Author: My Lawyer (page 1 of 16)

I CAN’T REPAY MY DEBTS, WHAT CAN I DO?

If you are over-indebted, in other words, unable to repay all your credit agreements. Your biggest concern might be not getting dragged off to court or having all your possessions taken away. So what can you do to get out of your mess?

Debt review

Before you receive a summons for your outstanding debt you can opt for debt review. It’s important to take this option if you believe you won’t be able to pay your debts because once you receive a summons it’s too late. Debt review was introduced in 2007 with the National Credit Act (NCA).

During the first 60 business days from the date of your application to be placed in debt counselling, legal action may not be taken against you in respect of debts that are “under review”. Therefore, if you’ve opted for debt review, you don’t have to stress about someone knocking on your door, yet.

What if you don’t pay your debts?

If you decide not to go for debt review and fail to pay your outstanding debt, the creditors could take the following actions against you:

  1. Issue a summons and obtain judgement against you for the outstanding debt, interest and their legal costs;
  2. Send the sheriff to attach your property, such as your car;
  3. Instruct the sheriff to sell the attached property at an auction;
  4. Obtain a court order that your employer deduct an amount an amount from your salary and pay it over to the creditor (emolument attachment order).

Debt review process

If you decide to go for debt review, a registered debt counsellor has to first assess your financial obligations. This is basically what you have to pay every month. Some of your financial obligations may be due to reckless credit. This is when a creditor grants you credit without checking if you can afford it first. However, if you lied in your credit application, your financial obligations won’t be considered reckless credit.

If you are over-indebted the debt counsellor will draw up a repayment plan to rearrange your debt obligations. If your creditors reject the repayment plan, your debt counsellor can refer the matter to a magistrate’s court with a recommendation.

The court could make the following orders:

  1. You are not over-indebted and must continue making regular payments. If you don’t the creditor may take legal action to force you to pay.
  2. You are over-indebted and reckless credit was granted to you. The court may relieve you of some or even all of the payments under a reckless credit agreement depending on what is fair and just. The court may also postpone the date of payment under reckless credit agreements.
  3. You are over-indebted and must rearrange your payment obligation.

Hopefully, the creditors accept the repayment plan, or a magistrate’s court agrees to the repayment plan. The Payment Distribution Agent (PDA) will then channel your revised payments to your creditors. The payments are made directly to the PDA.

Once you’ve successfully paid all your debts, the debt counsellor will issue you with a clearance certificate. They will also notify the credit bureaus that you are no longer in debt counselling.

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)

References:

Arde, A. 2013. “Debt review process step by step”. IOL. [online] Available at: http://www.iol.co.za/business/personal-finance/debt-review-process-step-by-step-1616109/ [Accessed 07/06/2016].

Anderson, AM. Dodd, A. Roos, MC. 2012. “Everyone’s Guide to South African Law. Third Edition”. Zebra Press.

CAUTION TO EMPLOYERS: DON’T FALSELY ACCUSE EMPLOYEES

Employers who dismiss employees should take remember not to falsely implicate them in the process. This could land employers in hot water with the CCMA, and the Court.

Clover SA (Pty) Ltd and Another v Sintwa

In a recent case, the High Court heard a damages claim arising from defamatory statements made by a witness while giving evidence before the CCMA.

Harrison Sintwa was employed by Clover SA as a team leader, reporting to Frederick Bopp, a production manager. He was responsible for checking machines and products to ensure that they passed the relevant standards. He was required to sign a daily operator report to confirm that the checks were done.

One day, it came to Clover’s attention that Sintwa had falsely signed that he had conducted certain checks when, actually, he had not. Clover charged him with fraudulently co-signing the report. A disciplinary inquiry was convened and Sintwa was dismissed.

The CCMA

Sintwa approached the CCMA with an unfair dismissal dispute. Bopp gave evidence on behalf of Clover at the disciplinary hearing and at the arbitration proceedings before the CCMA. During his evidence, he stated that it came to his attention that Sintwa had co-signed the report sheet and, therefore, committed fraud. The CCMA commissioner found Sintwa’s dismissal to be unfair on the basis that Clover had failed to prove that he was guilty of fraud, finding that his conduct was instead a result of negligence. Mr Sintwa was awarded four months’ salary as compensation.

