Plot and plan: The strange case of the unsigned sale agreement

A4BYou buy a plot in a residential development and the developer agrees to build you a house to stated specifications and plans.  You pay in full for the plot and it is transferred into your name.  All good so far.

But then you fall out with the developer over the costs, finishes and other specs for the building work.  What happens now?  A High Court case illustrating a particular danger for both developers and buyers revolved around these rather unusual facts –

  1. A buyer bought a piece of land and, as part of the sale agreement, chose to have built on the plot a house (one of five standard types of house offered by the developer).
  2. A significant twist here was that, unnoticed by either party, the sale agreement had never been signed by the seller, only by the buyer.
  3. Transfer of the plot to the buyer went through smoothly, but when it came to building the house, the buyer asked for additions and alterations to the standard specs.  He was unhappy to note that the quote for these deviations included an additional “modification fee” of R110,000.
  4. The buyer was having none of that and refused to agree, whereupon the seller purported to cancel the whole agreement.
  5. Again the buyer was having none of that and sued to keep his plot and to force the developer to build his house.  The developer in turn demanded its land back.

Question 1: Can the developer get its land back?

You will know that in our law a sale of land agreement is one of the few that is only valid if in writing and signed by both seller and buyer (or by their authorised agents).  So you cannot force transfer to proceed on an unsigned sale agreement.

But what happens if, as in this case, transfer has taken place anyway?  What is not widely known (and perhaps seems a bit strange at first blush) is that, if the buyer pays in full and the parties intend ownership to pass at the time, the transfer is valid.  A finalised transfer cannot be rolled back just because the sale agreement wasn’t in writing and signed.

The parties in this case for example didn’t even notice the lack of signature and the buyer went ahead and paid in full for the land.  So the plot was validly transferred to the buyer and the developer can’t get its land back.

Question 2:  Can the buyer force the developer to build his house?

This sale agreement, held the Court, was not a contract for sale of a house, it was “two notionally separate contracts: one for the sale of land and one for the construction of a dwelling on the land. It is only in relation to the contract for the sale of land that the formality of signature is required.”

Consequently the developer was ordered – per the unsigned agreement – to build the buyer his standard house, without the additions/alterations and without the disputed “modification fee”.

Buyers

Plot and plan contracts are by their very nature complex, so as always, agree to nothing – verbally or in writing – without full legal advice!

Developers

Make sure your plot and plan agreements are tightly drawn, and properly signed, to avoid the sort of scenario above – you run enough risks without adding to them unnecessarily!

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)

Copyright infringement: A R10,5m award fires a warning shot

A5BA High Court award to an aggrieved copyright holder has fired a strong warning shot across the bows of potential infringers.

The background is that two municipalities had, without authorisation from the holders of copyright in a computer program, copied it after an initial licence agreement had terminated.  They then illegally changed security keys and expiry dates so that they could continue using the program without paying any fees.

The Court, in addition to interdicting the municipalities from continuing to hold or use the program and authorising the copyright holder to check the municipalities’ computer systems for compliance, also awarded it R10,5m in “reasonable royalty” payments (plus monthly royalty payments from date of summons, interest and legal costs).

It seems that copyright infringers who think that the worst sanction they face if they get caught is an interdict, some legal costs and a nominal damages award, could well be in for a major shock.

For more advice and practical solutions you are welcome to contact our Intellectual Property & Information Technology (link) department.

© DotNews, 2005-2016. This newsletter 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 omission. (E&OE)

Contracting with minors in a digital context

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In this article, we examine whether contracts entered online by minors, using their parents’ credit cards, are legally binding in the specific context of social media such as Facebook.

Both Common law and legislation deal with the capacity of minors who enter into different types of contracts. According to the Children’s Act, 38 of 2005 a minor is a person between the ages of seven and 18 years. In terms of common law a minor does not have sufficient capacity to incur binding obligations under a contract and must obtain the assistance or consent of their guardian to do so. This consent can be given before the contract is concluded or thereafter, in which case it is seen as ratification of the contract. There are exceptions to this rule, which may be found in various pieces of legislation as well as in common law, such as contracts where the minor obtains only rights and no duties (e.g. a donation).

