Monthly Archives: January 2016

Kan ek steeds ‘n saak van onbillike arbeidspraktyk maak as ek geskik het?

A4_bIn hierdie artikel is die besprekingspunt of daar in die aangesig van ‘n ooreenkoms tussen ‘n werkgewer en ‘n werknemer in terme waarvan ‘n werknemer ‘n demosie na ‘n laer posisie aanvaar, die werknemer nogtans geregtig is om ‘n onbillike arbeidspraktyk-geskil oor hierdie demosie na die KMVA te verwys.

Die feite in Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. v Kommissie vir Versoening, Bemiddeling en Arbitrasie en Andere[1] is as volg: Die werknemer was ‘n Administratiewe Bestuurder by Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. Sy het van haar dokters verneem dat sy baie siek is en waarskynlik gereeld in die hospitaal opgeneem sal moet word en verskeie soorte medikasie sal moet neem. Oor die volgende drie jaar het haar afwesigheid aansienlik toegeneem, gevolglik het haar werkgewers bekommerd geraak toe sy nie meer in staat was om haar werk effektief te doen nie, selfs wanneer sy nie afwesig was nie, as gevolg van die newe-effekte van die medikasie. Na gesprekke met die werknemer het Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. haar tydelik afgedank hangende ‘n ondersoek oor haar vermoë om die funksies van ‘n Administratiewe Bestuurder uit te voer, met inagneming van haar gesondheid en vermoëns. Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. het ‘n onvermoë-verhoor gehou en die eksterne Voorsitter het beslis dat, as gevolg van die werknemer se oormatige en toenemende afwesigheid, ontslag die gepaste sanksie was. Die Voorsitter het haar egter ‘n demosie in plaas van ontslag aangebied. Die werknemer het hierdie demosie skriftelik aanvaar.

Nadat hierdie ooreenkoms tussen Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. en die werknemer gesluit is, het sy regshulp verkry en daarna ‘n klag by die KVBA ingedien dat Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. ‘n onbillike arbeidspraktyk gepleeg het toe hulle haar demoveer het.

Die vraag hier is of, in die aangesig van ‘n ooreenkoms tussen Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. in terme waarvan die werknemer demovering na ‘n laer posisie aanvaar het, sy tog geregtig was om ‘n onbillike arbeidspraktykgeskil oor hierdie demovering na die KVBA te verwys.[2]

Die arbiter in die KVBA het besluit dat, omdat daar toestemming tot die demosie was, die KVBA nie jurisdiksie het om die geskil aan te hoor nie. Die werknemer het hierna na die Arbeidshof appélleer en weer na die Arbeidsappèlhof, waarvan die uitkomste hieronder uiteengesit word.

Die Arbeidshof en die Arbeidsappèlhof het in hierdie verband na artikel 186(2)(a) van die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge[3] gekyk, wat die volgende bepaal:

“Onbillike arbeidspraktyk beteken enige onbillike handeling of versuim tussen ‘n werkgewer en ‘n werknemer wat –

‘n onregverdige optrede deur die werkgewer met betrekking tot die bevordering, demosie, proeftydperk (uitgesonderd geskille oor ontslag om ‘n rede rakende proef) of opleiding van ‘n werknemer of rakende die voorsiening van voordele.”

Die Arbeidsappèlhof het die uitspraak van die Arbeidshof gehandhaaf en bevind dat, hoewel ‘n bindende kontrak tot stand kom wanneer werkgewers en werknemers hul verskille per ooreenkoms oplos, so ‘n ooreenkoms nie beteken dat die KVBA nie jurisdiksie het om die geskil aan te hoor nie. Die feit dat die partye ooreengekom het dat die gegriefde werknemer ‘n demosie aanvaar, is nie ‘n volledige verdediging vir die werkgewer nie, omdat die bestek van hierdie onbillike arbeidspraktyk wyd genoeg is om die implementering van ‘n ooreenkoms om demovering te aanvaar, in te sluit.[4] Die Arbeidsappèlhof het bevestig dat die bepaling van die vraag of ‘n demosie plaasgevind het, in teenstelling met die bepaling van ontslag, nie ‘n arbiter vereis om te bepaal of daar toestemming was of nie.[5]

Ten slotte is dit duidelik uit die geval van Builders Warehouse dat, alhoewel toestemming ‘n relevante kwessie oor die meriete van ‘n geskil oor ‘n onbillike arbeidspraktyk is, dit nie ‘n jurisdiksie voorvereiste is nie. Dit beteken dat die KVBA die mag het om ‘n saak rakende ‘n demosie aan te hoor, selfs al is toestemming daartoe verleen.

