Monthly Archives: January 2015

DIE GEMENEREGHUWELIK IN SUID-AFRIKA

Daar is geen gemenereghuwelik in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg nie. Mense glo dat deur vir ‘n aaneenlopende tydperk saam met iemand anders te woon, regte en verpligtinge tussen hulle gevestig word. Hierdie misverstand kom veral voor by jong volwassenes.

Die enigste manier om onder ons reg beskerming te geniet is deur ‘n universele vennootskapooreenkoms tussen die twee partye te sluit. So ‘n ooreenkoms gee duidelikheid oor die regte en verpligtinge van die partye. Hierdie ooreenkoms sal bepaal wat met die eiendom en bates van die partye gaan gebeur as hulle besluit om uitmekaar te gaan.  Hierdie universele vennootskapooreenkoms tussen die partye is nie afdwingbaar teenoor derdes nie. Slegs ‘n geldige huwelik is afdwingbaar teenoor derdes. Dit is belangrik om daarop te let dat vennote soms gesamentlik en afsonderlik aanspreeklik gehou kan word as hulle binne die bestek van die vennootskap optree. ‘n Ooreenkoms soos hierdie sal regtens bindend wees solank die bepalings nie immoreel of onwettig is nie. Sou daar geen ooreenkoms wees oor die ontbinding van ‘n universele vennootskapooreenkoms nie sal ‘n party slegs geregtig wees op die behoud van die bates wat hy of sy gekoop het en besit en sal hy of sy voorts geregtig wees daarop om proporsioneel die bates te deel volgens die bydrae wat elk tot die vennootskap gemaak het.

Om te bewys dat so ‘n ooreenkoms bestaan sal die partye die volgende moet kan aantoon:

  • Die doel van die vennootskap was om wins te maak.
  • Albei partye moes bygedra het tot die vennootskap.
  • Die bepalings moet tot voordeel wees van albei partye.
  • Die bepalings in die kontrak moet nie onregmatig wees nie.
  • Daar moet geldige wilsooreenstemming wees.
  • Daar is ‘n wedersydse voorneme om ‘n regtens geldige ooreenkoms te skep.

Waar daar geen uitdruklike ooreenkoms bestaan nie mag daar wel ‘n stilswyende ooreenkoms wees. So ‘n stilswyende ooreenkoms kan afgelei word as bevind word dat dit waarskynlik is dat sodanige ooreenkoms tussen die partye bereik is ten tye van hul saamwonery.

Omdat die bestaan van ‘n universele vennootskap moeilik is om te bewys is dit raadsaam om ‘n kontrak aan te gaan waarin uiteengesit word hoe daar met eiendom te werk gegaan moet word as die verhouding weens dood of om ‘n ander rede beëindig word. So ‘n kontrak sal ‘n mate van sekerheid vir die saamwoners skep oor die verdeling van bates en die afrekening van verpligtinge by beëindiging van die verhouding.

Sommige gevolge van ‘n verhouding waar daar nie ‘n geldige verbintenis tussen die partye bestaan nie, is:

  • Geen wedersydse verpligting om onderhoud te betaal nie.
  • Geen vrystelling van skenkingsbelasting in die geval van skenkings aan mekaar nie.
  • Geen voordeel ingevolge erfreg as een party intestaat sterf nie.
  • Geen reg op eiendom of bates van die saamwonende nie.
  • Geen wedersydse verpligting om by te dra tot huishoudelike noodsaaklikhede  nie.

Die ‘Domestic Partnership Bill’ van 2008 is steeds in sy formuleringstadium en daar sal gesien moet word hoe dit geïmplementeer word. In die huidige grondwetlike bedeling is dit onwaarskynlik dat ‘n vennoot in wanhoop gedompel sal word as die ‘Domestic Partnership Bill’ in berekening gebring word.

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.

BE ACQUAINTED WITH THE LAW RELATING TO LABELLING AND ADVERTISING

What is in a label or advert?

