Monthly Archives: August 2014

Trustees of body corporate not allowed to disconnect electricity or water supply to a section as a debt collection measure

A1_BThe default of levy payments is a frequent problem for the trustees of body corporates as well as the managing agent. It is the way in which the defaulting owner is treated and the outstanding debt collected, that will make the difference between a functioning, financially stable sectional title scheme or an impending disaster zone. 

In these testing economic times, monthly levy payments are sometimes considered by owners of sectional title sections to be an optional expense in making ends meet on a tight budget.  Once an owner has got away with defaulting on one payment, habitual default becomes easy, and more so if the trustees and management agent are slow to react to the failure to pay. The problem is worsened by the fact that the monthly levy is carefully calculated prior to the annual general meeting to be the minimum amount possible, in an attempt to accommodate the owners. However, these small monthly levies could easily accrue over a few months to a significant amount, aggravated by interest and reflected as a substantial outstanding debt.

These non-payers place severe financial restraints on the cash flow of a body corporate which is largely dependent on the timeous monthly payments by all its members to fulfil its monthly obligations to, inter alia, municipalities regarding water and common area electricity usage, security, and general upkeep of the property. If the body corporate does not have large financial reserves on which it can rely in the event of default by its members, the impact of the default can be severe and can cause unnecessary hardship for other owners. There are known instances of special levies raised in order to assist the body corporate in its financial hardship.

Many trustees and managing agents, in order to recover outstanding amounts, revert to taking the law into their own hands by cutting off the water and electricity supply to such members’ sections or units. Some have even passed rules which allow for such actions. Justifications for these actions by trustees and management agents are abundant, but none of these are legally sound or will stand in court.

By withholding the water and/or electricity supply to the section, whether or not it is allowed for in the rules, the trustees and management agent not only disregard the owner’s constitutional rights to access to water as well as the provisions of the electricity act, but also specific stipulations of the Sectional Title Act, Act 95 of 1986 as amended (“the Act”) and confirmed in case law. Such trustees and managing agents expose themselves and the trustees in their personal capacity, to an application by the owner and/or the occupier, against the spoliation of such services, or access with a court order for immediate re-connection. The body corporate or management agent may not interfere with water and electricity services rendered to a section or unit. The penalty will be a cost order, if not granted on a punitive scale, red faces, and a lot to answer to at the next annual general meeting.

The Act clearly stipulates in Section 37(2) that trustees must approach by action any court, including the Magistrate’s court, for recovery of any and all contributions levied under the provision of Section 37(1), which include monthly levies, special levies, interest, and legal costs on attorney and client scale.

The trustees and managing agent have no choice herein. Prompt debt collection action taken against any owner immediately on default, will be the best defence. Therefore the trustees must ensure that the appointed management agent either has a proven track record or a detailed collection policy prior to appointment of such agent. We all know that the wheels of justice turn slowly, and that it can take months for the default judgement to be granted and the warrant issued. By delaying the collection process the outstanding levy account increases exponentially, together with the burden on paying owners.

Therefore, the trustees themselves should keep a watchful eye on monthly payments and ensure that defaulting owners are immediately contacted by the management agent and, if they persist in the default, handed over to competent attorneys for collection. The sooner, the better.  The old adage “absentee landlords gather no crops” is fitting, and trustees should ensure that the management agents attend to defaulters speedily and effectively in the interest of both their own property investment and that of the other owners in the sectional title scheme.

For further reading, see the judgement by Blieden J with Serobe AJ concurring in Queensgate Body Corporate vs MJV Claesen delivered on 26 November 1998 in the Witwatersrand Local Division, case number A3076/1998, and case law referred to therein.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

POPI-Wet

A2_BDie konsepwet op die Beskerming van Persoonlike Inligting, waarna algemeen verwys word as die POPI-wet, sal binnekort wetgewing word en is bedoel om die prosessering van persoonlike inligting te reguleer.

