Editorial: Issue 3

Intro-picWelcome to another edition of our monthly newsletter.

CELEBRATING DEMOCRACY
On 18 July 2016 Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela would have turned 97 years old. De Klerk & van Gend will be celebrating Madiba Day by providing the Haven night shelters of Bellville, Cape Town, and Claremont with non-perishable food packages, collected and packed by our staff.

Although not quite as old, De Klerk & van Gend turned 94 years old this year! We fully embrace our new democratic dispensation and are concerned by recent threats to the independence of our judiciary. We are, however, mindful of the protection that our country’s constitution affords to judicial independence.

ARCHIVES
Our conveyancing department recently visited the Western Cape Provincial Archives in Roeland Street, Cape Town.  The  Archives and Records Service collects, manages and preserves records that form part of our archival heritage dating from 1651 when the first colonial settlement by the Dutch was established. We were shown volumes of archived Transfer Duty receipts, (see picture). Currently our conveyancing department obtains Transfer Duty receipts electronically and bound records are something of the past.

Regrettably, old property records, such as Title Deeds, are not kept in the Archives. They are kept by the Deeds Office, but not under archival conditions. The records are important, not only because they provide a record of our heritage, but also because they contain applicable conditions of title that are fundamental to property rights. Important records are in danger of being damaged or lost. We feel that the old records should be transferrd for safekeeping to the Archives and will be motivating for this to happen.

EID
We wish our Muslim clients, staff and colleagues a blessed Eid…..

CJ
We welcome CJ Grey to our firm. He has joined our Bellville branch’s litigation department as an associate.

We hope you will enjoy the rest of the newsletter and welcome your feedback.

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.

Rescission of judgement

Imagine receiving the nasty surprise that default judgement has been entered against your name because of a summons that you have never even received. It is necessary that you know the procedure of how to rescind a default judgement to get you out of this unwanted situation.

Many people are confronted with the unfortunate situation of a judgement being entered against their name, without even being aware that legal action is being taken against them. The reason for this is that when a party fails to deliver a notice of intention to defend a summons, a Plaintiff is entitled to lodge an application for default judgment.[1]

The reason for many Defendants not filing a notice of intention to defend, is the fact that they simply never receive the summons initiating an action against them. Personal service of documents by the Sheriff is only required where the matter affects a person’s personal status, such as with divorces and sequestrations. As it is not a requirement for the Sheriff personally, to serve a summons on a person, it can lead to situations where the Defendant never sees the summons, although the Sheriff stated that the summons has been legitimately served.[2] An example hereof many people who indicate their domicilium citandi et executandi or nominated address where notices are sent, in an agreement. In the event of the Defendant moving, the Sheriff will still deliver the summons to this address, but the Defendant will never receive it.

In the event of a Defendant not receiving a summons, certain steps have to be taken to have the judgment rescinded. The Defendant has to serve and file his application for rescission of judgment within 20 days after becoming aware of the judgment that was entered against him.[3] The Defendant (now the Applicant) is required to set out in an affidavit why the matter was not defended and what the bona fide defence is to the claim.  The onus is upon the Applicant to set out legitimate reasons for why the matter was not defended.[4]

When bringing an application for the rescission of judgement before court, the following principles are applicable:[5]

The Applicant must give a reasonable explanation for his default. The court will be unwilling to help the Applicant if it is found that he was aware of the proceedings against him or if the default was simply due to his own negligence. If the Applicant’s default is of a wilful or negligent nature, these will serve as considerations that the court will take into account when deciding whether an application should be granted.

In many cases an Applicant simply rescinds a default judgement to delay the inevitable. It is therefore necessary for the Applicant to show that he is not simply delaying the Plaintiff’s claim. A bona fide defence, in other word a genuine defence, must therefore be shown, although it is not required to deal fully with the merits thereof or produce any evidence in this regard.