Labelling is the transmission of information via letters, figures and artistic characters. Advertising goes a step further as it engages in visual and/or oral creations to endorse or to promote the sale of goods or services through various mediums.

Why is this definitional component of marketing and consumer / business outreach important?

Our laws, in an attempt to protect us against unfair labelling and advertising, require factual and honest labelling and advertising. This principle, which requires honesty in advertising, calls for factual claims and disallows misleading claims, is encoded in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Code of Conduct. The Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) reinforces this requirement of disclosure of all relevant information and further requires that such disclosure must be in plain language.

Preventing or minimising exposure to legal claims for unfair labelling and advertising

  • Have a proper internal advertising standards protocol. This protocol should set out the legal guidelines for all advertisements in whatever format or media, whether they are above the line or below the line, or for public relations releases;
  • Ensure that marketing panels and public relations teams are correctly trained on this protocol. Once trained, continue to ensure compliance as they are generally the teams that are involved in the crafting or supporting of advertisements or releases. At the same time make sure your external advertising and public relations agency is fully compliant and conscious of the laws relating to your specific market;
  • Take care to ensure that all advertisements, public relations releases and labels are reviewed by internal counsel and by external counsel before release or publication.

Adherence to the above guidelines will:

  • ensure factual and legal review and minimise potential CPA claims, as well as minimise ASA review and potential penalties;
  • counter trademark infringement and identify any unauthorised use;
  • prevent false marking if an advert or product affixes the word “patent” to an unpatentable item;
  • prevent both unfair comparative labelling and advertising that promotes your product as superior to your competitors’ without a factual and objective basis.

We recommend that an advertising register be maintained. The register will ensure that a sense of control and accountability is reached, as all releases are documented in the register.  By including a provision that all material be sent for legal review to confirm whether they have been reviewed or not, no unacceptable items will slip through.

Knowing the law relating to labelling and advertising in your field could save you endless headaches, unnecessary litigation, and money.

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

POPI ACT

The Protection of Personal Information Bill, which will soon become law and is commonly referred to as POPI, seeks to regulate the processing of personal information.

It must be read with other relevant statutes such as:

  1. Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (‘ECT’)
  2. Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2002 (‘PAIA’)
  3. Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 70 of 2002 (‘RICA’)
  4. Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (‘CPA’)

Personal information of both employees and clients is – given e-commerce and technology used in connecting businesses – becoming instantly accessible to third parties.

POPI aims to introduce certain protection principles to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information. There are eight information protection principles contained in chapter 3 of the Bill, namely:

Accountability; Processing limitation; Purpose specification; Further processing limitation; Information quality; Openness; Security safeguards; Data subject participation.

The intention is to promote transparency with regard to what information is collected and how it is to be processed. This might be the end of all those unsolicited sales calls and spam we receive on a daily basis.

Processing means broadly anything done with personal information, including collection, usage, storage, dissemination, modification or destruction (whether such processing is automated or not).

POPI compliance involves capturing the minimum required data, ensuring accuracy, and removing data that is no longer required. These measures are likely to improve the overall reliability of the organisation’s databases.

Compliance further demands identifying personal information and taking reasonable measures to protect the data, like tracking the workflow of client documents and ensuring that vital information is not misplaced or falls into the wrong hands.

The POPI Act is very much in line with similar legislation that exists in about 70 to 80 other countries, and South Africa is finally set to fall in line with international standards for the collection and handling of personal information.

The Act does not only protect the way in which information is used and/or re-used by the recipients of the information, but the party gathering the information also has the responsibility to ensure it is accurate, current and not misleading. Personal Information may only be processed if voluntary, specific and informed consent is obtained.

An Information Protection Regulator will be appointed who will have broad powers and may consider the public interest as opposed to an individual’s rights to privacy.

 There are, however, cases where POPI does not apply. Section 4 Exclusions include:

  1. purely household or personal activity;
  2. sufficiently de-identified information;
  3. some state functions including criminal prosecutions, national security etc.;
  4. journalism under a code of ethics;
  5. judiciary functions etc.

Reference:

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

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.