Implicating an employee can lead to defamation

It didn’t end there, Sintwa also approached the High Court and instituted a damages claim against Clover and Bopp, based on the alleged defamatory statements they presented at the arbitration proceedings before the CCMA. Sintwa claimed R100 000 as damages saying that Bopp and Clover had wrongfully and unlawfully claimed that he had committed fraud.

The court concluded that the statement implicating Sintwa of fraud was irrelevant and unconnected to the arbitration proceedings before the CCMA and that Bopp had acted out of spite, which was supported by the fact that another employee who had co-signed the report with Sintwa had not been charged. It decided that Clover and Bopp had exceeded the bounds of qualified privilege and awarded Sintwa R100 000 in damages.

Conclusion

The take away is that employers should refrain from acting out of spite when dismissing employees. What you say, if untrue or unsupported, could make you accountable for an employee’s dismissal, to the CCMA and the Court.

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)

Reference:

Clover SA (Pty) Limited and Another v Sintwa (CA2011/2015) [2016] ZAECGHC 77; [2016] 12 BLLR 1265 (ECG); (2017) 38 ILJ 350 (ECG) (13 September 2016)

WHY IS MY PROPERTY TRANSFER TAKING SO LONG?

After signing a deed of sale, the purchasers often want to move into the property as soon as possible. When they are informed of the process involved prior to the property being transferred this may damper their excitement. There may also be delays in the transaction. In order to avoid unnecessary frustration, it is vital that parties to the transaction understand the processes involved and that delays are sometimes inevitable.

The deed of sale will normally be the starting point in a transaction for a conveyancer who has been instructed to attend to the transfer.  This conveyancer is also known as the transferring attorney and is normally the main link between the other attorneys involved the transfer transaction.

Postponements, delays and interruptions

  1. A major role of the conveyancer is informing any mortgagees, for example banks, about the transfer so that any notice periods for the cancellation of bonds can start running. The notice period is usually up to 90 days. The transfer may be delayed as a result of this notice period.
  1. Obtaining the various certificates, receipts and consents applicable to the transaction in question also takes time. Examples of these is the rate clearance certificate, transfer duty receipt, homeowners’ association’s consent to the transfer, levy clearance certificate, electrical compliance certificate and plumbing certificate. The time it takes to obtain these certificates will differ from case to case. After an inspection by a plumber or electrician, for example, it may be found that certain work needs to be carried out before the certificates will be issued.
  1. Once all the documents are lodged at the Deeds Office by the conveyancer, an internal process is followed, which has different time frames in the various Deeds Offices. This time frame can also vary in a particular Deeds Office. It is best to enquire from your conveyancer what the Deeds Office time frame is at any given stage.

There are many ways in which the transfer process could be delayed, these are just some of the examples. If you feel that the process is taking too long, then you should contact your conveyancer.

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. (E&OE)

Reference:

 Aktebesorging, UNISA 2004, Department Private Law, Ramwell, Brink & West

CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES AND COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY

Since the promulgation of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 120 of 1998, the position has changed in that customary marriages are now recognised in our law. A marriage that is valid in terms of customary law and was in existence at the time of commencement of the Act, is for all purposes recognised as a marriage in terms of the Act. In the case of a person being in more than one customary marriage, all valid customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the Act, are for all purposes recognised as valid marriages in terms of the Act.

This also means that customary marriages will fall under community of property. For a customary marriage not to fall under community of property, an ante nuptial contract must be in place.

What is a customary marriage?

  • It is a marriage entered into between a man and a woman, negotiated and celebrated according to the prevailing customary law in their community.
  • A customary marriage entered into before 15 November 2000 is recognised as a valid marriage, however, it will be regulated in terms of the specific traditions and customs applicable at the time the marriage was entered into.
  • A customary marriage entered into after 15 November 2000 is recognised as a valid marriage and will receive full legal protection irrespective of whether it is monogamous or polygamous.
  • A monogamous customary marriage will automatically be in community of property, unless it is stipulated otherwise in an ante nuptial contract.

In a polygamous marriage, the husband must apply to the High Court for permission to enter into such a marriage and provide the court with a written contract stating how the property in the marriages will be regulated (to protect the property interests of both the existing and prospective spouses).