Verwysingslys

  • Builders Warehouse (Edms.) Bpk. v Kommissie vir Versoening, Bemiddeling en Arbitrasie en Andere (PA 1/14) [2015] ZALAC
  • Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge 66 van 1995

[1] (PA 1/14) [2015] ZALAC.

[2] (PA 1/14) [2015] ZALAC Par 12.

[3] Act 66 of 1995.

[4]  Builders Warehouse (Edms) Bpk v Kommissie vir Versoening, Bemiddeling en Arbitrasie en Andere (PA 1/14) [2015] ZALAC Par 14.

[5] Builders Warehouse (Edms) Bpk v Kommissie vir Versoening, Bemiddeling en Arbitrasie en Andere (PA 1/14) [2015] ZALAC Par 13.

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)

A promise to marry

A5_bIn this article the legal consequences of breaking off an engagement will be discussed. Is it a contract, and if it is, can you institute a claim for damages due to a breach of this contract?

In order to enter into a valid engagement to be married the following requirements must be met:

  • Both parties must have the capacity to act, which generally means that parties must be older than 18 years or if they are minors, that they have the necessary consent from their guardians.
  • Both parties must voluntarily consent to the engagement. A material mistake, such as the identity of either of the parties, will render the engagement void. There must also be no misrepresentations made by either of the parties; in other words, where it would have resulted in the contract not being concluded, had the other party known the truth.
  • Both parties must be permitted by law to marry each other. For example, you may only be engaged to one party, unless a polygamous engagement applies under African Customary Law.
  • One may not marry a sibling.

It is important to note that there is no law in South Africa that requires an engagement before    marriage.

Once a date for the marriage has been determined, there is a reciprocal duty to marry on that date, unless the date is changed by mutual agreement. Further, if no date has been determined, it is presumed that the marriage will take place within a reasonable time. Nevertheless, either of the parties may terminate the engagement, which may or may not attract a claim for damages or return of gifts.

An engagement can be terminated in the following ways:

  • Marriage
  • Death of either parties
  • Mutual agreement
  • Withdrawal of parental consent
  • Breach of promise
  • Termination by one party that is justified and based on sound reasons

It is important to establish whether there is a just cause for cancellation. If there is, the engagement may be validly terminated. A reason such as sterility or criminal activity, if it was only brought to the attention of the other party after agreeing to marry, may provide enough grounds to break off the engagement. If both parties agree to terminate the engagement, all gifts given in anticipation of the marriage, including the engagement ring, must be returned.

If one party breaches the promise to marry without justifiable reasons, the innocent party can, according to our law, institute a claim for damages, provided that the losses were within the contemplation of the parties. The innocent party can claim expenses incurred in anticipation of the wedding, thus placing the innocent party in the financial position he or she would have been had the engagement never been entered into. Further, the innocent party may keep or claim back the engagement ring as part of costs incurred.

In the case of Van Jaarsveld v Bridges, the court decided that a party cannot successfully institute a claim for prospective losses on the basis of a breach of promise to marry, because an engagement is not an ordinary contract in the context of contractual damages and should therefore not be placed on a rigid contractual footing. This means that a party may not institute a claim for damages placing him or her in the position he would have been had they gone through with the marriage. Previous court judgements indicate that compensation will be awarded at the discretion of the court and that each case must be evaluated on the basis of its individual circumstances.

In conclusion, it is important to note that a promise to marry is an agreement which attracts legal consequences; therefore one should not be hasty when deciding to ask the big question.

Bibliography:

Van Jaarsveld v Bridges 2010 (4) SA 558 (SCA).

Cloete v Maritz 2013 (5) SA448 (WCC).

Bull v Taylor 1965 (4) SA 29 (A).

Georgina Guedes, 23 October 2013, Mail and Guardian, “Five fallacies about engagement rings”.

A Guide to Divorce and Separation in South Africa, “Engagement and the Law”.