THE POSITION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGES IN SOUTH AFRICA

In December 2005 South Africa became the fifth country in the world and the first country on the African continent to recognise the rights of same-sex couples. The Constitutional Court case of Minister of Home Affairs vs Fourie is the ground-breaking decision which legalised homosexual marriages in South Africa.

The legal question in the Minister of Home Affairs vs Fourie was twofold:

Firstly, the court had to decide whether the fact that no provision was made for same-sex marriages in any statute, amounted to the denial of equal protection of the law and unfair discrimination by the state against homosexuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. Secondly, if such unfair discrimination were to be found, the court had to decide on an appropriate remedy.

Judgement

In a unanimous decision the Constitutional Court declared that the common law definition of marriage, and section 30(1) of the Marriage Act, which excluded same-sex marriages, were inconsistent with sections 9(1) and 9(3) and section 10 of the Constitution that dealt with the right to equality and the right to human dignity respectively.

The Court highlighted that South Africa has a multitude of family formations and as such it was held to be inappropriate to enforce any one particular form as the only socially and legally acceptable one. The Court emphasised a constitutional need to acknowledge the long history in South Africa of the marginalisation and persecution of gays and lesbians. Further, the Court acknowledged the lack of a comprehensive legal regulation of the family law rights of gays and lesbians.

It was found that excluding same-sex marriage is an indication that homosexuals are to be considered “outsiders”. In the words of Judge Sachs, writing on behalf of the majority: “To penalise people for being who and what they are, is profoundly disrespectful of the human personality and violators of equality. Equality means equal concern and respect across difference.” In effect the Court acknowledged a “right to be different”.

Religious arguments

Among the various arguments opposed to the issue at hand were inevitable contentions raised by religious institutions, which the Court respectfully heard. However, it was held that judges would be placed in an intolerable situation if they were called upon to construe religious texts and take sides on issues that have caused deep divisions within religious bodies. In the open and democratic society contemplated by the South African Constitution there must be a mutually respectful co-existence between the secular and the sacred. Furthermore, it was held that the recognition of same-sex marriages would in no way force religious institutions to accept or perform such marriages within their chosen belief, nor would the recognition deprive any religion or heterosexual couple from marrying within the tenets of their beliefs.

Civil Union Act 17 of 2006

The final finding of the Court was that the common law definition of marriage was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it did not permit same-sex couples to enjoy the status and the benefits, coupled with responsibilities it accords to heterosexual couples. Furthermore, section 30(1) of the Marriage Act was declared to be invalid to the extent that it gave effect to the exclusion of same-sex marriages. In order to remedy the situation parliament was given 12 months to cure the defect through the implementation of legislation.

Ultimate relief came in the form of the Civil Union Act 17 of 2006, which makes provision for same-sex marriages and operates alongside the Marriage Act, such that any individual in South Africa may now conclude a marriage either in its traditional form (under the Marriage Act) or in the form of a civil union (under the Civil Union Act). Civil partnerships (or unions) are entirely the same as marriages insofar as legal consequences are concerned but just differ in name.

Conclusion

One of the most important lessons to be learnt from this case is in this statement made by the Court: “At issue is a need to affirm the very character of our society as one based on tolerance and mutual respect. The test of tolerance is not how one finds space for people with whom, and practices with which, one feels comfortable, but how one accommodates the expression of what is discomfiting.”

It goes without saying that the enactment of the new Act changes the discriminatory background of common law in respect of same-sex relationships. The consequences of a civil union are now the same as in a marriage of a heterosexual couple. It must be noted that an unregistered same-sex relationship is not governed by the provisions of this Act, and that the law allows for churches to refuse to perform civil unions.

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.

