Monthly Archives: December 2015

Can somebody take the law into his/her own hands?

A5_bThe mandament van spolie is a summary remedy, usually issued upon urgent application, aimed at restoring control of property to the applicant from whom it was taken through unlawful self-help, without investigating the merits of the parties’ rights to control.

From the definition above it is evident that this remedy is unique, because it is not used to protect rights at all. The mandament van spolie is a unique remedy aimed at undoing the results of the taking of property by means of self-help. The idea is that people should enforce and protect their property rights by legal means and procedure, and not by self-help and force, because self-help eventually results in chaos and anarchy. For this reason it is usually said that this remedy is based upon the principle that nobody is allowed to take the law into his/her own hands. Due to its aim of restoring peace and order and discouraging self-help, the spoliation remedy does not investigate the merits of any of the parties’ interest in the property and neither of the parties is allowed to raise the question of rights. The court is simply concerned with the factual investigation, namely whether there is proof of existing control and proof of unlawful spoliation of that control. If there was in fact existing control and unlawful spoliation the court will order the spoliator to restore the spoliated control to the applicant immediately, regardless of whether that control was in fact unlawful or even legal.

The spoliation remedy is aimed at preserving peace and order in the community. People cannot be permitted to circumvent the remedy by contract. Parties to a contract cannot agree that one of them will be permitted to take property from the other without proper legal procedure. The requirements for this remedy were set out in two classic decisions that are still the most important authorities in this regard, namely Nino Bonino v De Lange 1906(T) and Yeko v Qana 1973(A).

  1. Proof that the applicant was in peaceful and undisturbed control of the property. The first requirement means that the applicant had control over the property in question. For purposes of the spoliation remedy this control must have existed “peacefully and undisturbed” for a period long enough, and in a manner stable enough, to qualify any unlawful disturbance of the peace. The requirement that the control must have been peaceful and undisturbed does not refer to its legal merits, but simply to the fact that it must have been relatively stable and enduring. If not, there can hardly be a question of disturbance of the situation
  2. Proof that the respondent took or destroyed that control by means of unlawful self-help or spoliation. The second requirement for the spoliation remedy is that the existing peaceful and undisturbed control must have been unlawfully spoliated by the respondent.

One can, therefore, safely say that possession is 90% of the law. The reason for this is that spoliation is not permitted in our law. The person must use the legal processes at his disposal and cannot take the law into his own hands.

References:

A J van der Walt & G J Pienaar: Introduction to property law, 5th edition, pg 218-223.

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Betaal jou heffings, of anders …

A4_bGeagte mnr. Prokureur

Ek is ‘n eienaar van ‘n deeltiteleenheid. Voordat die water deur die plafon begin sypel het, was my heffings elke maand stiptelik betaal, soos vereis deur die beheerliggaam. Hierdie lekkasie in my eenheid was duidelik veroorsaak deur ‘n defek op die gemeenskaplike eiendom. Ek het by verskeie geleenthede die beheerliggaam versoek om die probleem op te los en die lekkasie te herstel. Na vier maande se e-posse en briewe was daar geen terugvoer oor hierdie eenvoudige versoek nie. As ‘n gefrustreerde en desperate eienaar het ek dus ‘n kontrakteur genader om die lekkasie in die eiendom te herstel en het ek die rekening daarvoor uit my eie sak betaal.

Mag ek hierdie uitgawe verreken teen my maandelikse heffings?

Geagte mnr. Eienaar

Hoewel verrekening teen die heffings redelik en regverdig mag voorkom, is die reg om betalings te weerhou of om skulde teen heffings te verreken, onregmatig.

Daar is geen bepaling vervat in die Wet op Deeltitels 95 van 1986 of die voorgeskrewe reëls wat aan ‘n eienaar die reg gee om heffings te weerhou nie. Selfs in die geval waar die eienaar persoonlik koste aangegaan het om nood-herstelwerk op die gemeenskaplike eiendom te doen, is die eienaar steeds net geregtig om heffings te verreken waar die bedrag verskuldig ‘n likiede bedrag is.

‘n Bedrag kan slegs as likied beskryf word in gevalle waar die beheerliggaam skriftelik op die bedrag ooreengekom het. ‘n Eienaar kan nie bloot bedrae wat hy glo verskuldig is, teen heffings verreken nie; die bedrag moet bevestig word deur die trustees, ‘n regter of ‘n arbiter.