Ronald & Bobroff, “The engagement”.

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)

Estate Agents commission

A3_bSelling a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person can make and an estate agent, to whom commission will be payable, is usually involved in this process.

A problem that frequently occurs in practice and which is not easy to solve is whether an agent was in fact instrumental in bringing about the sale of the property. It could happen that an agent introduces a prospective buyer, that negotiations for the sale do not succeed and that another agent succeeds in concluding the agreement. It is common practice for more than one agent to be instructed to find a purchaser. It could even happen that a seller is held responsible for paying commission to two agents.

An estate agent is not an agent in the strict sense of the word.  His “mandate” is normally to find a suitable purchaser for the seller’s property and not to sell on behalf of the seller. This is, however, not a contract in the usual sense where parties undertake reciprocal obligations. In fact, the agent is not obliged to perform his mandate. An estate agent will only be entitled to commission if he has a mandate from the seller; without the mandate he is not entitled to commission, even though he might have been the effective cause of the transaction.

An estate agent will be considered to be the effective cause of the transaction when:

  • he has introduced a willing and financially able buyer to the seller;
  • a binding contract has been concluded between the parties; and
  • the transaction takes place at the stipulated price or at a price acceptable to the seller.

When several estate agents are involved in introducing the buyer to the seller it might be difficult for the court to determine which agent was the effective cause. For instance, when estate agent A introduces the buyer to the seller but the buyer later purchases the property through estate agent B after B has persuaded the seller to drop the price. Or estate agent A may have a sole mandate, but estate agent B introduced a willing and able buyer. The seller could then be liable for both estate agents’ commission. A sole mandate usually stipulates that the agent is entitled to commission if the property is sold during the currency of the agreement, even if another agent introduced the buyer.

In another matter a prospective buyer was introduced and the house was inspected. The price was considered too high. A few months later the purchaser noticed that the house was still in the market. He then bought the property without intervention from the agent at a slightly lower price than the earlier rejected price. The estate agent was held to be entitled to his commission.

How much commission is an estate agent entitled to? The average commission ranges up to 7.5%, but there are no regulations as to how much commission an estate agent should be paid per sale. The commission should be discussed by the parties when negotiating the mandate.

Sole mandates that are given to estate agents are regulated by the Consumer Protection Act. The duration of the agreement may not exceed 24 months. The seller has the right to cancel the agreement by giving 20 business days’ notice in writing. If the mandate is not terminated by the seller on the expiry date it will automatically continue on a month-to-month basis.

Seller, be wary of these pitfalls when selling your property – they could be very costly.

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)

Vruggebruik (usufruct), gebruiksreg (usus) en habitatio: Wat is die verskil?

A2_bVruggebruik, gebruiksreg en habitatio is persoonlike serwitute. Hierdie serwitute word soms as  instrument in boedelbeplanning gebruik om boedelbelasting te verminder, maar testateurs besef nie altyd wat dit behels en die las wat dit op erfgename kan plaas nie.

Wat is ‘n persoonlike serwituut?

‘n Persoonlike serwituut verleen aan ‘n persoon die reg om ‘n ander persoon se eiendom te gebruik en te geniet. Die serwituut is afdwingbaar teen die eienaar van die eiendom wat belas is met die serwituut, maar die serwituut kan nie deur die serwituuthouer oorgedra word nie. Die serwituut kan verleen word vir ‘n vaste termyn, of totdat ‘n toekomstige gebeurtenis plaasvind, of vir die leeftyd van die serwituutbegunstigde, maar nie meer na sy dood nie.

Hoe word ‘n persoonlike serwituut geskep?

Dit word gewoonlik geskep in ‘n testament, maar kan ook geskep word by wyse van ‘n ooreenkoms.

VRUGGEBRUIK (USUFRUCT)

Vruggebruik is die reg wat aan ‘n persoon verleen word om die eiendom van ‘n ander te gebruik en te geniet en die vrugte (opbrengs) daarvan te neem, sonder om die aard van die eiendom te verander. Wanneer vruggebruik byvoorbeeld oor ‘n plaas verleen word, sluit dit gewoonlik ook die geboue en vee, boerderytoerusting en die meubels van die woonhuis in.