MEDE-EIENAARSKAP VAN GROND

Die woord “mede-eienaarskap” met betrekking tot grond beteken dat twee of meer persone ‘n stuk grond gelyktydig in onverdeelde aandele besit. ‘n Aandeel in die grond beteken nie dat  ‘n bepaalde gedeelte van die grond besit word nie. ‘n Mede-eienaar wat ‘n aandeel in grond hou, kan nie aanspraak maak op ‘n bepaalde stuk grond nie, selfs al het sy mede-eienaars by wyse van ‘n ooreenkoms ingestem om okkupasie of gebruik van ‘n bepaalde stuk grond aan hom te gee. Die reg wat hy het, is op ‘n onverdeelde aandeel in die geheel van die grond wat in gesamentlike eienaarskap gehou word. Die gedeelte wat hy okkupeer, word gesamentlik besit deur hom en sy mede-eienaars in die grond. Indien hy ‘n huis bou op die gedeelte wat hy okkupeer, sal die huis gesamentlik besit word deur al die eienaars.

Wanneer X, Y en Z  mede-eienaars van ‘n plaas is, is hulle nie geregtig op ‘n fisiese deel van die plaas nie, maar elkeen van hulle het ‘n onverdeelde aandeel in die geheel van die plaas. Die aandeelhouding sal nie noodwendig altyd gelyk wees nie. Een persoon kan ‘n halwe aandeelhouding besit, terwyl die ander twee eienaars elk ‘n vyf en twintig persent aandeel kan hou. Mede-eienaarskap kan ongelukkig soms tot geskille tussen die eienaars lei.

Samewerking tussen die mede-eienaars

Dit is raadsaam dat die mede-eienaars ‘n ooreenkoms aangaan wat die verhouding tussen hulle reguleer. Ongelukkig is hierdie ooreenkoms nie afdwingbaar teenoor derde partye nie. Die toestemming van al die mede-eienaars word vereis wanneer administratiewe besluite geneem moet word. Geen eienaar is geregtig om veranderings of verbeterings op die eiendom aan te bring sonder die toestemming van die ander eienaars nie. Al die eienaars moet saamstem oor die gebruik van die eiendom, byvoorbeeld indien hulle bome wil afkap, ’n stoorfasiliteit of -gebou wil oprig of beeste in die veld wil laat wei. As mede-eienaars nie in besluite geraadpleeg word nie kan hulle die hof nader om ‘n interdik toe te staan. Die hof kan selfs gelas dat geboue wat opgerig is, verwyder word. In gevalle waar die doel is om die eiendom te bewaar, is dit egter nie altyd nodig om die toestemming van die mede-eienaars te verkry nie.

Die winste en verliese

Al die mede-eienaars moet proporsioneel bydra tot noodsaaklike en ook nuttige uitgawes vir die bewaring van die eiendom. Dié uitgawes sluit in belasting en uitgawes om die eiendom in ‘n goeie toestand te hou, maar sluit nie luukse uitgawes in nie. Verliese en koste moet deur die mede-eienaars gedeel word, behalwe waar dit toegeskryf kan word aan nalatigheid van een van die eienaars. Soos met uitgawes, moet vrugte en winste verdeel word onder die mede-eienaars volgens elke eienaar se aandeelhouding.

Vervreemding van ‘n aandeel

‘n Mede-eienaar kan sy aandeel vervreem of selfs aan sy erfgename bemaak, sonder die toestemming van die ander eienaars, selfs teen hulle wil. Die balju kan ook beslag lê op ‘n mede-eienaar se aandeel.

Gebruik van die eiendom

Elke mede-eienaar kan die eiendom  gebruik in ooreenstemming met sy onverdeelde aandeel. Hy moet dit egter gebruik met inagneming van die regte van die ander mede-eienaars. Elke mede-eienaar, sy werknemers en gaste, is geregtig op vrye toegang tot enige deel van die eiendom, behalwe as die mede-eienaars ooreengekom het dat ‘n gedeelte van die eiendom vir die uitsluitlike gebruik van ‘n mede-eienaar gereserveer word.