Dit moet saamgelees word met ander relevante wette soos:

  1. Elektroniese Kommunikasie en Transaksies Wet 25 van 2002 (‘ECT’)
  2. Bevordering van Toegang tot Inligting Wet 2 van 2002 (‘PAIA’)
  3. Regulering van die Onderskepping van Kommunikasies Wet 70 van 2002 (‘RICA’)
  4. Verbruikers Beskermings Wet 68 van 2008 (‘CPA’)

Gegewe die e-handel en tegnologie wat deur entussen besighede gebruik word, word persoonlike inligting van beide werknemers en kliënte al hoe makliker toeganklik vir derde partye.

POPI beoog om sekere beskermingsbeginsels in te voer ten einde minimumvereistes te stel vir die prosessering van persoonlike inligting. Daar is agt beginsels ter beskerming van inligting vervat in hoofstuk 3 van die konsepwet, naamlik:

Aanspreeklikheid; Beperking op prosessering; Spesifisering van die doel; Beperking op verdere prosessering; Kwaliteit van inligting; Openheid; Sekuriteitsbeheermaatreëls; Deelname van die persoon waarop die inligting betrekking het. 

Die doel is om deursigtigheid te bevorder m.b.t. watter inligting versamel kan word en hoe dit verwerk gaan word. Dit mag dalk die einde beteken van al die ongevraagde bemarkingsoproepe en rommelpos wat ons op ‘n daaglikse basis ontvang.

Prosessering beteken breedweg enigiets wat gedoen word met persoonlike inligting, insluitend insameling, gebruik, bewaring, disseminasie, modifikasie of vernietiging (ongeag of sodanige prosessering outomaties is al dan nie).

POPI-nakoming behels die vaslegging van die minimum vereiste data, die versekering van akkuraatheid en verwydering van data wat nie meer benodig word nie. Hierdie maatstawwe sal waarskynlik die algemene betroubaarheid van ‘n organisasie se databasis verbeter.

Nakoming vereis verder die identifisering van persoonlike inligting en die tref van redelike maatreëls om die data te beskerm, soos  nagaan van die werkvloei van kliënte se dokumente en toesien dat noodsaaklike inligting nie verlê word of in die verkeerde hande beland nie.

Die POPI-wet  strook met soortgelyke wetgewing wat in 70 tot 80 ander lande bestaan. Suid-Afrika is nou gereed om te voldoen aan internasionale standaarde vir die insameling en hantering van persoonlike inligting.

Die Wet beskerm nie net die manier waarop inligting gebruik en/of hergebruik word deur die ontvanger van die inligting nie, maar die party wat die inligting insamel het ook die verantwoordelikheid om seker te maak dat dit akkuraat en aktueel is en nie misleidend is nie.

Persoonlike Inligting mag slegs geprosesseer word as vrywillige, spesifieke en oorwoë toestemming daartoe verkry is.

‘n Reguleerder van Inligtingbeskerming (Information Protection Regulator) wat wye gesag sal hê, sal aangestel word en sal die openbare belang kan opweeg teen ‘n individu se reg op privaatheid.

Daar is egter gevalle waar POPI nie van toepassing sal wees nie. Artikel 4-uitsonderings sluit in:

  1. suiwer huishoudelike of persoonlike aktiwiteite;
  2. inligting wat reeds genoegsaam geïdentifiseer is;
  3. sommige staatsfunksies, insluitend kriminele vervolging, nasionale sekuriteit ens.;
  4. joernalistiek onderworpe aan ‘n etiese kode;
  5. funksies van die regsbank ens.

Verwysings:

  1. http://www.popi-compliance.co.za/
  2. http://www.saaci.co.za/

Hierdie artikel is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet nie gebruik of staatgemaak word op as professionele advies nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade wat voortspruit uit vertroue op enige inligting hierin nie. Kontak atyd jou regsadviseur vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.

 

 

Should I draft a will?

A3_BA mother who has always wanted her daughter to inherit her diamond engagement ring may never get her wish if she dies without leaving a valid written will. The mother’s estate would then be distributed in terms of the Intestate Succession Act No. 81 of 1987.  