Ultimately, the court has discretion whether to rescind the default judgment or not, based on whether good cause was shown by the Applicant.[6]

Although it involves an unwanted and often lengthy and expensive process, it is important to have any judgments against your name rescinded as soon as possible, as they have a negative impact on your credit rating. These judgements, if executed, will also leave you highly annoyed when the Sheriff shows up on your doorstep with a warrant of execution to seize your personal belongings.

[1] Magistrates Court, Rules of Court, Rule 12(1)(c)

[2] Magistrates Court, Rules of Court, Rule 9(3)

[3] Magistrates Court, Rules of Court, Rule 49(1)

[4] Du Plessis v Tager 1953 (2) SA 5 (O)

[5] Grant v Plumbers (Pty) Ltd 1949 (2) SA 470 (O)

[6] De Witts Auto Body Repairs v Fedgen Insurance Co Ltd 1994 (4) SA 705

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.

Tersydestelling van vonnis

Stel jouself voor, die onaangename verrassing as jy onverwags ʼn vonnis by verstek ontvang, as gevolg van ʼn dagvaardiging wat jy nooit ontvang het nie. Dit is belangrik dat jy bewus is van die prosedures wat gevolg moet word om so ʼn vonnis teen jou ter syde te laat stel.

Dit gebeur gereeld dat individue hulself in die ongewenste situasie bevind dat ʼn vonnis by verstek, sonder hul medewete, teen hulle aangeteken word. Die voorafgenoemde wanneer ʼn party versuim om die kennisgewing van voorneme om te verdediging te liasseer, dit gee dan aanleiding daartoe dat die Eiser daarop geregtig is om aansoek te doen vir vonnis by verstek.[1]

Die rede waarom sommige Aangeklaagdes versuim om die kennisgewing van voorneme om te verdedig te liasseer, is as gevolg van die feit dat hulle nooit die dagvaardiging ontvang het nie. Die betekening van prosesstukke is slegs ʼn vereiste in gevalle waar die aangeleentheid ʼn persoon se persoonlike status beïnvloed, soos in die geval van egskeidings en sekwestrasies. Aangesien dit is nie ʼn vereiste is dat die Balju persoonlik ʼn dagvaardiging aan die Aangeklaagde moet beteken nie, kan situasies ontstaan waar die Aangeklaagde nooit die dagvaardiging gesien, of ontvang, het nie, ten spyte daarvan dat die Balju dit wel op die aangewese en voorgeskrewe wyse beteken het.[2]

Die bogenoemde vind byvoorbeeld plaas wanneer die sogenaamde domicilium citandi et executandi (ʼn adres wat deur die Aangeklaagde aangedui word as die adres waarna pleitstukke gestuur moet word) nie meer die korrekte adres is nie. Indien die nuwe adres nie aangeteken is nie, sal die Balju steeds die dagvaardiging na die eerste (en dus verkeerde) adres stuur om te beteken.

Indien ʼn verstek van vonnis teen ʼn Aangeklaagde aangeteken word, moet sekere stappe geneem word om die vonnis ter syde te laat stel. Volgens die Landdroshofreëls, moet die Aangeklaagde binne 20 dae nadat hy bewus geword het van die vonnis, kennis gee van sy aansoek van tersydestelling.[3] Daar word van die Aangeklaagde (wat nou as die Applikant bekend staan) vereis om in ʼn beëdigde verklaring te verduidelik waarom die saak nie verdedig was nie en wat sy verdediging tot die eis is. Die bewyslas berus op die Applikant om geldige redes te verskaf vir waarom die aksie nie verdedig was nie.[4]

Wanneer ʼn aansoek vir die tersydestelling van vonnis gebring word, geld die volgende beginsels:[5]

Die Applikant moet ʼn redelike verduideliking gee vir sy versuim om die saak te verdedig. Die hof nie bereid om te help, indien daar gevind word dat die Applikant bewus was van die aksie teen hom en dat sy eie nalatigheid daartoe gelei het dat hy nie die saak verdedig het nie. Opsetlike verstek of nalatigheid aan die kant van die Aangeklaagde sal as bepalende faktore deur die hof oorweeg word wanneer daar besluit word of vonnis wel ter syde gestel moet word.