Fisiese verdeling

Mede-eienaars kan besluit om die eiendom te verdeel, wat gewoonlik gebeur as hulle nie oor die benutting van die eiendom kan saamstem nie. Die eiendom sal dan fisies verdeel word in ooreenstemming met die waarde van die eiendom en elke mede-eienaar se aandeel daarin. Wanneer dit egter nie ekonomies is nie, wat gewoonlik die geval is met ‘n plaas, kan die eiendom toegeken word aan ‘n mede-eienaar, maar hy moet dan die ander mede-eienaars vergoed. Die hof kan ook beveel dat die eiendom op ‘n openbare veiling verkoop word en die opbrengs onder die mede-eienaars verdeel word. Daar is streng statutêre beheer oor die onderverdeling van grond en die gebruik daarvan, wat die onderverdeling nie altyd moontlik maak nie.

Mede-eienaarskap is een van die maniere hoe mens eienaar kan word van ‘n eiendom wat andersins nie bekostig kan word nie. Wees egter bewus van die slaggate, kies jou mede-eienaars oordeelkundig en stel ‘n ooreenkoms op om die onderlinge verhouding tussen die partye te reël ten opsigte van onder andere die betaling van die verband en erfbelasting, die dag-tot-dag uitgawes, asook die huisreëls.

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.

THE ABC OF THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN

Section 229 of the Children’s Act states that the purpose of the adoption procedure is to protect and nurture children in a safe, healthy environment with positive support, and to promote the goals of permanency planning by connecting children to other safe and nurturing family relationships intended to last a lifetime.

When can a child be adopted?

In terms of Section 229 of the Children’s Act, any child can be adopted if:

  1. it is in the best interest of the child;
  2. the child is adoptable; and
  3. the requirements of Chapter 15 of the Act, which deals with adoption of children, are complied with.

A social worker determines whether a child is adoptable by establishing whether the child meets the requirements set out in Section 230(3) of the Children`s Act.

A child is adoptable when:

  1. the child is an orphan who has no guardian who is willing to adopt the child;
  2. the location or whereabouts of the natural parent or guardian of the child cannot be determined;
  3. the child is left behind (abandoned);
  4. the child’s natural parent or guardian abused or deliberately neglected the child, or allowed the child to be abused or willfully neglected;
  5. the child needs an alternative permanent displacement.

Who may adopt a child?

Section 231 of the Children’s Act states that a child may be adopted by:

  1. a husband and wife jointly;
  2. partners in a permanent domestic life partnership (cohabitation relationship), jointly;
  3. persons who share a common residence and form a permanent family unit, together;
  4. a widow, widower, divorced or unmarried person;
  5. a married person whose spouse is the parent of the child or a person whose permanent cohabiting partner is the parent of the child;
  6. the biological father of an illegitimate child;
  7. a foster parent of the child.

These individuals must meet the following requirements as set out in Section 231(2) in terms of which the adoptive parent must be:

  1. fit and proper to be entrusted with full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child;
  2. willing and able to undertake, exercise and maintain the parental responsibilities and rights of the child;
  3. over the age of 18 years;
  4. properly assessed by an adoption social worker for compliance with paragraphs 1 and 2.

It is important to note that a person shall not be disqualified to adopt a child because of his/her financial ability.

What is the effect of an adoption order?

ON PERSONS FORMERLY INVOLVED IN THE CHILD’S LIFE:

Unless there is a pre-adoption agreement that is accepted and confirmed by the Court, an adoption will terminate or make the following void:

  1. Parental responsibilities and rights of any person, including a parent, step-parent or cohabitation partner, that he/she had before the adoption.
  2. All claims of contact with the child by any family member or person mentioned above;
  3. All rights and responsibilities that the child had with respect to the abovementioned persons and any previous placement order regarding the child [Section 242(1) of the Children’s Act].

ON ADOPTIVE PARENTS:

The adoption order transfers full parental responsibilities and rights on behalf of the child to the adoptive parents.

  1. The child assumes the surname of the adoptive parents unless otherwise stated in the Court order.
  2. The adoptive parents are not permitted to allow any marriage or sexual intercourse between the child and any other person who would also have been prohibited from doing so before the adoption.
  3. Finally, the adoption order determines that any property rights the child may have shall not be affected by the adoption [Section 242 (1) of the Children’s Act].