A minor can escape liability even when they have been bound in terms of the contract (i.e. where the guardian has assisted the minor in the conclusion of the contract, consented to or ratified the contract). This can be done where the contract was prejudicial to him or her at the time that it was concluded. The court may then, on application, set the contract aside and order that each party be placed in the same position as what they were in before the contract had been concluded.

Facebook is currently involved in an ongoing class-action lawsuit. In this lawsuit, a class of parents in America are pressing their claim that Facebook should change how it handles online transactions by minors.

Attorneys for the parents in the above case note that it is important that Facebook has knowledge of a user’s actual age but still treats children the same as adult users when it comes to taking their money.

One of the biggest issues here is that reciprocal performance, being the payment of money via credit or debit card and the child obtaining credits, takes place almost immediately. Therefore, if the parent were to be refunded, the minor would be unjustifiably enriched using the credits.

The system, that Facebook currently employs, is therefore problematic since it takes advantage of children who may not fully understand the contracts that they are entering into when they purchase game credits. Furthermore, should the parents be immediately refunded in the current system, it may lead to situations where the parent consents to the purchases and then after the child obtains the enjoyment from the credits, request that their accounts be credited due to a ‘lack of consent’.

It is therefore clear that this system of payment should be changed. We should obtain clarity on how to deal with this in South Africa once the class-action suit in America has been concluded and a solution has been reached. At present, it seems that there will be no alternative for parents whose children overspend or use their credit or debit cards, without permission. If your child has, a Facebook gaming habit it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your wallet until we have clarity on the recourse available to parents who find themselves in this situation.

Bibliography

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 Living Will

Click here for Afrikaans Article

Most  people are familiar with a will or testament and understand the importance of having this legal declaration drafted, by which the testator nominates an executor to manage his or her estate and provide for the distribution of his or her property to beneficiaries when he or she dies.

But how many people have considered drafting a living will?

A living will  does not deal with assets, heirs and beneficiaries, but with the philosophy of death and dying, and should be considered carefully and drafted by a professional.

A living will is a legal document expressing a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatment when that person can no longer voice his or her wishes.  It is also referred to as an advance medical directive.

A typical clause in a living will would read as follows:

If the time comes when I can no longer take part in decisions for my own future, let this declaration stand as my directive.

If I suffer from physical illness or impairment expected to cause me severe distress, rendering  me incapable of rational existence, from which there is no reasonable prospect of recovery,  I withhold my consent to be kept alive by artificial means and do not give my consent to any form of tube-feeding when I am dying; and I request that I receive whatever quantity of drugs and intravenous fluids as may be required to keep me comfortable and  free from pain  even if the moment of death is hastened. I withhold my consent to any attempt at resuscitation, should my heart and breathing stop and my prognosis is hopeless.

The living will tells the doctor and family that the patient does not consent to being kept alive artificially. It speaks for the patient at a time when the patient may be unable to communicate.

South African law and most religions accepts the validity of the living will, but none of the main religions accept euthanasia.

Euthanasia is against the law. Sean Davison, the respected UWC professor who helped his 85-year-old terminally ill mother, Patricia Ferguson, die in New Zealand by preparing a lethal dose of morphine, was arrested in New Zealand in September 2010 on an attempted murder charge.

It is important to have a properly drafted, legal living will to avoid far reaching and traumatic consequences for the loved ones that stay behind.

Many lawyers who practice in the area of estate planning include a living will and a health care power of attorney in their package of estate planning documents.

The advantages of a living will

  1. The directives respect the patient’s human rights, and in particular his or her right to reject medical treatment.
  2. It encourages full discussion about end-of-life decisions.
  3. It also means that the medical staff and caregivers are aware of the patient’s wishes, and knowing what the patient wants means that doctors are more likely to give appropriate treatment.
  4. It will avoid the situation where the patient’s family and friends have to take the difficult decisions.