In baie gevalle doen ʼn Applikant bloot aansoek vir tersydestelling van vonnis om die onvermydelike uit te stel. Die Applikant moet bewys dat hy nie bloot die Eiser se saak probeer vertraag nie. Daar word dus van die Applikant verreis om ʼn bona fide verdediging, of te wel ʼn werklike verdediging, aan te voer, alhoewel dit nie nodig is vir die Applikant om die meriete van die verdediging te bewys of enige getuienis hieroor te lewer nie.

Die hof beskik oor die diskresie om te bepaal of die vonnis wel ter syde gestel kan word, na gelang van die rede wat deur die Applikant aangevoer is tydens die aansoek.[6]

Alhoewel hierdie proses dikwels lank en duur is, is die van uiterse beland om enige ongeregverdigde vonnisse teen jou naam ter syde te stel, sodra jy daarvan bewus word. Hierdie vonnisse het ʼn negatiewe impak op jou krediet rekord. Indien die balju onverwags met ʼn lasbrief by jou opdaag om op jou persoonlike bates beslag te lê, kan dit ook aanleiding gee tot emosionele ontwrigting en verlies aan aansien.

[1] Landroshofrëels, Reël 12(1)(c)

[2] Landroshofrëels, Reël 9(3)

[3] Landroshofrëels, Reël 49(1)

[4] Du Plessis v Tager 1953 (2) SA 5 (O)

[5] Grant v Plumbers (Pty) Ltd 1949 (2) SA 470 (O)

[6] De Witts Auto Body Repairs v Fedgen Insurance Co Ltd 1994 (4) SA 705

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.

Is it beneficial to create a trust?

A Trust can be described as a legal relationship which has been created by the founder, who places assets under the control of Trustees. This either happens during the founder’s lifetime (inter vivos trust) or at the death of the founder (testamentary trust). This article will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of an inter vivos trust.

The advantage of a trust is firstly, that inter vivos trusts can be used to minimise estate duty. No estate duty should be payable on assets owned by the Trust as a Trust does not terminate or come to an end, since it has perpetual succession. Estate duty is currently taxed at 20% of the gross estate value. This saving in estate duty can be substantially large, especially for high net worth individuals who are worth millions of rands. Secondly, as the Trust’s assets are not owned by the beneficiaries, the creditors of the beneficiaries do not have a claim regarding the assets of the Trust. This advantage is especially important for people who are exposed to potential liability. Companies as well as individuals are able to transfer assets to Trusts. Lastly, because Trusts have perpetual succession, beneficiaries will be able to continue enjoying the benefit of the Trust assets even if one of the Trustees were to pass away.

The disadvantages are firstly, the costs of setting up a Trust, which can be high. It may cost up to R 20 000 to set up a Trust. If immovable property is transferred to the Trust then transfer duty needs to be paid. The founders of the Trust may also be liable to pay Donations tax, which is taxable at 20% of the value of the assets transferred to the Trust. Transfer duty is taxed according to a sliding scale. Secondly, Trustees could find themselves personally liable for losses suffered by the Trust if it can be proven that they did not act with care, diligence and skill in terms of section 9 of the Trust Property Control Act. It is important to note that “skill” requires more than just acting in good faith. Trustees may be proven to be negligent not only if they invested in risky investments, but also if they invested capital too conservatively, causing the capital not to grow sufficiently. Trustees also need to be aware of the fact that they can still be held liable if only one Trustee has signing power on behalf of the Trust and he/she makes a poor decision that holds all the Trustees liable for his negligence.