Indien mnr. Eienaar bloot sy heffings terughou sonder dat die bedrag likied is, is hy onderhewig aan die volgende sanksies:

  • Die trustees is geregtig om rente op agterstallige bedrae te hef teen ‘n koers wat deur hulle bepaal word. Gevolglik kan die eienaar ‘n baie groter rekening verwag weens die rente op agterstallige heffings wat oploop.
  • Verder plaas die Deeltitelwet ‘n positiewe verpligting op trustees om agterstallige heffings in te vorder. Nie alleen kan die Beheerliggaam of trustees rente op agterstallige heffings hef nie, maar die aangeleentheid kan verwys word na die skema se prokureurs om te dagvaar vir alle koste wat die regspersoon met die invordering van sodanige agterstallige betalings aangegaan het.
  • Die voorgeskrewe reëls bepaal ook dat, behalwe in die gevalle van spesiale en anonieme besluite, ‘n eienaar wat agterstallig is met sy maandelikse heffings nie toegelaat sal word om te stem vir gewone besluite wat betrekking het op die deel van die gemeenskaplike eiendom waarop hy sy heffings weerhou nie.

Wat is die korrekte manier om ‘n situasie te hanteer waar die eienaar van mening is dat die Beheerliggaam verantwoordelik is vir betaling?

Eerstens moet die eienaar ‘n dispuut verklaar met die Beheerliggaam deur skriftelike kennisgewing van die geskil of navraag aan die trustees of Beheerliggaam te rig. Die trustees het dan 14 dae vanaf ontvangs om die geskil op te los. Gedurende hierdie tydperk moet die eienaar en die trustees poog om saam te werk om sodoende die geskil by te lê. As daar na die 14-dag tydperk geen oplossing vir die dispuut gevind is nie kan enige party eis dat die geskil / klagte verwys word vir arbitrasie. Die arbiter moet sy/haar toekenning of aanbevelings hieroor maak binne 7 dae vanaf die datum van die aanvang van die geskil. Die besluit van die arbiter is finaal en bindend en kan ‘n bevel van die Hooggeregshof gemaak word.

Dit is dus duidelik dat daar wél voorgeskrewe prosesse in plek is om dispute en verwante situasies te hanteer. Nie alleenlik sal dit verseker dat jy binne die wetlike riglyne optree nie, maar dit sal ook baie onnodige frustrasie uitskakel. 

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

Rights and responsibilities of unmarried fathers

A3_bThe rights and responsibilities of biological fathers who were not married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or birth can be uncertain. In this article we will discuss when a biological father obtains rights and responsibilities towards their child(ren).

Alissa has a 7-year-old son called Jessie. Alissa had been living with her boyfriend, Mike, for 2 years when Jessie was born. Alissa and Mike were never married and Mike left their common home when Jessie was only 1 year old. Mike makes contact with Jessie and contributes some small amounts towards his maintenance every few months. Alissa would like to know what rights and responsibilities Mike has towards Jessie.

Section 20 of the Children’s Act (“the Act”) confers parental responsibilities and rights on married fathers if they are married to the child’s mother or if they were married at either the time of the child’s conception, birth or any time between conception and birth.

The biological father of a child who does not have parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child in terms of Section 20 of the Act can acquire these responsibilities and rights if one of the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • at the time of the child’s birth he is living with the mother in a permanent life partnership; or
  • if he consents to be identified; or
  • he successfully applies in terms of Section 26 of the Act to be identified as the father; or
  • he pays damages in terms of customary law; or
  • if he contributes or has attempted in good faith to contribute to the child’s upbringing for a reasonable period; or
  • if he has contributed or attempted in good faith to contribute towards expenses in connection with the maintenance of the child for a reasonable period.[1]

It may be difficult to determine whether two persons are in a permanent life partnership or not. This term lacks a precise definition and has been described as “a stable monogamous relationship where a couple who do not wish to (or are not permitted to) marry, live together and share an intimate relationship” that is akin to marriage. The Constitutional Court has given limited recognition to the relationships labelled as “life partnerships” or “permanent life partnerships”, but no specific meaning has been attached to these terms.[2]

It is important to note that this section applies regardless of whether the child was born before or after the commencement of this Act, and that it does not affect the duty of a father to contribute towards the maintenance of the child.[3]

If there is a dispute between the biological father and the biological mother of a child with regard to the fulfillment by that father of the conditions set out above, the matter must be referred for mediation to a family advocate, social worker, social service professional or other suitably qualified person. Any party to the mediation may have the outcome of the mediation reviewed by a court.[4]

From this article we can see that the only clear responsibility of Mike is that of paying maintenance to support Jessie. Due to the fact that the definition of a permanent life partnership is so vague, Mike and Alissa should refer this matter to one of the abovementioned mediators to obtain certainty about Mike’s rights and responsibilities towards Jessie.

