Security Estates: Can You Fine Speedsters?

Legal
There are many advantages to buying in a security estate or other community scheme, including quality of life and increased potential for growth in your property’s value. As a buyer just be aware that you will almost certainly be binding yourself to a set of rules and regulations imposed by the Homeowners Association (HOA) or Sectional Title Body Corporate. Check that you are happy with them before you sign anything! Our courts have regularly confirmed the general principle that you are bound by what you agree to, and a recent high-profile Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decision of Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate Management Association II (RF) NPC v Singh & others (323/2018) [2019] ZASCA 30 provides an interesting example. HOAs and Bodies Corporate on the other hand will be particularly pleased with the outcome, the High Court…
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Accidentally Paid the Wrong Person? Lessons From a R862k Banking App Error

Legal
In these days of online banking and electronic payment, it’s not uncommon to find out to your horror that you have made a payment to someone in error, either to the wrong recipient or in an incorrect amount. If that happens to you and the recipient refuses to pay you back, what can you do about it? The other side of the coin of course is whether the recipient of an unexplained and unexpected bank account credit can safely go ahead and spend the windfall (the answer in a nutshell is very strong “no” – if there are indeed any free lunches in the world, this is unlikely to be one of them!). A recent High Court judgment of Firstrand Bank Limited v Khopo and Another (AR497/2018) [2019] ZAKZPHC 18 sets out the…
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Expats and Employers: Plan Now For the New Expat Tax Changes

Legal
This article is important to you if you are either a South African working abroad or an employer of one. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, but know someone who does, please think of passing this on. As an employee earning foreign remuneration (salary, leave pay, bonuses, allowances, commission etc), you currently enjoy an uncapped tax exemption (on that remuneration only, not on other foreign income) provided that you work overseas – For more than a total of 183 days during any 12 month period, and More than 60 of those days are consecutive. That however is set to change from 1 March 2020, when only the first R1m p.a. of your earnings will be exempt – you will pay tax on anything over that. With the Rand’s…
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Estate Agents: Securing Your Trade Secrets (and Your Commission)

Legal
As an estate agent you will know that without a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) you are not entitled to any commission for the successful sales or leases you put together. All your hard work in fulfilling your mandate will come to naught. Your client need pay you nothing. As a recent High Court case of Tria Real Estate (Pty) Ltd t/a Pam Golding Bloemfontein v Labuschagne and Another (5583/2018) [2018] ZAFSHC 198 warns, you will also be unable to enforce any restraints of trade you enter into with your employees. And that’s a major risk if your trade secrets are as valuable to you as they are to most agencies. The company that converted from a CC without changing its FFC A close corporation (CC) trading as an estate agency held an…
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Your Dog, Cat or Cow (Even Your Bees) Could Cost You Millions

Legal
Our law will generally hold you liable for damages only if someone else can prove that you caused them loss/damage/injury through your “fault” (intent or negligence). That seems fair and logical – if it’s your fault, you pay. If however the loss was caused by your animal/s, you are in a much more dangerous position – you can be sued on a “no fault” or “strict liability” basis – and that’s a sobering prospect. It means that bad behaviour by Maxie the Mongrel, Skollie the Cat, Daisy the Cow, or even (per an old 1926 case) your “domesticated” swarm of bees, could leave you with a bill for millions without your being in any way careless or at fault. Ignorance of that risk is very definitely dangerous rather than bliss. A…
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Small Claims Courts – From 1 April You Can Sue For Up To R20,000

Legal
The monetary jurisdiction of Small Claims Courts has been increased from R15,000 to R20,000 from 1 April 2019. Not all claims can be pursued in a Small Claims Court – Claims over R20,000 must be pursued in the ordinary courts (you can if you like reduce a larger claim to the R20k to avoid having to do that). Only individuals can sue in a Small Claims Court, i.e. not companies, close corporations etc. The State and local authorities can only be sued in the ordinary courts. Other than those exclusions, you can sue anyone including companies and the like. Certain types of claim (such as divorce matters, some damages claims, interdicts, will disputes etc) must also go to the ordinary courts. Even if your claim qualifies for the Small Claims…
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Losing Your Licence with AARTO Demerits: More Danger than You Thought, and The Wheels are Turning

Legal
Government has “cried wolf” on the AARTO demerit system so many times now that many of us have lost sight of just how seriously it will affect us when it finally comes into force. Now the wheels of implementation are turning – fast. It’s time to prepare! The fact is that every motorist, every vehicle owner, every professional driver, every transport operator, indeed every employer, will be at risk. We discuss what demerit points are, how they are allocated and reduced, how and when your driver’s licence is at risk. AARTO (the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act) has been partially in force for years, but its demerit provisions have been on ice for so long now that many of us have lost sight of just how seriously it will…
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Neighbours Building? Know Your Rights Re Plan Approval

Legal
Disputes with neighbours take many forms, and they can quickly escalate into costly and expensive litigation. So nipping them in the bud will always be first prize, and when it comes to fights over construction activity – whether it be a whole new building or additions/alterations – a good place to start is with municipal approval of building plans. Without such approval, construction cannot as a general rule proceed. Imagine that your neighbours apply to the municipality for approval of building plans. You object strongly – if allowed, you say, the new building/addition/alteration will seriously impact on your property’s appeal and value. It will be unsightly and objectionable. It will ruin the neighbourhood. How must the municipality’s “decision makers” assess the plans in light of your concerns? A long-running legal…
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Traffic Fines and Admissions of Guilt – Will They Earn You a Criminal Record?

Legal
We live our lives beset by so many laws and regulations that even the most law-abiding of citizens will sooner or later be accused of some petty offence or other and then faced with the question “Do I fight this in court or do I just pay the fine and get on with it?” Tread carefully here – paying a fine and getting it over and done with is one thing – burdening yourself with a criminal record for life is an entirely different kettle of fish. We discuss the expungement option, when you are at risk of acquiring a criminal record and when you aren’t, and the story of the grass seller who turned to the High Court for help after his admission of guilt fine came back to…
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Trustees at War: The Removal Remedy and Its Limits

Legal
What happens when a trust’s trustees fall out and go to war with each other? If a polite request to the minority trustee to resign bears no fruit, can the majority forcibly remove him or her? And if so, must they have good reason to do so? The first question of course is what the founding trust deed provides for such a situation, but a recent High Court decision lays additional ground rules for trustees that anyone involved in a trust (in any capacity) should know about. The case saw a mother facing off against three professionals (two auditors and an attorney) and the latter’s attempt to replace the mother with another trustee ran into troubled waters. The case When family infighting impacts a family trust, an early casualty is…
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