Disadvantages of  a living will

  1.  Drafting this document  can  be very depressing.
  2. The person may still be healthy and not in a position to actually imagine that he or she could         ever be in the position where they would voluntarily give up living.
  3. When the time comes to act on the living will the patient might have changed his or her mind and it is then often difficult to amend the document.

Important points to consider

  1. The living will should not be incorporated or attached to the last will and testament, which is only acted upon after death.
  2. A living will does not become effective unless the patient becomes incapacitated; until then the patient will be able to choose appropriate treatment.
  3. A certificate by the patient’s doctor and another independent doctor certifying that the patient is either suffering from a terminal illness or permanently unconscious, is required before the living will becomes effective. In the case of a heart attack, the living will does not take effect. A living will is only executed when ultimate recovery is hopeless.
  4. You have to notify your doctor and family of your living will and preferably have copies of the document available for the doctor, hospital  and  family.

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.

Are restraint of trade agreements always valid and enforceable?

Historically restraint of trade agreements were void and unenforceable unless the employer could prove that it was a reasonable agreement entered into between the parties. Fortunately for employers the position in our law has changed.

What are restraint of trade agreements?
An agreement that seeks to restrict a party’s right to carry on a trade, business or profession in such manner or with such persons as he/she sees fit, is restraint of trade.

Restraint of trade clauses are most commonly found in employment and partnership contracts, which usually takes effect after termination of the contract, or in sale of a business or practice.

Why are they controversial?

They are controversial because there is a clash of fundamental values: on the one hand there is freedom or sanctity of contract which relies on agreements being honoured, and on the other hand there is freedom of trade which is a constitutionally recognised right.

As with other contracts, restraint of trade agreements are presumed to be prima facie valid and enforceable. Whereas the onus had earlier been on the employer to prove that implementation of restraint of trade was fair and in public interest, the onus is now on the employee to show why enforcement in the particular circumstances would be against the public interest.

An unreasonable restraint is contrary to the public interest and hence unenforceable. The reasonableness of a restraint of trade clause or agreement is judged on two bases: broad interests of community, and interests of the parties themselves.

Reasonableness inter partes depends on a variety of factors:

  • Does the employer have a protectable interest?
  • Area and duration of restraint (possibility of partial enforcement)
  • Concession by the employee in the contract that restraint is reasonable, and inequality of bargaining power of parties (these factors carry little weight)

Examples of protectable interests are confidential information, trade secrets, customer connections and lists, and goodwill of the business. However, it does not include interest in the elimination of competition, and the investment of time and capital in the training of the employee.

It is not sufficient simply to label confidential information as such. In order to be confidential the information must be commercially useful, in other words capable of application in trade or industry, have economic value to the person seeking to protect it, and be known only to a restricted number of people.

With regards to trade connections, it will only be relevant when the employee has close working relations with the customers, to such an extent that there is a danger of him/her taking them with him/her when he/she leaves the business. Relevant factors here include the following:

  • duties of the employee;
  • his/her personality;
  • frequency and duration of the contact with the customers;
  • his/her influence over them;
  • nature of his/her relationship with them (degree of attachment, extent of their reliance on him/her);
  • level of competition between the rival businesses;
  • type of product sold; and
  • evidence that customers were lost when he/she left the business.

With reference to the above the following questions must be asked:

  1. Does party A have an interest deserving of protection?
  2. Is such interest being prejudiced by party B?
  3. If so, how does A’s interest weigh up qualitatively and quantitatively against B’s interest in not being economically inactive and unproductive?
  4. Is there some broader facet of public policy that requires the enforcement or rejection of the restraint?

If restraint of trade agreement is reasonable inter partes, it may still be unenforceable if it is damaging to the public interest for a reason not peculiar to the parties.

Sources:
Basson v Chilwan & Others [1993] 3 SA 742
Sunshine Records (Pty) Ltd v Flohing & Others 1990 (4) SA 782 (A)
Magna Alloys & Research (SA) (Pty) Ltd v Ellis 1984 (4) SA 874 (A)

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.

Is ‘n handelsbeperkingsklousule altyd geldig en afdwingbaar?

