Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wanneer verjaar ‘n eis?

A4_bDie kwessie rakende die regsaard van ‘n verdedigende eis en of dit aanleiding gee tot skuld wat onderworpe is aan die drie jaar uitwissende verjaringstermyn is verskillend hanteer deur verskillende afdelings van die Hoërhof. Op 28 Mei 2015 het die Hooggeregshof tot ‘n finale besluit gekom in Absa Bank v Keet[1] rakende of eise onder die actio rei vindicatio na drie jaar verjaar al dan nie.

Een van die eerste vrae wat u prokureur u sal vra wanneer u met hom konsulteer, is wanneer die skuldoorsaak plaasgevind het, sodat hulle kan vasstel of u eis verjaar het. Indien u eis verjaar het, beteken dit dat daar geen wetlike regstellings meer tot u beskikking is nie. Eise voortspruitend uit skuld verjaar na drie jaar en die reëls van verjaring word in die Verjaringswet van 1969 uiteengesit.

Daar is een spesifieke eis waar die toepassing van die drie jaar verjaringstydperk onseker was en dit was in verband met eise onder die actio rei vindicatio. Dit is ‘n regsaksie waarby die eiser eis dat die verweerder ‘n item wat aan die eiser behoort, teruggee, en dit mag slegs gebruik word indien die eiser die item besit en die verweerder die eiser se besit daarvan belemmer.

‘n Rei vindicatio aksie word dikwels gebruik in dispute rakende paaiementverkope, waar eienaarskap slegs bepaal word deur die betaling van die laaste paaiement of waar paaiemente nie op tyd betaal word nie. Dit gaan meestal hand aan hand met ‘n eis vir kansellasie. Met ander woorde, die verkoper kanselleer die koopooreenkoms en eis teruggawe van die item wat verkoop is.

In die geval van Absa Bank v Keet[2] het die verkoper van ‘n motorvoertuig gepoog om die koopooreenkoms te kanselleer en die teruggawe van die verkoopte voertuig te eis. Die koper van die voertuig het hierop gereageer met ‘n spesiale pleitrede dat die eis vir teruggawe van die voertuig reeds verjaar het.

Die rede vir sy aanspraak dat die eis reeds verjaar het, was dat die ooreenkoms waarop die verkoper gedagvaar het tot ‘n einde sou kom op die datum waarop hy aangevoer het dat die uitstaande bedrag verskuldig en betaalbaar geword het, en dit was meer as drie jaar sedert daardie bedrag verskuldig geword het.

In die geval van Staegemann v Langenhoven[3] is daar beslis dat ‘n verdedigende eis nie na drie jaar verjaar nie. Die Hoërhof in die Keet geval het beslis dat hierdie saak se beslissing foutief was, want indien Staegemann korrek was, “kon die Bank sy aanspraak op die trekker vir nog ‘n dekade en selfs langer terughou, om daarna teruggawe van die voertuig te eis sodat dit sy skadevergoeding kon bereken”.

In die Keet geval moes die Hooggeregshof besluit of die Hoërhof korrek was in sy mening dat die verkoper se eis om teruggawe van sy besitting ‘n “skuld” is, wat vir die doeleindes van die Verjaringswet na drie jaar verjaar.

Die Hooggeregshof het ‘n belangrike onderskeid tussen uitwissende en verkrygende verjaring gemaak ten einde tot ‘n finale besluit te kom. Uitwissende verjaring handel oor ‘n krediteur se reg van optrede teen ‘n skuldenaar, wat ‘n persoonlike reg is. Aan die ander kant handel verkrygende verjaring oor die verkryging van ware regte tot eiendom (in terme van die Verjaringswet kan ‘n persoon eienaarskap van eiendom verkry na 30 jaar van ononderbroke besit). Ware regte is hoofsaaklik gemoeid met die verhouding tussen ‘n persoon en ‘n item, terwyl persoonlike regte gemoeid is met die verhouding tussen twee persone.

Die persoon wat geregtig is op ‘n ware reg oor ‘n item kan, deur middel van verdedigende aksie, daardie item van enige individu eis wat met sy regte inmeng. Sodanige reg is die reg tot eienaarskap. Indien die reg egter nie absoluut is nie, maar slegs relatief tot die item, sodat dit slegs afdwingbaar is teen ‘n gedetermineerde individu of groep individue, is dit ‘n persoonlike reg.[4]

Die Hooggeregshof is daarom van mening dat, om ‘n verdedigende aksie as ‘n “skuld” te oorweeg wat na drie jaar verjaar, teenstrydig is met die skema van die Wet en dat dit die waarde van die onderskeid wat die Verjaringswet tref tussen uitwissende verjaring en verkrygende verjaring ondermyn. Met ander woorde, wat die krediteur verloor as gevolg van die uitvoer van uitwissende verjaring is sy reg tot optrede teen die skuldenaar, wat ‘n persoonlike reg is. Die krediteur verloor nie ‘n reg tot ‘n item nie.