Registering Customary Marriages

Customary marriages must be registered within three months of taking place. This can be done at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or through a designated traditional leader in areas where there are no Home Affairs offices.

The following people should present themselves at either a Home Affairs office or a traditional leader in order to register a customary marriage:

  • The two spouses (with copies of their valid identity books and a lobola agreement, if available).
  • At least one witness from the bride’s family.
  • At least one witness from the groom’s family.
  • And/or the representative of each of the families.

In the event that the spouses were minors (or one was a minor) at the time of the customary marriage, the parents should also be present when the request to register the marriage is made.

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)

Reference:

https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/quicklaw-guides/marriages

https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/customary-marriages

http://www.legalcity.net/Index.cfm?fuseaction=RIGHTS.article&ArticleID=5331587

DOMAIN NAMES AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

There is often confusion when it comes to registering domains names and intellectual property. The reason for this is simple – when a company needs to decide on a domain name, it generally chooses one of its own trade marks. However, it might be that someone else has already registered a domain name that is similar, or the same, as a company’s trade mark.

As a result, the issues that surface in trade mark disputes often crop up in domain name disputes too. However, the court has already recognised that trade mark principles are applicable in domain name disputes.

Who handles domain name disputes?

When domain names first appeared on the scene, disputes as to who was entitled to the registration of a particular name were handled by the courts, usually by way of trade mark infringement or passing-off proceedings.

  1. But now there are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures that relate to the various domain names.
  2. So, for example, disputes regarding ‘.co.za’ domain names are handled by way of the ADR procedure that was established by the Regulations passed under the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) 25 of 2002.

When does a domain name have trade mark infringement?

An example of a case which deals with the issue of domain name registrations and trade mark includes kingo.co.za and kingonumbers.co.za.

  1. It was found that, even though the registrant had got in first with a domain name registration (kingonumbers), the complainant, Kingo, had stronger rights to the trade mark Kingo through use, and Kingonumbers would be seen as a natural extension of Kingo.
  2. The review court used this quote from the panel’s decision: The crux of this decision is who owns “Kingo”? It is settled law that the person who has appropriated a mark for use in respect of goods or services as a trade mark, may claim to be the proprietor.

When it comes to domain names, if a name has been trade marked by someone else, then you shouldn’t try using it. It would be like registering a domain name such as nikeshoes.co.za – You would be treading on thin ice. However, if your chosen domain name has not been trade marked, then it shouldn’t be a problem, even if another company would seem to benefit from your registered domain name. For instance, registering a domain name such as greatshoes.co.za would not be a trade mark violation if “great shoes” has not be trade marked. If another shoe company wanted to use that domain name, they would have to buy it from you or find another.

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)

Reference:

https://domaindisputes.co.za/news4.php?newsID=32

http://www.mondaq.com/x/247030/Trademark/Domain+Names+The+High+Court+Has+Its+Say

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SOMEONE IS ARRESTED FOR A CRIME?

Arrest is one of the lawful methods of securing the attendance of an accused person in court. It is also the most drastic method. Section 38 of the Criminal Procedure Act states that methods of securing attendance of an accused person include:

  1. Arrest;
  2. Summons;
  3. written notice; and
  4. Indictment.

The basic principle of South African criminal procedure is that of access to courts, in accordance with section 34 of the Constitution.
When can a person be arrested?

A person may be arrested either on the strength of a warrant of arrest or when a police officer witnesses a person committing an offence or has probable cause to believe that a person was involved in the commission of a crime.

What rights does a person have when arrested?

If someone has, or is in the process of being arrested, they have the right to be informed of the charges on which they are being arrested. Most importantly, they have the right to remain silent, to be informed promptly of such right and the consequences of not remaining silent. Any information uttered or willingly given to an officer may be used against them in court.

  1. A person has the right to be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after being arrested.
  2. If the period of 48 hours expires outside ordinary court hours or on a day which is not an ordinary court day, the accused must be brought before a court not later than the end of the first following court day.

After an arrest a person will, more often than not, be detained at a police station. In detention, you may be searched. You may however not be searched without your consent and a person of the same sex should conduct the search.

What rights does a person have when being detained?

When being detained, a person must be informed promptly of the reason.