In die verlede was handelsbeperkingsooreenkomste ongeldig en onafdwingbaar, tensy die werkgewer kon bewys dat die ooreenkoms billik is. Gelukkig vir werkgewers het hierdie situasie verander.

Wat is ‘n handelsbeperking?

‘n Ooreenkoms wat ‘n party se reg om te handel of ‘n besigheid of beroep te bedryf, beperk op sodanige manier of met sodanige partye as wat hy/sy goeddink, is ‘n handelsbeperking.

‘n Werkgewer sal tipies in die dienskontrak of ‘n aparte ooreenkoms ‘n handelsbeperkingsklousule insluit wat gewoonlik van krag word wanneer die kontrak getermineer of die besigheid of praktyk verkoop word.

Hoekom is hierdie tipe klousule omstrede?

Dit is omstrede omdat daar ‘n botsing van fundamentele waardes is: aan die een kant is daar ‘n algemene kontrakteursvryheid wat daarop staatmaak dat partye by hul kontrakte gehou moet word, en aan die ander kant is daar handelsvryheid wat ‘n erkende reg volgens die grondwet is.

Soos ander ooreenkomste is handelsbeperkings prima facie geldig en afdwingbaar. Voorheen het die werkgewer die bewyslas gehad om te bewys dat die implementering van die handelsbeperkingsklousule billik en in openbare belang is. Die situasie is nou omgekeerd en die werknemer het nou die bewyslas om te bewys dat afdwinging van die beperking teen openbare belang sal indruis.

‘n Onredelike beperking sal teen die openbare belang wees en dus onafdwingbaar. Die redelikheid van ‘n handelsbeperkingsklousule word beoordeel op die basis van breë belange van die gemeenskap en die belange van die individu self.

Redelikheid inter partes hang van verskeie faktore af:

  • Het die werkgewer ‘n beskermingswaardige belang?
  • Geografiese omvang en tydperk van die handelsbeperking (moontlikheid van gedeeltelike afdwinging)
  • Toegewing deur die werknemer in die kontrak dat die beperking redelik is, en ongelyke bedingingsvermoë van die verskillende partye (hierdie faktore dra min gewig)

Voorbeelde van beskermingswaardige belange is vertroulike inligting, handelsgeheime, kliëntverhoudings en -lyste, en die welwillendheid van die besigheid. Dit sluit egter nie planne om die kompetisie te elimineer en die belegging van tyd en kapitaal in die opleiding van die werknemer in nie.

Dit is nie genoeg dat vertroulike inligting net as sulks beskou word nie. Vir inligting om as vertroulik beskou te word, moet dit kommersieel nuttig wees, met ander woorde dit moet toegepas kan word in die industrie, ekonomiese waarde hê vir die persoon wat dit wil beskerm, en slegs bekend wees aan ‘n beperkte aantal persone.

Die bewys van handelsverbintenisse sal slegs relevant wees indien die werknemer toegang het tot die werkgewer se kliënte en sodanige verhouding met die werkgewer se kliënte het dat dit hom/haar in staat sou stel om so ‘n invloed oor hulle te hê dat die kliënte hom/haar sal volg indien hy/sy die diens van die werkgewer verlaat. Die volgende faktore is hier van belang:

  • die pligte van die werknemer;
  • die persoonlikheid van die werknemer;
  • die frekwensie en tydsduur van die werknemer se kontak met die kliënte;
  • sy/haar invloed or die kliënte;
  • aard van sy/haar verhouding met die klënte (mate van aanhang, omvang van hul vertroue in hom/haar);
  • vlak van kompetisie tussen die mededingende besighede;
  • die tipe produk wat verkoop word; en
  • bewyse dat kliënte verloor is as gevolg van die werknemer se vertrek.

Met verwysing tot die bogenoemde moet die volgende vrae gevra word:

  1. Is daar ‘n belang van party A wat waardig is om beskerm te word?
  2. Word daardie belang benadeel deur party B?
  3. Indien wel, weeg die belang van party A kwalitatief en kwantitatief meer teenoor die belang van party B, wat sal inhou dat daardie party ekonomies onaktief en onproduktief sal wees?
  4. Is daar enige openbare beleid wat vereis dat die handelsbeperking gehandhaaf of van die hand gewys word?