Die Hooggeregshof het dit derhalwe duidelik gemaak dat om die verdedigende aksie gelyk te stel met ‘n “skuld”, dit die onopsetlike en absurde gevolg het dat die skuldenaar, deur middel van uitwissende verjaring, eienaarskap van die krediteur se eiendom verkry na drie jaar in plaas van dertig jaar. Die verdedigende aksie verjaar dus nie na drie jaar nie.

[1] (817/13) [2015]  ZASCA 81 (28 Mei 2015)

[2] (817/13) [2015] ZASCA 81 (28 Mei 2015)

[3] Staegemann v Langenhoven & ander 2011 (5) SA 648 (WCC).

[4] Wessels Law of Contract in South Africa 2de uitgawe vol 1 p 3-4.

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)

Commencement of business rescue proceedings

A3_bIs your company experiencing financial strain? Are creditors breathing down your neck? Business Rescue proceedings may be a solution to your problems.

Business Rescue is a new approach that is governed by the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (“the new Companies Act”) with the aim of assisting companies which are experiencing financial strain and are unable to pay their creditors in the ordinary course of business. This article will look at what Business Rescue encompasses, as well as how Business Rescue proceedings are commenced.

Section 128(1) (b) of the Companies Act defines Business Rescue proceedings as proceedings to facilitate the rehabilitation of a company that is financially distressed by providing, inter alia, temporary supervision of a company under a Business Rescue practitioner.

The role of the Business Rescue practitioner (who must be appointed within 5 days after the company has been placed under Business Rescue) is to ensure that the company complies fully with the steps to be taken once Business Rescue proceedings have commenced. They must also ensure that everything reasonably possible is being done (including the drafting of a Business Rescue plan) to assist the company in getting out of its current state of financial strain and into a position where it will be able to pay its creditors in the ordinary course of business.

The new Companies Act stipulates that, in order to place a company under Business Rescue, a resolution must be taken by the Board of Directors and an application thereto must be made to the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission). The Commissioner must then consider the application and approve or reject it. Alternatively, any interested or affected party may apply to the Court for a court order placing the company under Business Rescue.

A company that is under Business Rescue is protected from creditors in that no legal action or proceedings may be taken against a company that has commenced with Business Rescue proceedings.

It is imperative to note that a lack of full compliance with the requirements in respect of Business Rescue proceedings may render the Business Rescue proceedings null and void. This position was reiterated in the High Court case of Advanced Technologies & Engineering Company (Pty) Ltd v Aeronautique et Technologies Embarquees SAS (unreported CASE NO 72522/20110), and the Court further held that the new Companies Act does not provide for condonation of non-compliance with the requirements.

References:

  • Companies Act 71 of 2008
  • D Davis, W Geach, T Mongalo, D Butler, A Loubser, L Coetzee, D Burdette, 3rd Edition (2013) Commercial law: Companies and other Business Structures in South Africa.

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)

Moenie deur die lewe jaag nie

A2_bJack Louw is gewoond daaraan om vinnige motors te ry – hy is feitlik gebore met een voet op die versneller. Jack kom boonop uit ‘n baie welgestelde familie, wat beteken dat daar altyd geld was om die boetes vir al sy verkeersoortredings te betaal. Jack se geluk kan egter binnekort draai en dan sal daar geen manier wees om net met ‘n boete weg te kom nie.

In terme van die Wet op Nasionale Padverkeer 93 van 1996 en die Regulasies, soos gepubliseer op 17 Maart 2000, is die algemene spoedgrense as volg: 60 km/h op ‘n openbare pad binne ‘n stedelike gebied, 100 km/h op ‘n openbare pad buite ‘n stedelike gebied wat nie ‘n deurpad is nie, en 120 km/h op elke snelweg.

Indien jy die spoedgrens met meer as 60 km/h oorskry, sal jy outomaties vervolg word en nie die geleentheid hê om ‘n afkoopboete te betaal nie. Indien jy meer as 100 km/h in ‘n 60 km/h-sone ry, sal jy waarskynlik nie die opsie hê om ‘n skulderkenningsboete te betaal nie, maar jy sal in die hof moet verskyn op ‘n aanklag van roekelose of gevaarlike bestuur.

Afhangende van die erns van die oortreding, sal jy nie toegelaat word om ‘n skulderkenningsboete te betaal nie. ‘n Skulderkenningsboete is ‘n boete waar ‘n persoon met ‘n eerste oortreding die opsie het om skuld te erken en ‘n boete te betaal sonder om in die hof te verskyn. Dit mag dalk soos ‘n maklike uitweg lyk, maar indien jy skuld erken, het jy ‘n kriminele rekord.