The founder of the Trust needs to recognise that the assets in the Trust do not belong to him/her anymore. The assets belong to the Trust. Should this loss of control (from founder to Trust) not occur, the Trust may be seen as an alter ego of the founder, which could result in the assets being included in creditors’ claims as well as having estate duty consequences.

The earnings from the assets in the Trust are taxed at 40%, and interest exemptions do not apply to Trusts. Also, the inclusion rate for Capital Gains tax for an inter vivos trust is 66.6% whereas the inclusion rate for individuals is 33.3%. Lastly, as we can see from the above, a Trust is not for everyone.

It is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to go ahead or not. The best decision would be to speak to a certified financial planner or attorney who can assist you in making the correct decision regarding your personal situation.

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 dit voordelig om ‘n trust te stig?

Die Trust kan beskryf word as ‘n regsverhouding wat ontstaan waarby die stigter bates onder die beheer van Trustees plaas. Dit gebeur óf in die stigter se leeftyd (inter vivos trust), óf by die stigter se dood (testamentêre trust). Hierdie artikel gaan fokus op die voordele en nadele van die inter vivos trust.

Die voordele van ‘n Trust is eerstens om boedelbelasting te verminder. ‘n Inter vivos trust kan gebruik word om boedelbelasting te verminder. Geen boedelbelasting is betaalbaar op bates wat deur die Trust gehou word nie, aangesien ‘n Trust nie sterf nie. Boedelbelasting is huidiglik belasbaar teen 20% van die bruto waarde van die boedel. Die boedelbelasting besparing kan aansienlik wees vir ‘n persoon met ‘n groot netto waarde, wat miljoene rande werd kan wees. Tweedens kan ‘n Trust gebruik word om beskerming te geniet teen die begunstigdes se krediteure, aangesien die bates nie die eiendom van die begunstigdes is nie en krediteure dus nie ‘n eis teen die bates van die Trust kan instel nie. Hierdie voordeel is veral belangrik vir mense wat blootgestel is aan persoonlike aanspreeklikheid. Maatskappye en persone kan bates na ‘n Trust oordra. Derdens, as gevolg van die feit dat ‘n Trust nooit sterf nie, sal die begunstigdes steeds die voordeel van die trustbate geniet, selfs al sterf een van die Trustees.

Die nadele van ‘n Trust is eerstens die kostes om ‘n Trust te stig en op te rig, wat baie hoog kan wees, selfs soveel as R20 000. As onroerende bates na ‘n Trust oorgedra word, sal hereregte ook betaalbaar wees. Die stigters van die Trust kan ook verantwoordelik wees vir Skenkingsbelasting, wat huidiglik belasbaar is teen 20% van die waarde van die bates oorgedra aan die Trust. Hereregte is belasbaar volgens ‘n glyskaal. Tweedens kan Trustees persoonlik aanspreeklik gehou word vir finansiële verliese wat deur die Trust gely word as daar bevind word dat hulle nie met die nodige sorg, toewyding en vaardigheid opgetree het in terme van Artikel 9 van die Wet op Beheer van Trustgoedere nie. Dit is belangrik om daarop te let dat “vaardigheid” meer vereis as net goeie trou. Trustees se handelinge mag dalk as nalatig beskou word indien hulle hoë-risiko beleggings aangaan, maar ook as hulle beleggings aangaan wat te konserwatief is en wat veroorsaak dat die kapitaal nie teen ‘n goeie rentekoers groei nie. Trustees moet ook bewus wees daarvan dat hulle aanspreeklik gehou kan word, selfs al is daar net een Trustee met tekenmagte, aangesien ‘n swak keuse deur hierdie persoon alle Trustees aanspreeklik vir nalatigheid sal maak.

Die stigter van die Trust moet besef dat die bates in die Trust nie langer aan hom/haar  behoort nie, maar aan die Trust. Indien hierdie verlies van beheer (van stigter na Trust) nie plaasvind nie, kan die Trust  as ‘n alter ego van die stigter gesien word, wat beteken dat hierdie bates wel in krediteure se eise ingesluit kan word en boedelbelasting gevolglik van toepassing kan wees.