References:

  • The Children’s Act 38 of 2005
  • Du Bois F, Willie’s Principle of South African Law (2007), 9th

[1] Section 21 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

[2] Du Bois F, Willie’s Principle of South African Law (2007), 9th ed., p363.

[3] Section 21(2) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

[4] Section 21(3) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Opskortende voorwaardes in ‘n koopkontrak: Weet wat jou verpligtinge is?

A2_bStel jou voor dat jy ‘n koopkontrak onderteken om jou droomhuis te koop en later uitvind dat die kontrak verval het, omdat jou verband een dag te laat goedgekeur is. Die situasie kan verder vererger word indien die Verkoper ‘n beter aanbod vir sy eiendom ontvang en die beter aanbod aanvaar.

Indien ‘n koopkontrak onderhewig gemaak word aan die vervulling van ‘n opskortende voorwaarde sal sodanige kontrak verval indien daar nie betyds aan die voorwaarde voldoen word nie. Dit is bevestig in die saak van Marais v Kovacs Investments 724 (Pty) Ltd [2009] 1 All SA 174 (C) (hierna “die Marais-saak” genoem). Daar is dan geen kontrak tussen die partye vir die koop van die eiendom nie en die Verkoper is vry om die eiendom aan ‘n derde party te verkoop.

Voorbeelde van ‘n opskortende voorwaarde is die verkryging van verbandgoedkeuring of die verkoop van die Koper se bestaande eiendom voor ‘n sekere datum. Dit is baie belangrik vir sowel die Koper as die Verkoper om te let op die bewoording van hierdie klousules en seker te maak dat albei partye hulle verpligtinge verstaan.

Die volgende is ‘n voorbeeld van die bewoording van ‘n opskortende voorwaarde met betrekking tot die goedkeuring van ‘n verband, soms ook na verwys as die “verbandvoorwaarde”- klousule:

Hierdie Koopkontrak is onderhewig daaraan dat die Koper verbandgoedkeuring van ‘n finansiële instansie bekom ten bedrae van  R1 500 000 voor 2 Desember 2013, by gebreke waarvan hierdie ooreenkoms sal verval.

Sou, in die bogenoemde voorbeeld, ‘n verband vir die bedrag van R1 400 000, met ander woorde R100 000 minder as die vereiste bedrag, goedgekeur word voor 2 Desember 2013, sal daar nie aan die voorwaarde voldoen word nie en sal die kontrak dus verval. Net so, indien ‘n verband ten bedrae van R1 500 000 eers op 5 Desember 2013 goedgekeur word, sal daar nie betyds aan die voorwaarde voldoen word nie, en sal die kontrak ook verval, soos bevestig in die saak van Meyer v Barnardo and another 1984 (2) SA 580 (N).

Die partye kan egter ooreenkom om die tyd waarbinne die opskortende voorwaarde vervul moet word, te verleng. Sodanige verlenging moet op skrif gestel en onderteken word deur beide die Verkoper en die  Koper, soos per die vereistes van die Wet op Vervreemding van Grond 68 van 1981. Dit moet ook gedoen word voordat die tydperk waarvoor voorsiening gemaak word in die opskortende voorwaarde, verstryk het. In die bogenoemde voorbeeld sou dit beteken dat die partye die verlengingsdokument voor 2 Desember 2013 sal moet onderteken om te voorkom dat die koopkontrak verval. In die Marais-saak het die hof bevind dat selfs indien die opskortende voorwaarde in die koopkontrak gevoeg was tot die uitsluitlike voordeel van die Koper, die Koper sy voorneme om van die vereistes van die klousule afstand te doen, aan die Verkoper moes meedeel voordat die tydperk waarvoor voorsiening gemaak is, verval het.