Taking the time to draft a will can leave you with the peace of mind that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes as far as possible. Your will should reflect exactly how you want your assets to be dealt with after your death and should not be contra bonos mores (against good morals). It should also not amount to “ruling from the grave”.

There are a number of legal requirements that have to be complied with for a will to be valid.  If it does not comply with all of these requirements it could be found to be invalid. Your estate would then also be dealt with in terms of the Intestate Succession Act of 1987. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you obtain the assistance of someone with the necessary specialised skill and knowledge to assist you with the drafting of your will.

A will should also regularly be revised and updated to adapt to your changing circumstances, for example after getting married, and when there is a child on the way. Section 2B of the Wills Act No. 7 of 1953 (as amended by the Law of Succession Act No. 43 of 1992) deals specifically with a change in marital status by way of divorce, and reads as follows:

If any person dies within three months after his marriage was dissolved by a divorce or annulment by a competent court and that person executed a will before the date of such dissolution, that will shall be implemented in the same manner as it would have been implemented if his previous spouse had died before the date of the dissolution concerned, unless it appears from the will that the testator intended to benefit his previous spouse notwithstanding the dissolution of his marriage.”

This can be explained by way of the following example: A and B get divorced and B dies within three months of the date of the divorce. B’s will was executed before they got divorced. Unless B’s will specifically indicated that A must benefit from B’s estate despite the divorce, B’s estate will then be distributed as if A died before they got divorced. A will therefore not inherit from B’s estate in this scenario. However, should B die more than 3 months after the divorce and B’s will, which benefits A, was not changed, then it will be seen as if B intended A to inherit, despite the divorce.

A person who was previously married and who remarries, should ensure that the necessary changes are made to his/her will. If not, this could have profound consequences for the “new” spouse, especially if the will still benefits the spouse from the previous marriage.

When there are minor children in the picture, it is advisable to make adequate provision for their living costs and education in your will. This can be done by creating a testamentary trust of which the minor children can be beneficiaries.

Thinking and talking about one’s passing is not a pleasant subject. Having a valid, clear and unambiguous will can prevent unpleasant family feuds caused by them having to make decisions about the distribution of your estate. It is certainly worth the time and effort to have a valid written will in place.

References:
Drafting of Wills 2013 – LEAD
Intestate Succession Act 81/1987
Wills Act 7/1953

Compiled by Riëtte Nel

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

 

‘n Duik op jou rekord?

A4_BAngela, ‘n gewone middeljarige vrou met ‘n basiese salaris, bevind haar in ‘n moeilike situasie wat dalk kan veroorsaak dat sy nie in Desember saam met haar familie in Mauritius vakansie kan hou nie. Angela het gou gaan brood koop voordat haar tienerseun uit die skool kom. Toe sy uit haar motor klim, het die kwaai Kaapse wind veroorsaak dat haar motordeur teen die deur van die motor langs haar waai en ‘n groot duik laat. Wat moet Angela doen? Moet sy dit net ignoreer en op ‘n ander plek parkeer? Is dit nie wat baie mense sou doen nie?

In die saak van S v Mpho Vincent Mutobvu 2013 (2) SACR 366 (GNP), het mnr Mutobvu sy motor agteruit uit ‘n parkeerplek getrek toe hy die motor langs hom skraap. Hy het gedink daar was geen skade nie en het toe weggery. ‘n Veiligheidswag het egter gesien wat gebeur het en sy motor se registrasienommer neergeskryf. Die klaagster het mnr Mutobvu deur middel van die registrasienommer opgespoor en hom ingelig dat sy die saak aan die polisie gerapporteer het. Hy het haar voertuig ondersoek, toegegee dat hy skuldig was en aan haar R6 000 vir die herstelkoste betaal. Hulle het saam polisiestasie toe gegaan om die klag terug te trek. Hulle is ingelig dat mnr Mutobvu eers R500 moes betaal voordat die saak teruggetrek kon word. Mnr Mutobvu het die R500 betaal en aanvaar dat dit ‘n gewone boete is. Hy was onder die indruk dat die saak hiermee afgehandel is.