Die verdienste uit bates in die Trust word teen 40% belas, en baie min vrystellings is van toepassing op Trusts. Die huidige koers vir Kapitaalwinsbelasting vir ‘n inter vivos trust is 66.6% terwyl die koers vir individue 33.3% is. Laastens is dit duidelik dat ‘n Trust nie ‘n geskikte keuse vir almal is nie.

Dit is belangrik om die voordele en nadele te oorweeg voordat ‘n besluit gemaak word om ‘n Trust te stig. Die beste besluit sou wees om met ‘n gesertifiseerde finansiële beplanner of prokureur te praat, wat kan help om die regte besluit met betrekking tot die spesifieke situasie te maak.

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.

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.

Co-ownership of land

The word “co-ownership” in relation to land means that two or more persons own land simultaneously in undivided shares. A share in land does not represent, and may not be held to represent a defined portion of land. A co-owner who holds a share in land does not hold title to a defined piece of land even if by arrangement with his co-owners they might have agreed to give him occupation of a specific portion of land. The title he has is to an undivided share only, in the whole of the land, held in joint ownership. The portion he occupies is owned jointly by him and his co-owners in the whole thereof. If he should build a house on the portion he occupies, the house will be owned jointly.

When X, Y and Z are co-owners of a farm, they are not each entitled to a physical part of the farm but each of them has an undivided share in the whole of the farm. The shares will not always be equal. One person can have half a share while the other two can each have a twenty five percent share. However, co-ownership unfortunately often leads to disputes among the owners.

Co-operation between the co-owners

It is advisable that co-owners enter into an agreement which regulates the relationship between them. Unfortunately this agreement will have no bearing against third parties. The consent of all the co-owners is required when administrative decisions have to be made. No owner is entitled to change or improve the property without the consent of the other owners. All the owners have to agree to the use of the property, e.g. they have to agree to the chopping down of trees, the erection of a storage facility/building, or to let cattle graze in the field. If co-owners are not consulted they may request an interdict from the court. The court may even order that buildings that have been erected, be removed. However, in instances where the aim is to preserve the property, it is not always necessary to obtain the consent of the co-owners.

The profits and losses

All the co-owners must contribute proportionally to necessary and also useful expenses for the preservation of the property. Such expenses include taxes and expenses to maintain the property in good condition, but do not include luxury expenses. Losses and charges must be shared by the co-owners, except those attributable to negligence of one of the owners. As with expenses, fruits and profits must be divided amongst the co-owners according to each owner’s shareholding.

Alienation of a share

A co-owner may alienate his share or even bequeath it to his heirs, without the consent of the other owners, even against their will. A co-owner’s share may also be attached by the sheriff.

Use of the property

Each co-owner may use the property in accordance with his undivided share. He must, however, use it with due regard to the rights of the other co-owners. Each co-owner, his employees and guests are entitled to free entry to any part of the property, except if the co-owners have agreed that a portion of the property is reserved for the exclusive use of one co-owner.

Partition

Co-owners may decide to partition the property, usually if they cannot agree on the utilisation of the property. The property will then be divided physically in accordance with the value of the property and each owner’s share in it. When this is uneconomic, which is usually the case with a farm, the property can be awarded to one co-owner, but he must then compensate the other co-owners. The court may also order that the property be sold by public auction and the proceeds divided amongst the co-owners. There is strict statutory control over the subdivision of land and also the actual physical division and use of land, so that partition may not always be possible.

Co-ownership is an excellent vehicle to becoming an owner of a property that one otherwise might not be able to afford. However, be aware of the pitfalls, choose your co-owners wisely, and draw up an agreement to regulate payment of the bond and rates, the day-to-day expenses and house rules.

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 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.