An adopted child must be regarded as the “child” of the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents as the “parents” of the adopted child.

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.

TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY…

When a man proposes marriage to the love of his life and she accepts the proposal and they become engaged, they are said to have concluded a contract to marry in the future. When an engagement is called off one often gets the situation where the aggrieved party wants to sue his/her ex for breach of promise.

Recent case law regarding the breach of promise to marry

Although there is frustration and heartbreak that may be experienced at the end of an engagement, the unfortunate reality of the matter is that it is not that easy to succeed in a monetary claim against somebody who is not intent on fulfilling his/her promises.

Our common law has, over the years, recognised the principle that the aggrieved party has a claim for breach of promise. Traditionally this claim comprises two parts, namely:

  1. The delictual claim which the aggrieved party would have under the action injuriarum for contumelia, in other words, damages for the humiliation caused as a result of the break-up of the relationship; and
  1. The contractual claim for the actual financial loss suffered by the aggrieved party as a result of the break-up of the relationship of the parties.

Van Jaarsveld vs Bridges (2010) SCA

In the Supreme Court of Appeal case Van Jaarsveld vs Bridges (2010), it was found that no claim in South African law exists other than actual expenses incurred in the planning and preparation of the marriage.

In the judgement DP Harms, in respect of breach of promise, draws attention to a court’s right and more importantly, duty to develop the common law, taking into account the interests of justice and at the same time to promote the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights.

DP Harms said that he is unable to accept that parties, when promising to marry each other, at that stage of their relationship would contemplate that a breach of their engagement would have financial consequences as if they had in fact married. The assumption of the two parties is that their marital regime will be determined by their subsequent marriage. DP Harms then concluded that in his view an engagement is more of an unenforceable pactum de contrahendo, providing a spatium deliberandi: “a time to get to know each other better and in which they would decide whether or not to finally get married.”

ES Cloete vs A Maritz (2013) WCH

The question whether or not the claim for breach of promise is a valid cause of action in South African law was once again considered in the Western Cape High Court. In this Court, Judge Robert Henney was the presiding Judge in the matter of ES Cloete vs A Maritz.

Miss Cloete claimed that Mr Maritz proposed formally to her in Namibia on the 9th February 1999 with an engagement ring, and she accepted.

The relationship was turbulent and a decade later Maritz called off the engagement and the intended wedding, telling her that he no longer wanted to marry her or even see her, and that he had someone new in his life.

Cloete instituted action against Maritz and alleged that Maritz’s refusal to marry her amounted to a repudiation of the agreement which they had reached 10 years earlier.

Her claim

There were three aspects to Cloete’s claim:

  1. She wanted repayment of R26 000.00 that she had given him in 1994 and 1996 for a business he was involved in.
  1. She wanted R6.5 million to make up for the financial benefits she would have enjoyed had they concluded the marriage, including amounts for the use and enjoyment of the house commensurate with the lifestyle enjoyed and maintained by the parties at the time of their cohabitation. She also wanted maintenance of R8 500.00 a month for 25 years.
  1. Finally she wanted R250 000.00 in damages for breach of promise, impairment to her personal dignity and her reputation.

His claim

Maritz denied the allegations that Cloete has made and stated in replying papers that Cloete was in fact the one who had called off their wedding and he had merely accepted it. Maritz raised a special plea that “breach of promise” did not constitute a valid cause of action based on the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgement in Van Jaarsveld vs Bridges 2010 (4) SA 558 (SCA), a judgement which this court is obliged to follow.

Judgement

In his judgment Judge R Henney said: “Clearly, to hold a party accountable on a rigid contractual footing, where such a party fails to abide by a promise to marry does not reflect the changed mores, morals or public interest of today.”

Judge R Henney went on to say in his judgement: “It is my view that considerations of public policy and our own society’s changed mores cannot permit a party to be made to pay prospective damages on a purely contractual footing, where such a party wants to resign from a personal relationship and thus commits a breach of a promise to marry. Such a situation is in my view entirely untenable and cannot be allowed.”