Al is die handelingsbeperkingsooreenkoms billik inter partes, mag dit nog steeds beslis word dat dit nie in openbare belang afgedwing moet word nie.

Bronnelys:
Basson v Chilwan & Others 1993 (3) SA 742 (A)
Sunshine Records (Pty) Ltd v Flohing & Others 1990 (4) SA 782 (A)
Magna Alloys & Research (SA) (Pty) Ltd v Ellis 1984 (4) SA 874 (A)

Hierdie artikel is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet nie gebruik of staatgemaak word op as professionele advies nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade wat voortspruit uit vertroue op enige inligting hierin nie. Kontak atyd jou finansiële adviseur vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.

Disclaimer notices

Disclaimer notices offer protection for owners and employees concerning shopping centres, stadiums, parking lots and other public areas. For these notices to be effective, certain requirements have to be adhered to. False reliance on these disclaimers can be a very expensive mistake. Find out whether your disclaimer notice will be sufficient to protect you and your employees.

Disclaimer notices are commonly seen in shopping centres, stadiums, parking lots and other public areas. These notices are generally aimed at protecting the owner or employees with regards to the area in question, by exempting him/her from legal liability when a member of public using the area suffers damage.

It is well established that disclaimer notices are enforceable when properly implemented. This is clear from the extract below:

Durban’s Water Wonderland (Pty) Ltd v Botha and Another (1999) 1 All SA 411 (A) at 115:

“If the language of a disclaimer or exemption clause is such that it exempts the proferens from liability in express and unambiguous terms effect must be given to that meaning. If there is ambiguity, the language must be construed against the proferens. (See Government of the Republic of South Africa v Fibre Spinners & Weavers (Pty) Ltd 1978 (2) SA 794 (A) at 804 C.)”

According to prevailing case law, when considering whether a disclaimer notice is effective, two factors have to be considered:

Firstly, from the Durban Water Wonderland case, it is evident that for the disclaimer’s content to be effective, the wording thereof must not be ambiguous. It is therefore required that the disclaimer must indicate in express terms what the person relying on the disclaimer is exempted from when someone reads the disclaimer. However, any alternative meaning of the disclaimer notice cannot be too widely interpreted. It is simply required that the meaning of the disclaimer is clear to anyone reading it. This test is implemented so that a vague statement cannot be regarded as sufficient to bind someone according to the legal principle of so called “quasi-mutual assent”, which is the underlying basis binding a person that reads a disclaimer notice.

Consider the following examples: “the owner of the property is hereby exempted” and “the owner, managing agent and any other employee is hereby exempted”. In the first example only the owner of the property is exempted from liability, while in the second example, employees of the owner and the managing agent of the property are included under the exemption clause. The first example would not have been sufficient if damage was caused to a person by the negligence of an employee, as employees were clearly not within the ambit of the notice. It is therefore important to ensure that the wording of a disclaimer is clear, unambiguous and is sufficient to protect all parties that need protection.

A further issue to take into account when the effectiveness of a disclaimer notice is considered is the question whether such disclaimer has been properly displayed. A disclaimer can only be effective when it is found that the disclaimer was displayed in an appropriate position, which would allow the reasonable person to have seen the disclaimer, or to ought to have seen the disclaimer. Practical issues, such as the size of the disclaimer, the distance from the viewer, the visibility, font and positioning of the disclaimer should be taken into account. This test is implemented as the content of the disclaimer can only fall within the knowledge of a person, when the notice is of such a nature that it is easily spotted by someone. When a disclaimer is affixed to a premise, it is therefore important that the above factors be taken into account.

It is clear that a disclaimer is an effective method of protection, especially when used in areas where large amounts of people visit frequently. However, the use of a disclaimer notice is a potentially risky practise, as it must be ensured that the wording and placement thereof is sufficient for the reliance thereon. It is recommended that an attorney be consulted before putting up such a notice.