Skulderkenningsboetes vir spoedoortredings word bereken op die basis van die een rand per km/h wat die spoedgrens oorskry is. Hierdie boetes kan by enige kantoor van die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens in die Landdrosdistrik waar die oortreding plaasgevind het, betaal word. Die boete moet getoon word op die dag van die betaling van die boete.

Indien jy kies om nie die skulderkenningsboete te betaal nie, maar eerder die saak in die hof te beveg, moet jy op die boete kyk om vas te stel op watter datum jy in die hof moet verskyn, en wat die saaknommer is. Navrae oor die boete moet gerig word aan die klerk van die kriminele hof van die Landdrosdistrik van uitreiking, en jy moet die boete saamstuur.

Dit is belangrik om kennis te neem van die spoed wat jy ry. Dit kan vir jou belangrik wees om betyds by jou bestemming uit te kom, maar is dit die moeite werd om ‘n boete te betaal, of met ‘n kriminele rekord te sit? Dit is veral belangrik om te onthou dat indien jy die boete in ‘n ander dorp as jou tuisdorp kry, jy terug na daardie dorp moet gaan om in die hof te verskyn. Dit is jou plig om in die hof te verskyn, ongeag of jy in die gebied woon of nie.

Dink voor jy skuld erken op ‘n spoed oortreding, of selfs beter, dink twee keer voor jy die spoedgrens oortree en jouself in daardie posisie plaas.

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)

True Love, or Easy Paycheck?

A1_bSummary:

The issues that are dealt with in this article is whether a partner is entitled to maintenance from the other partner in terms of a Divorce Order if the partner that is asking for maintenance, is living with / or has a new relationship, where that partner is already maintaining him / her. We will deal with case law and the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998.

You’re soon to be ex-wife has moved on and is now happily living with a new partner. They are in a stable, supportive relationship and her new partner doesn’t seem short of cash. Everyone is living happily ever after, so why should you pay maintenance to your ex-wife?

The judgment of Harlech-Jones v Harlech-Jones [2012] ZASCA 19 has a reference. The issue, in this case, is whether a husband is obliged to pay maintenance to his former wife, who is involved in a relationship with another man, after divorce.

The duty of support

Neither spouse has a statutory right to maintenance. The language in the Divorce Act is clearly discretionary and the ex-spouse seeking an award for maintenance has no right as such. The court will consider the following factors before deciding whether to award spousal maintenance:

  1. The existing or prospective means of each party
  2. Their respective earning capacities
  3. Their financial needs and obligations
  4. Their age
  5. The duration of the marriage
  6. Their standard of living prior to the divorce
  7. Their conduct, if relevant, to the breakdown of the marriage
  8. An order for the division of assets
  9. Any other factor which in the court`s opinion, should be taken into account.

The discretionary power of the court to make a maintenance award includes the power to make no award at all. Our law favours the ‘clean break’ principle, which basically means that after a divorce the parties should become economically independent of each other as soon as possible.

Harlech-Jones v Harlech-Jones [2012] ZASCA 19

Through a long line of cases dealing exclusively with maintenance pendent elite (awaiting litigation), it has become customary not to award maintenance to a spouse who is living in a permanent relationship with another partner.

As mentioned above, the Supreme Court of Appeal  gave an interesting judgment in the matter of Harlech-Jones v Harlech-Jones [2012] ZASCA 19. The question raised in this matter was inter alia whether it would be against public policy for a man to pay maintenance to his wife while she is living with another man.

The parties, who were married to each other in December 1972, were divorced in January 2011, after many years living apart and many legal battles. In terms of the Divorce Order, the Appellant (the former husband) was ordered to pay the Respondent the sum of R2 000-00 per month as maintenance with effect from 1 February 2011. With the leave of the High Court, the Appellant then appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal solely against the maintenance order.

By the time the Divorce Order was granted, both parties had formed relationships with other partners, and the Respondent had been living for some three years with another man who fully and unconditionally maintained her.

Relying upon judgments such as Dodo v Dodo 1990 (2) SA 77 (W) at 89G; Carstens v Carstens 1985 (2) SA 351 (SE) at 353F; SP v HP 2009 (5) SA 223 (O) , it was argued that it would be against public policy for a woman to be supported by two men at the same time.

The court was of the opinion that while there are no doubt members of society who would endorse that view, it rather speaks of values from times past and the court was of the opinion that in the modern, more liberal age in which we live, public policy demands that a person who cohabits with another should not for that reason alone, be barred from claiming maintenance from his or her spouse.

However, in light of facts of the present case, where the Respondent was being fully maintained by the man with whom she had been living with for years, the Respondent failed to show that she was entitled to receive maintenance from her former husband.  The Appeal therefore succeeded, and the maintenance order was set aside.

Therefore, if you feel that you are currently paying your ex-partner maintenance which he / she do not deserve, contact your legal representative and take back the money that you worked so hard to obtain!

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)