  • The police must inform a detainee of these rights and when informed it must be in a language that the person can understand.
  • Choose to, and consult with an attorney of his/her choice, and should such person not have the means to appoint an attorney of choice, to have a legal practitioner assigned by the state at the state’s expense and to be promptly informed of such rights.
  • Be contained in conditions that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, reading material and medical treatment.
  • Communicate with, and be visited by, the person’s spouse or partner, next of kin, chosen religious counsellor, and chosen medical practitioner.
  • Be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  

Police bail and warning

For minor offences ’police bail’ can be granted or the police may release a detainee on a warning. In the case of police bail, the investigating officer will propose an amount for bail and an agreement should then be reached on the amount of bail.

After payment of this amount the arrested person may be released from custody. There should always be an officer on duty of sufficient rank to make the decision to grant or refuse police bail.

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)

Reference

http://www.daff.gov.za/doaDev/sideMenu/ForestryWeb/webapp/Documents/ForestFire/192.168.10.11/nvffa.nsf/4d2641997589c2e342256d72003e35fc/8ac6623a9dbe92ca42256ea700447f8302ec.html?OpenDocument

https://www.saps.gov.za/faqdetail.php?fid=8

ANTENUPTIAL CONTRACTS: WITH OR WITHOUT THE ACCRUAL SYSTEM?

If you don’t have an ANC, you are automatically married in community of property. This means that there is one estate between a husband and a wife. Everything is shared equally between spouses, which includes debts. However, with an antenuptial contract, the estates of each spouse remain separate. The difference comes with the addition of the accrual system.

What is an antenuptial contract?

An ANC determines whether a marriage will be out of community of property with/without the accrual system. It must be signed by the persons entering into a marriage, two witnesses and a notary public, and it must be registered in the Deeds Registries office within the prescribed time period.

What is the accrual system?

The accrual system is a formula that is used to calculate how much the spouse with the larger estate must pay the smaller estate if the marriage comes to an end through death or divorce. Only property acquired during the marriage can be considered when calculating the accrual.

  • If there is no accrual system, then the spouses have their own estates which contain property and debts acquired prior to and during the marriage – nothing is shared.
  • The underlying philosophy of the accrual system is that each spouse is entitled to take out the asset value that he or she brought into the marriage, and then they share what they have built up together.
  • The accrual system only applies if the marriage ends – either by divorce or death. You cannot claim your share of the joint estate while you’re still married.

Whether or not you decide to include the accrual system in your antenuptial contract depends on the couple. Some may see the relevance while others do not.

It’s important that both of you consult the lawyer who’s drawing up the ANC because both spouses need to be fully aware of the consequences. It’s also important to see someone who’s neutral, and who can mediate what goes into your ANC, because emotions can cloud your judgment, and it can be a stressful negotiation if one spouse has a lot of assets and the other doesn’t, for example.

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)

References:

http://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2014/11/09/nine-things-need-know-antenuptial-contracts/

https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/quicklaw-guides/marriages/

HOW TO REGISTER A NEW COMPANY

The basic steps to register a company under the Companies Act of 2008 at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) involves certain forms and supporting documentation that must be lodged and the accompanied fees paid.

The steps

The first step in registering a new company is optional. A CoR9.1 form must be completed and lodged with the CIPC in order to reserve a name for the company to be registered. However, the Act does make provision for a company to be registered without a name. The company registration number will then be the name of the company until such time as the company properly registers a name. A certified copy of the identity document of the applicant must be submitted as supporting documentation with this form and a filing fee is payable.

The next step is to complete and lodge the CoR14.1 Notice of Incorporation form together with the CoR15.1 Memorandum of Incorporation.

The Notice of Incorporation specifically contains information regarding the type of company to be registered, the incorporation date, financial year end, registered address, number of directors and the company name if applicable. A certified copy of the identity document of the applicant must be submitted as supporting documentation and a filing fee is payable. A CoR14.1A form contains specific information about the directors of the company who will be appointed at registration, and this form must be lodged together with the Cor14.1. Certified copies of the identity documents of all directors to be appointed must be submitted as supporting documentation. An optional form CoR14.1D may be lodged together with the CoR14.1, which indicates any company appointments to be registered with the CIPC, such as a company secretary or auditor.