Bibliography
Cases
Durban’s Water Wonderland (Pty) Ltd v Botha and Another (1999) 1 All SA 411 (A)
Government of the Republic of South Africa v Fibre Spinners & Weavers (Pty) Ltd 1978 (2) SA 794 (A)

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.

Vrywaringskennisgewings

Vrywaringskennisgewings bied beskerming aan eienaars en werknemers van winkelsentrums, stadions, parkeerareas en ander publieke areas. Alvorens hierdie  vrywaringskennisgewings effektief is, moet die kennisgewings aan bepaalde vereistes voldoen. Om verkeerdelik op hierdie vrywaringskennisgewings te steun, kan ʼn baie duur fout wees. Bepaal of die betrokke vrywaringskennisgewing voldoende is om jou en jou werknemers te beskerm.

Vrywaringskennisgewings word dikwels in winkelsentrums, stadions, parkeerareas en ander publieke areas gesien. Hierdie vrywaringskennisgewings word gebruik om die eienaar of werknemers van die tersaaklike area te beskerm, deur hom/haar vry te spreek van aanspreeklikheid, indien ʼn lid van die publiek van hierdie bepaalde area gebruik maak.

Vanuit regspraak blyk dit duidelik dat vrywaringskennisgewings wel afdwingbaar is, indien die kennisgewing op die korrekte wyse toegepas word. Die afdwingbaarheid van die vrywaringskennisgewings blyk duidelik vanuit die onderstaande uittreksel:

Durban’s Water Wonderland (Pty) Ltd v Botha and Another (168/97) [1998] ZASCA 115; [1999] 1 All SA 411 (A)

“If the language of a disclaimer or exemption clause is such that it exempts the proferens from liability in express and unambiguous terms effect must be given to that meaning. If there is ambiguity, the language must be construed against the proferens. (See Government of the Republic of South Africa v Fibre Spinners & Weavers (Pty) Ltd 1978 (2) SA 794 (A) at 804 C.)”

Volgens regspraak, moet twee belangrike faktore oorweeg word om te bepaal of ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing wel afdwingbaar is.

Eerstens, uit die Durban’s Water Wonderland-saak, is dit duidelik dat die betrokke  kennisgewing slegs effektief is, indien die bewoording van die kennisgewing nie dubbelsinnig is nie. ʼn Definitiewe vereiste is dus dat die kennisgewing duidelik en sonder enige dubbelsinnige bewoording uiteen gesit moet word. Die bewoording moet van so ’n aard wees dat die Verweerder gevrywaar word wanneer die publiek die kennisgewing lees. Dit moet egter bygevoeg word dat enige alternatiewe betekenis aan die kennisgewing nie te wyd geïnterpreteer moet word nie. Daar word dus bloot verreis dat die inhoud en betekenis van die kennisgewing duidelik is aan enigiemand wat dit lees. Hierdie toets word geïmplementeer sodat ʼn vae en dubbelsinnige stelling nie as voldoende beskou word om die publiek te bind volgens die sogenaamde “quasi mutual assent”-leerstuk nie. Hierdie leerstuk is die onderliggende regsbasis wat ʼn persoon bind aan die inhoud van ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing.

Die volgende voorbeelde van bewoording kan oorweeg word: “Die eienaar van die eiendom word hiermee gevrywaar” of “die eienaar, besturende agent en enige ander werknemer word hiermee gevrywaar” In die eerste voorbeeld word slegs die eienaar van die eiendom gevrywaar terwyl die tweede voorbeeld ook die besturende agent van ʼn eiendom asook enige werknemer vrywaar. Die eerste voorbeeld sou nie voldoende gewees het indien die skade aan ʼn lid van die publiek veroorsaak was deur die nalatigheid van ʼn werknemer nie, aangesien werknemers duidelik nie binne die bestek van die kennisgewing geval het nie. Dit is dus belangrik om te verseker dat die inhoud van ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing duidelik, verstaanbaar en voldoende is om alle partye te beskerm wat beskerming nodig het.