The judge also said: “As pointed out by Sinclair, The Law of Marriage Vol 1 (1996), to hold a party liable for contractual damages for breach of promise may in fact lead parties to enter into marriages they do not in good conscience want to enter into, purely due to the fear of being faced with such a claim. This is an untenable situation.”

Conclusion

The world has moved on and morals have changed. Divorce, which in earlier days was only available in the event of adultery or desertion, is now available in the event of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There is no reason why a just cause for ending an engagement should not likewise include the lack of desire to marry the particular person, irrespective of the ‘guilt’ of the latter. Unwillingness to marry is clear evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of the engagement. It appears illogical to attach more serious consequences to an engagement than to a marriage.

Maritz`s special plea was upheld and it was found that the claim for breach of promise is not a valid cause of action in South African law. As appears from the above decision, no claim in law exist other than actual expenses incurred in the preparing of the marriage. This effectively excluded any damages for breach of the promise to marry.

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.

VISAGIEVOS PARTNERS WIN THE CAPE TOWN ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION GOLFDAY CUP

Two Partners form VisagieVos Attorneys, Werner Greeff and Jaco van der Westhuizen have won the 33rd Annual Cape Town Attorney’s Association Golf day held at Mowbray Golf Club on 3 October 2014.

The “Attorneys and Advocate Golf Day” as it is known by the legal fraternity is an annual golf day arranged by the Cape Town Attorneys Association in which Practicing Attorney members of the Cape Law Society as well as Advocates and Supreme Court Judges compete against each other in three different competitions on the Golf Day. The competition has been held every year since 1981 and VisagieVos had previously also won the competition in 1995.

Our partners won the floating trophy for the Attorneys in the 2 Ball Better ball competition between all the Attorneys playing on the day and Werner Greeff also won the golf day for the player with the lowest individual score. He further contributed towards the Advocates Cup in which he and his partner Adv Henco De La Rey also won the Advocates competition.

Werner Greeff is a partner in the Commercial and Property law department and head of the Estate Department and Jaco vd Westhuizen heads up the Insurance Law Department and we congratulate them on their performance and achievement.

SONDE MET DIE BURE

Die vraag op almal se lippe is, wat kan ek doen aan my buurman se bome en plante wat skade aan my eiendom en ongemak vir my veroorsaak? Hy het natuurlik ‘n reg om sy eiendom te benut soos hy wil, maar wat van my reg om my eiendom te benut en te geniet? Sy reg om sy eiendom te geniet kan tog sekerlik nie ten koste van ‘n ander persoon wees nie?

Bome met laterale wortelstelsels is gewoonlik die sondebok in dispute tussen bure. In die saak Bingham v City Council of Johannesburg 1934 WLD 180 het die munisipaliteit bome langs ‘n voetpad geplant vir versieringsdoeleindes. Die probleem was dat die bome wat hulle gekies het, eikebome was wat sterk laterale wortelstelsels het wat die omliggende grond dreineer. Die blomme en struike in Bingham se tuin het as gevolg hiervan in die slag gebly en, nog erger, die sterk wortelstelsel was besig om sy weg te vind  na die huis se fondasie. Omdat die boom se wortelstelsel ‘n bedreiging vir die eiendom (die woning) ingehou het, het die hof die munisipaliteit beveel om die bome te verwyder.

In Vogel v Crewe and another [2004] 1 All SA 587 (T) is die kwessie van boomwortels weer eens in die hof bespreek. Vogel en Crewe was bure en Crewe was van mening dat ‘n boom wat twee meter van die gemeenskaplike grensmuur geplant was, die oorsaak van al die probleme op sy eiendom was. Volgens hom het die boom se wortelstelsel skade aan die grensmuur aangerig en blare van die boom het in sy swembad geval en ook sy geute en rioolstelsel verstop. Die hof se benadering was gebaseer op ‘n objektiewe toets van redelikheid. Hulle het die voordele wat die bewaring van die boom inhou, soos die visuele genot, skaduwee en produksie van suurstof, opgeweeg teen die ongerief wat dit vir Crewe veroorsaak het. Crewe was egter nie in staat om te bewys dat die probleem met die blare in sy swembad, geute en rioolstelsel afkomstig was van die spesifieke boom nie en die hof het bevind dat die grensmuur maklik herstel kon word.  Geen drastiese aksie, soos die verwydering van die boom, was dus nodig nie en Crewe se aansoek het nie geslaag nie.