In die Marais-saak het die partye ‘n skriftelike koopkontrak aangegaan met ‘n opskortende voorwaarde dat ‘n verband ten bedrae van R10 149 072 teen 15 Augustus 2005 verkry moes word. Die Koper het egter slegs ‘n verband ten bedrae van R9 650 000 verkry, welke verband op 2 Augustus 2005 toegestaan is. Die respondent se prokureurs het aangevoer dat die opskortende voorwaarde wesenlik vervul is omdat die tekort na hul mening net ‘n “klein tekort” en dus ‘n onbeduidende bedrag in vergelyking met die koopprys was. Die hof het nie saamgestem met hierdie stelling nie en bevind dat daar nie gesê kan word dat dit die partye se bedoeling was dat daar aan die opskortende voorwaarde voldoen is op enige ander manier as dit wat uitdruklik in die koopkontrak gestipuleer is nie. Die hof het bevind dat die kontrak dus verval het.

As ‘n opskortende voorwaarde nie vervul gaan word in die periode wat daaraan toegeken word in die koopkontrak nie, is dit raadsaam om eerder die nodige voorsorgmaatreëls te tref en sodoende te vermy dat die koopkontrak verval. Ons stel voor dat u ‘n professionele persoon raadpleeg vir advies in hierdie verband.

Verwysings:  Kontraktereg, UNISA 2004

            Selfstudie Aktekursus vir Prokureurs, Gawie le Roux

            Alienation of Land Act 68 of 1981

            Marais v Kovacs Investments 724 (Pty) Ltd [2009] 1 All SA 174 (C)

            Meyer v Barnardo and another 1984 (2) SA 580 (N)

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

Bail or not

A1_bPeople are often outraged when they hear of accused persons who have been released on bail. In this article the factors to be considered when deciding whether someone should be let out on bail or not will be discussed. This will allow us to better understand why someone has been released on bail or why they have not.

According to section 35(1)(f) of the Constitution[1] everyone who is arrested for allegedly committing an offence has the right to be released from detention if the interests of justice permit, subject to reasonable conditions. This provision sets out that the law cannot take away an innocent person’s freedom arbitrarily but recognises that in certain circumstances it may be in the interests of justice to take away or limit this freedom.[2]

The next question that arises is how we know when the refusal to grant bail is in the interests of justice. According to section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act[3] (CPA) the interests of justice do not permit the release from detention of an accused where one or more of the following grounds are established:

  1. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will endanger the safety of the public or any particular person or will commit certain offences;
  2. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to evade trial;
  3. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to influence, intimidate or conceal witnesses or destroy evidence;
  4. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will undermine or jeopardise the objectives or the proper functioning of the criminal justice system, including the bail system;
  5. Where there is the likelihood that the release of the accused will disturb the public order or undermine the public peace or security.[4]

In considering whether the grounds in (a) to (e) above have been established various factors, which are set out in Sections 5 – 9 of the CPA, may be taken into consideration, which include the following:

  • the degree of violence towards others implicit in the charge;
  • the accused’s ties to the place at which he or she is to be tried;
  • assets and travel documents held by the accused;
  • the accused’s relationship with the witnesses and the extent to which they could be influenced;
  • whether the accused supplied false information during his or her arrest or bail proceedings;
  • any previous failure to comply with bail conditions or indications that he or she will not comply with any bail condition;
  • whether the nature of the offence or the circumstances under which the offence was committed is likely to induce a sense of shock or outrage in the community; and
  • whether the shock or outrage of the community might lead to public disorder if the accused is released.[5]

The court decides whether the accused should be let out on bail by weighing the interests of justice against the right of the accused to his or her personal freedom and in particular the prejudice he or she is likely to suffer if he or she were to be detained in custody, and must take into account, inter alia, the period for which the accused has been in custody; the probable period of detention until the end of the trial if bail is not granted; the reason for any delay in the trial and any fault on the part of the accused; any impediment to the preparation of the accused’s defence due to the detention of the accused, and the accused’s state of health.[6]

When dealing with Schedule 5 and 6 offences the accused will be detained in custody unless the accused can show the court that it is in the interests of justice or that exceptional circumstances exist which permit his or her release, respectively. [7]

We can see from this article that the court must weigh up many factors against each other and although we do not always understand why accused persons are released on bail, anyone would want a fair bail application if they found themselves in that same position.

Bibliography:

  • The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
  • J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86
  • The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977

[1] The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

[2] J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86.

[3] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[4] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[5] Section 60(5-9) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[6] Section 60(10) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[7] Section 60(11-12) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)