ʼn Verder kwessie wat ingedagte geneem moet word, wanneer die afdwingbaarheid van ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing oorweeg word, is die vraag of die kennisgewing duidelik sigbaar is. Die kennisgewing kan slegs afdwingbaar wees indien dit behoorlik vertoon is, sodat lede van die publiek dit gesien het of dit behoort te gesien het. Praktiese kwessies, soos die grootte van die kennisgewing, die afstand tot by die kennisgewing, die sigbaarheid daarvan, die lettergrootte en – tipe en die posisionering van die kennisgewing moet ook in ag geneem word. Hierdie toets word geïmplementeer aangesien die inhoud daarvan slegs binne die kennis van die lid van die publiek beskou kan word, indien die kennisgewing van so aard was dat die publiek dit maklik kon raaksien. Wanneer ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing dus gebruik word, moet die bogenoemde faktore in gedagte gehou word.

Dit is duidelik dat ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing ʼn effektiewe metode van beskerming kan wees, veral wanneer dit gebruik word in areas wat lede van die publiek dikwels besoek. Die gebruik van ʼn vrywaringskennisgewing is egter ʼn potensiële problematiese praktyk, aangesien daar verseker moet word dat die bewoording en plasing van die kennisgewing voldoende is om daarop te steun. Daar word aanbeveel dat ʼn prokureur die bewoording van die kennisgewing moet nagaan, voordat dit in gebruik geneem word.

Verwysingslys
Sake
Durban’s Water Wonderland (Pty) Ltd v Botha and Another (1999) 1 All SA 411 (A)
Government of the Republic of South Africa v Fibre Spinners & Weavers (Pty) Ltd 1978 (2) SA 794 (A)

Hierdie artikel is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet nie gebruik of staatgemaak word op as professionele advies nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade wat voortspruit uit vertroue op enige inligting hierin nie. Kontak atyd jou finansiële adviseur vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.

Wat beteken ʼn opskortende voorwaarde in ‘n kontrak?

Meeste mense wat ‘n eiendom gekoop het sou opgemerk  het dat die kontrak ‘n klousule bevat wat oor opskortende voorwaardes handel. Gewoonlik hou hierdie voorwaardes verband met deposito’s wat betaal moet word, finansiering wat verkry moet word of ‘n ander eiendom wat eers verkoop moet word voordat die huidige kontrak bevestig kan word. Die verduideliking hiervan klink eenvoudig genoeg – sodra daar aan al die vereiste voldoen is, is die kontrak geldig, in daar nie aan die vereiste voldoen word nie, dan is die kontrak ongeldig. Die vraag ontstaan egter of die proses werklik so eenvoudig is as wat dit klink. En wat is die gevolge indien jy nie aan die vereistes van die kontrak voldoen nie?

‘n Voorwaarde in ‘n kontrak kan in leketaal beskryf word as ‘n bepaling wat die verpligtinge van ‘n party, soos uiteengesit in die kontrak, uitstel tot en met die voorkoms van ʼn toekomstige onsekere gebeurtenis. Dit word gewoonlik ‘n opskortende voorwaarde genoem.

Volgens wet kan ‘n opskortende voorwaarde beskryf word as ‘n bepaling wat die werking of effek van een of sommige of al die verpligtinge in ʼn kontrak opskort tot tyd en wyl daar aan die voorwaarde voldoen is. As daar nie aan die voorwaarde voldoen word nie sal die kontrak nie bekragtig word nie. Sodra daar aan die voorwaarde voldoen is,  tree die kontrak en die gemeenskaplike regte en verpligtinge van die partye inwerking. Die datum waarop die kontrak in werking tree is dan vanaf die datum van die ondertekening van die ooreenkoms, en nie die datum van die vervulling van die voorwaarde nie.

Die Appèlhof het onlangs bevestig dat wanneer daar nie betyds aan die opskortende voorwaarde voldoen word nie, verval die kontrak en die partye word nie daardeur gebind deur dit, selfs al het een party hul voorwaarde ten volle uitgevoer.