Die algemene pligte van die vruggebruiker

Die vruggebruiker is slegs geregtig op die gebruik en genot van die eiendom; hy verkry nie eiendomsreg nie. Die vruggebruiker mag nie die eiendom uitput of vernietig nie, maar hy is verplig om dit te bewaar. Die eiendom moet gebruik word op die wyse waarvoor dit bedoel is. ‘n Nuwe wyse van gebruik van die eiendom is toelaatbaar mits dit sinvol is onder die omstandighede.

Reg op vrugte

Die vruggebruiker mag die vrugte neem, gebruik of vervreem hetsy die vrugte natuurlik, industrieel of saaklik van aard is. Dit beteken dat die vruggebruiker geregtig is op al die produkte wat die grond bied en alle wins en inkomste wat verkry word uit die eiendom. Die kleintjies van diere asook alle produkte afkomstig van die diere, insluitend melk, wol of eiers, word die eiendom van die vruggebruiker. Die vruggebruiker verkry eienaarskap van die vrugte deur dit self te versamel of deur iemand te kry om dit namens hom te doen. Gewasse op die lande word nie as vrugte beskou nie, maar as deel van die grond en moet eers versamel en van die grond geskei word. Vrugte wat nie by die verstryking van die vruggebruik versamel is nie, kan nie oorgedra word aan die vruggebruiker se opvolgers/erfgename nie. Saaklike vrugte (byvoorbeeld huurinkomste of rente) word die eiendom van die vruggebruiker wanneer dit verskuldig word. By die beëindiging van die vruggebruik word saaklike vrugte verdeel tussen die vruggebruiker en die eienaar van die eiendom in verhouding tot die tyd wat die vruggebruik bestaan het​​.

Herstelwerk en uitgawes

Die vruggebruiker is verplig om die eiendom in stand te hou en is verantwoordelik vir alle uitgawes om die eiendom goed te onderhou, normale slytasie uitgesluit. Die vruggebruiker is verder verantwoordelik vir die betaling van munisipale belastings en heffings. Die betaling van versekeringspremies, uitgawes verbonde aan strukturele versterkings wat nodig mag wees om te verhoed dat ‘n gebou  bouvallig word, en ander soortgelyke uitgawes is nie deel van die vruggebruiker se verantwoordelikhede nie.

Verbeterings

Die vruggebruiker is nie geregtig op vergoeding vir verbeterings wat hy op die eiendom aanbring nie. Die verbeterings mag wel verwyder word mits hy alle skade veroorsaak deur die verwydering herstel.

Vervreemding

‘n Vruggebruiker mag nie die eiendom vervreem of beswaar nie, maar hy mag sy reg op die gebruik en genot van die eiendom en die vrugte daarvan verkoop, verhuur of uitleen, met dien verstande dat sodanige reëling nie die tydperk waarvoor die vruggebruik toegestaan is, mag oorskry nie.

Beëindiging

Vruggebruik word gewoonlik vir die leeftyd van die vruggebruiker toegestaan, maar soms mag dit ook vir ‘n vaste tydperk toegestaan word. Dit sal egter steeds beëindig word by die dood van die vruggebruiker.

Regshandelinge deur die eienaar

Die eienaar mag nie enigiets doen om die vruggebruiker se regte te benadeel nie. Die eienaar mag nie die vruggebruiker se reg op gebruik of genot van die eiendom verhoed, belemmer of inkort nie. Die eienaar mag slegs met die skriftelike toestemming van die vruggebruiker ‘n saaklike serwituut oor die eiendom registreer. Die skriftelike toestemming van die vruggebruiker word benodig vir enige ander handelinge met die eiendom deur die eienaar, byvoorbeeld met die verkoop van die eiendom en die registrasie van ‘n verband. Die eienaar en die vruggebruiker mag tesame ‘n verband oor die eiendom verkry of die vruggebruiker kan sy voorkeur laat vaar sodat die verband vry van die vruggebruik geregistreer kan word. Die meeste banke verkies laasgenoemde.