Uit die voorgaande is dit duidelik dat die hof slegs die verwydering van ‘n boom sal gelas indien die boom se wortelstelsel ‘n werklike en onmiddellike bedreiging vir die eiendom inhou. Hulle sal nie die verwydering van ‘n boom gelas weens takke wat oor ‘n muur hang of blare wat in ‘n erf val nie.

In Malherbe v Ceres Municipality 1951 (4) SA 510 A is bevestig dat indien jou buurman se boomtakke oor jou muur groei of die wortelstelsel jou eiendom binnedring en hy weier om dit te verwyder, jy die reg het om die takke en wortelstelsel by die grensmuur af te kap.

Hopelik sal julle in staat wees om boomverwante geskille op ‘n hoflike wyse te skik, en onthou, jy het ook die reg om jou eiendom ten volle te geniet.

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.

DONATIONS

Whether you are thinking of helping your son financially to enable him to purchase his first property or donating money towards a worthy cause, there are some things to keep in mind. A donation is defined in the Income Tax Act No 58 of 1962 as “any gratuitous disposal of property including any gratuitous waiver or renunciation of a right.” The donor may therefore not receive anything in return from the donee, as this will constitute an exchange agreement.

There are two types of donation, viz. donatio inter vivos (donation between two persons who are both alive) and donatio mortis causa (a donation where the donee will only receive the donation on the death of the donor).

The requirements for both an inter vivos and a mortis causa donation are:

  1. The donor must make an offer to donate, which offer must be accepted by the donee;
  2. The donor must have the necessary legal capacity to make the donation and the donee must have the necessary legal capacity to accept the donation;
  3. Anything that a person can trade (in commercio), can be donated;
  4. A donation must be legal and feasible; and
  5. A donation must be identified or identifiable.

Donations can also be withdrawn. In the case of an inter vivos donation, the donor can at any time before the donee accepts the donation, withdraw such donation. After acceptance of the donation by the donee, a valid contract has been formed and the donor will only be able to withdraw the donation in the case of gross ingratitude on the part of the donee, e.g. if the donee threatens the donor’s life. A mortis causa donation can be repealed at any time before the donor’s death, as the donation will only be ratified on the death of the donor.

Finally, and probably of the most importance to some people, is the matter of donations tax payable to the Receiver of Revenue. Currently donations tax is calculated at 20% of the fair market value of the property donated.

In terms of article 59 of the Income Tax Act, the donor is liable for payment of donations tax within three months after the donation was made. If the donor fails to pay the tax timeously, the donor and the donee will be jointly and severally liable for the payment thereof. An individual can make a donation of R100 000 per annum, free of donations tax.

There are also a few exemptions in terms of section 56 of the Income Tax Act, which should be noted. They include the following:

  1. A donation in terms of a duly registered prenuptial or postnuptial contract to the spouse of the donor;
  2. A donation between spouses who are still married to each other;
  3. A donation in the form of donatio mortis causa (this donation occurs in terms of the donor’s will and is therefore not subject to donations tax);
  4. A donation that was cancelled within six months after it was made; and
  5. Donations to certain public benefit organisations.

If spouses are married in community of property they should pay attention to section 57A of the Income Tax Act. If any property, which forms part of the joint estate of both spouses, is donated by one of the spouses, such donation shall be deemed to have been made in equal shares by each spouse. However, if property that has been donated by one of the spouses belongs to only that spouse (the donor), the donation shall be deemed to have been made solely by the spouse who made the donation.

There are several factors to keep in mind when making a donation and it is therefore advisable to consult with an expert to discuss the tax and legal implications before a decision 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.