Kort na die ongeluk het mnr Mutobvu ‘n onderhoud gehad vir ‘n nuwe pos by ‘n mynmaatskappy. Hy is toe ingelig dat hy nie die werk kon kry nie vanweë sy kriminele rekord. Van watter kriminele rekord praat die mense? Hy het na die Kriminele Rekord Sentrum in Pretoria gegaan en is ingelig dat die R500 wat hy gemeen het ‘n boete was, eintlik ‘n skulderkenning was kragtens Artikel 57 van die Strafproseswet 51 van 1977. Hy het erken dat hy Artikel 61 (1) (a) van die Wet op Nasionale Padverkeer 93 van 1966 oortree het – versuim om te stop na ‘n ongeluk. Sy kriminele rekord sou eers na tien jaar uitgewis word. Mnr Mutobvu het toe aansoek gedoen om ‘n spesiale hersiening, want hy het gevoel dat hy nie die kriminele rekord verdien nie.

In S v Cedras 1992 (2) SACR 530C in 531j-532b is die volgende bevind ten opsigte van ‘n hof se benadering tot ‘n hersiening:

“In sulke gevalle moet die vraag altyd wees of daar oorwegings van billikheid en regverdige handelswyse is wat die hof verplig om in te gryp om ‘n moontlike mislukking van geregtigheid te voorkom. Daar moet bewyse voor die hof wees van die waarskynlikheid van sodanige onbillikheid, sou die hof nie tussenbeide tree nie. ’n Hof moet tevrede wees dat die skulderkenning waarskynlik foutief was en die beskuldigde of ‘n persoon wat namens hom ‘n eed aflê, moet ‘n bevredigende verduideliking gee van hoe dit gebeur het dat die skulderkenning verkeerdelik gemaak is. Goeie gronde moet aangevoer word vir kondonering van die fout wat gemaak is met die skulderkenning. Daar moet bevind word dat, as die aanklag tot ‘n verhoor sou lei, die beskuldigde ‘n waarskynlike verweer teen die aanklag sou hê en dat sy geagte skuldigbevinding of vonnis gevolglik waarskynlik nie in ooreenstemming met geregtigheid is nie.”

Mnr Mutobvu het gesê dat hy nie regsverteenwoordiging gehad het toe hy onwetend skuld erken het wat gelei het tot die kriminele rekord nie. Hy het ook gesê dat hy vir die skade betaal het en dat die klaagster aanvaar het dat die klag teruggetrek word. Die hof het verklaar dat “in alle omstandighede sal ek die betaling van die skulderkenningsboete en daaropvolgende skuldigbevinding en vonnis tersyde stel en beveel dat die boete aan die beskuldigde terugbetaal word”. Mnr Mutobvu se kriminele rekord is geskrap en die R500 is aan hom terugbetaal.

‘n Kriminele rekord is nie iets wat mens ligtelik moet opneem nie. Die eerste klag mag jou dalk nie in die tronk laat beland nie maar dit kan jou in baie ander ongemaklike situasies plaas. As Angela besluit om weg te ry van haar ongeluk kan sy ook ‘n kriminele rekord kry, en dit sou beteken geen Mauritius-vakansie vir haar nie. Geen persoon met ‘n kriminele rekord mag die land verlaat nie, want hy/sy word as ‘n gevaar beskou, en dit is dan byna onmoontlik om geskikte werk te vind. Iets so eenvoudig soos ‘n duik in ‘n motordeur kan jou hele lewe verander. My raad aan Angela sou wees om vir die eienaar van die voertuig te wag of ‘n nota te laat met haar versekeringsbesonderhede. Haar situasie is soos ‘n TV-lisensie: betaal dit, dis die regte ding om te doen!

Hierdie artikel is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet nie gebruik of staatgemaak word op as professionele advies nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade wat voortspruit uit vertroue op enige inligting hierin nie. Kontak atyd jou regsadviseur vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.