The Memorandum of Incorporation is probably the most important document when registering a company, since the provisions contained herein will govern the company. It can be short and simple, or long and extremely technical, depending on what type of company is being registered. In this regard, it is best to seek professional advice. The supporting documentation and filing fees applicable will depend on what type of Memorandum of Incorporation is being registered.

If an auditor or company secretary is appointed at registration as contained in the CoR14.1D, a CoR44 form must also be completed and submitted. No filing fee is payable for this form. An original acceptance letter and certified copy of the identity document of the auditor or company secretary must be submitted as supporting documentation.

The CoR21.1 Notice of Registered Address must be completed with the particulars of the registered address of the company. Again a certified copy of the identity document of the applicant must be submitted as supporting documentation, but no filing fee is payable.

Once all the necessary forms and supporting documentation has been submitted and applicable fees paid, the CIPC will issue a Registration Certificate form CoR14.3 if it is satisfied that all provisions in the Act has been satisfied.

Any changes to the information placed on record at the CIPC at the original registration of the company, must be registered without delay and on the proper forms and possible payment of applicable filing fees.

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)

THE RIGHT TO PROTEST: WHAT EMPLOYEES SHOULD KNOW

The right to protest is an integral part of South Africa’s constitution and has recently come to the forefront with mass protest being organised across the country in response to President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffling of cabinet, and the subsequent downgrade of South Africa to junk status. It is also something which often comes under inspection by the people being protested against, as well as employers who raise questions regarding their employees’ right to protest during normal working hours.

Section 17 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution entrenches the right of everyone, “peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.”

Can employees protest during normal working hours?

If an employee of a private company wants to join a protest march during regular working hours, it is necessary that they clear it with their superior first.

  • Any absence from work that is not authorised by the employer constitutes misconduct and gives the employer the right to take disciplinary action against the employee.
  • The type of disciplinary action depends on the circumstances, but can include dismissal if the employer is able to show significant inconvenience caused as a result of the employee’s absence and/or if the absence was in defiance of an express instruction to attend work.

Despite this, the Labour Relations Act does give every employee who is not engaged in an essential service‚ the right to take part in protest action for the purpose of promoting or defending the socio- economic interests of workers.

Conclusion

It is also not a crime to attend a protest unless it has been prohibited and protests can only be prohibited in very specific circumstances. However, employees should confirm with their employers about taking time off to protest and employers should be reasonable about letting their employees protest, considering it is within their right to do so. However, all things that are otherwise illegal, such as violence, vandalism, arson or hate speech, are also illegal during a protest.

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) 

References:

http://www.timeslive.co.za/consumerlive/2017/04/05/Planning-to-skip-work-for-the-protests-on-Friday-Read-this-first

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-04-06-groundup-dont-fall-for-illegal-protest-nonsense/#.WOd7JIiGPIU

NEW TRAFFIC RULES APPROACHING

Up until this point, many people have not paid attention to the traffic rules, or simply not cared. That is about to change with new, stricter traffic regulations being introduced onto South Africans roads in the coming months. This is particularly important for those who take speed limits for granted. 

What are the new rules?

The new regulations from the Department of Transport are expected to be implemented from 11 May, 2017.

These new regulations include:

  • Drivers will have to undergo a practical re-evaluation when renewing a licence;
  • A complete review and revamp of the current K53 test;
  • Speed limits to be reduced from 60km/h to 40km/h in urban areas, from 100 to 80km/h in rural areas and from 120 to 100km/h on freeways running through a residential area; and
  • Goods vehicles above 9,000kg GVM to be banned from public roads during peak travelling times.

A long overdue K53 revamp

Apart from the new road rules, the K53 learner’s manual will be getting a review to cater for the developments in cars and road users.

  • The review would include updates and improvements suggested by examiners, the driving school industry, and the general public.
  • The code 10 test for heavy motor vehicles such as buses and trucks would also be reviewed, to ensure people did not choose it because it was easier than the code 8 test for light motor vehicles.

Conclusion

Breaking the speed limit is never a good idea, and although it may not lead to your imprisonment, it could still result in a lengthy, and unnecessary, court process.

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)

References:

https://businesstech.co.za/news/motoring/151475/__trashed-14/

http://www.wheels24.co.za/News/Guides_and_Lists/finally-new-sa-road-rules-20kmh-speed-limit-reduction-20161201

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