of the Rules of Court.

As previously confirmed, the company has product liability insurance cover appropriate for a group of its scale. Coverage is subject to the terms and limits of the policy. Our insurers have advised that the product liability policy does not include cover for exemplary or punitive damages should such an award be made by the court and in addition, should an award be made for constitutional damages, the product liability policy will not cover that portion of the award which relates to exemplary or punitive damages not compensatory in nature. The company reserves its rights in this regard.

The quantum of claims that may be awarded to the plaintiffs will be determined once liability is confirmed by the courts at the first stage of the Class Action. As liability and the quantum of claims are yet to be determined by the courts, it will be impractical to disclose any estimate of the financial effects of the Class Action claims on the company at this time.