GEBRUIK (USUS)

Die serwituut van gebruik lyk na vruggebruik, maar die houer se regte is baie meer beperk as dié van die vruggebruiker. In die geval van roerende eiendom mag hy die eiendom besit en gebruik en in die geval van onroerende eiendom mag hy en sy familie die eiendom bewoon. Die houer mag van die vrugte neem vir sy en sy gesin se daaglikse behoeftes. Die houer mag nie enige van die vrugte verkoop nie en ook nie ‘n huurkontrak oor die eiendom toestaan nie. Daar is ‘n paar uitsonderings, byvoorbeeld waar ’n huis te groot is vir die houer se gebruik, mag hy  ‘n gedeelte daarvan verhuur. Die houer se gebruik van die eiendom mag egter nie tot nadeel van die eiendom strek nie.

HABITATIO

Die serwituut van habitatio verleen aan die houer die reg om saam met sy familie in die huis van ‘n ander te woon, sonder dat dit nadelig vir die eiendom is. Die houer mag die eiendom verhuur of onderverhuur.

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)

A dent on your record?

A1_bAngela, a normal middle-aged woman with a basic salary has just landed herself in a load of trouble, which could possibly cause her not to go on holiday to Mauritius with her family in December. Angela went to the shop to buy bread before fetching her teenage son from school. As she opened the car door the typical Cape Town wind slammed the door into the passenger door of the car parked next to her, leaving a big dent. What to do? Can she just ignore the incident and park her car in another spot? Isn’t that what most people would do?

In the case of S v Mpho Vincent Mutobvu 2013 (2) SACR 366 (GNP), Mr Mutobvu reversed his motor vehicle from a parking bay when he scratched another parked vehicle. He thought the other vehicle was not damaged and therefore drove home. Unbeknown to him, a security guard observed the incident and took down his car’s registration number. The complainant tracked Mr Mutobvu through his registration number and contacted him. She informed him that she had already reported the matter to her local police station. He inspected her vehicle, and conceded that he was responsible for the damage and paid R6 000 for her car to be repaired. She then went with him to get the charge withdrawn. They were told that he had to pay R500 before the charge could be withdrawn, which he accepted to be his “fine”. Mr Mutobvu was under the impression that this was the end of the matter.

Shortly after the incident Mr Mutobvu had an interview for a new job at a mining company. It was then that he was informed that he could not get the job on account of his criminal record. What criminal record? He went to the Criminal Records Centre in Pretoria and was informed that what he had thought was a R500 fine, was actually an admission of guilt in terms of Section 57 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977. Mr Mutobvu had admitted to the contravention of Section 61 (1) (a) of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act 93 of 1966 – failure to stop after an accident. His criminal record would only be expunged after 10 years. Mr Mutobvu then applied for a special review as he knew he did not deserve this 10-year criminal record.

In S v Cedras 1992 (2) SACR 530 C at 531j – 532b the following was held regarding a court’s approach to a review:

“In such cases the question must always be whether there are considerations of equity and fair dealing which compel the court to intervene to prevent a probable failure of justice. There must be evidence before the court showing the likelihood of such inequity, should it not intervene. A court must be satisfied that the admission of guilt was probably mistaken or incorrect and the accused or other person deposing on oath on his behalf must give a satisfactory explanation as to how the admission of guilt came to be mistakenly or erroneously made. Good cause must be established for condoning the error or mistake in making the admission of guilt. It must be established that, were the charge to go to trial, the accused would have a probable or arguable defence to the charge and that his deemed conviction or sentence is, accordingly, probably not in accordance with justice.”

Mr Mutobvu stated that he did not have any legal representation when he unknowingly admitted to the guilt charge which resulted in the criminal record. He also stated that he had paid the damages and that the complainant had accepted that the charge be removed. The court stated that “in all circumstances, I would set aside the payment of the admission of guilt fine and subsequent conviction and sentence and order that the fine paid be refunded to the accused”. Mr Mutobvu’s criminal record was erased and the R500 that he had to pay was refunded.

A criminal record is not something that people should take lightly. The first charge may not land you in jail, but it puts you in many other awkward situations. If Angela decides to drive away from her accident, she could also have a criminal record and that means no Mauritius holiday for her. Anyone with a criminal record will not be able to leave the country as they are seen as a danger, and it is almost impossible to find suitable employment. Something as simple as a car dent could change your entire life. My advice to Angela would be to wait for the owner of the vehicle or leave a note with her insurance details. Her situation is like a television license: pay it, it’s the right thing to do!

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)