In die saak van Africast (Edms) Beperk v Pangbourne Properties Beperk het die partye ‘n kontrak vir die ontwikkeling van kommersiële eiendom in ‘n gebied in Gauteng aangegaan. Een van die opskortende voorwaardes in die kontrak was dat Pangbourne se raad van direkteure die kontrak skriftelik binne sewe werksdae vanaf die sluitingsdatum moes goedkeur en aan Africast voorlê. Die kontrak is op 11 April 2007 onderteken en Pangbourne se direkteure het die kontrak op 20 April 2007 goedgekeur. Pangbourne het die skriftelike goedkeuring egter eers op 25 April 2007 aan Africast verskaf, wat dus na die vereiste sewe dae periode was. Pangbourne het na 18 maande besluit dat aangesien die opskortende voorwaarde nie nagekom is binne die vasgestelde tydperk nie, was hulle nie kontraktueel gebonde nie en het hulle dus geweier om die vereiste waarborge te lewer. Op daardie stadium het Africast reeds geboue opgerig, soos aangedui in die stipulasies van die ooreenkoms.

Die Hof het Pangbourne se siening bevestig, aangesien daar nie betyds aan die opskortende voorwaarde in die kontrak voldoen is nie, het geen kontrak tot stand gekom nie en die kontrak het verval weens nievoldoening aan die opskortende voorwaarde. Die Hof het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom ondanks die feit dat beide partye vir 18 maande in terme van stipulasies in die ooreenkoms opgetree het.

Opskortende voorwaardes word meestal in kontrakte aangetref wat betrekking het tot die verkoop van onroerende eiendomme, soos huise, woonstelle, plotte of plase. Die voorwaardes wat algemeen in die kontrakte te vinde is, is dat die verkoop van die eiendom onderhewig is daaraan dat die koper ‘n verband van ‘n finansiële instelling moet kry en/of dat die verkoop daaraan onderhewig is dat die koper sy bestaande eiendom binne ‘n vasgestelde tyd moet verkoop.

Dit is belangrik om in ag te neem dat opskortende voorwaardes gewoonlik in ‘n kontrak ingesluit word tot die voordeel van een van die betrokke party. In die bogenoemde scenario is die opskortende voorwaardes ingesluit vir die beskerming van die koper. Indien die koper nie daartoe in staat is om ‘n verband te verkry of sy bestaande eiendom binne die vereiste tyd te verkoop nie, is die kontrak nie meer van krag of effek en die koper sal nie gebonde wees aan die terme en voorwaardes van die kontrak nie. Wanneer daar nie aan die opskortende voorwaarde voldoen word nie, word die kontrak nietig verklaar en indien die partye steeds met die transaksie wil voort gaan moet ʼn ‘n nuwe kontrak aangegaan moet word.

Indien ‘n opskortende voorwaarde ingesluit is tot die voordeel van ‘n bepaalde party, kan daar voor die vasgestelde tyd vir die vervulling van die opskortende voorwaarde afstand gedoen word van die opskortende voorwaarde deur die party tot wie se voordeel die voorwaarde ingesluit is. Die kontrak is dan onvoorwaardelik en beide die koper en die verkoper sal kontraktueel gebind wees aan die bepalings van die kontrak.

Dit voordelig om versigtig te wees wanneer u ‘n kontrak wat onderworpe is aan ‘n opskortende voorwaarde aangaan. Wees bewus van die vasgestelde tyd vir die nakoming, tot wie se voordeel die voorwaardes bygevoeg is en die bewys wat gelewer moet word om te bevestig dat daar aan die vereistes voldoen is. Indien nodig, sorg dat u regsadvies inwin alvorens die kontrak onderteken word en maak gebruik van ʼn regsadviseur voordat u afstand doen van enige voorwaardes wat bygevoeg is tot u eie voordeel.

Hierdie artikel is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet nie gebruik of staatgemaak word op as professionele advies nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade wat voortspruit uit vertroue op enige inligting hierin nie. Kontak atyd jou finansiële adviseur vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.