Selling property? Watch your wording!

Selling property? Watch your wording!

Legal
When you agree on a sale, ensure that your agreement is both clear and comprehensive – or risk the pitfalls of litigation. A case recently before the High Court (on appeal from a District Magistrates Court) involved the sale of a furnished apartment, which the buyer intended to let out as holiday accommodation.  A clause in the sale agreement provided that all furniture and crockery in the apartment was included in the sale at a cost of R80,000, but no inventory of the movables was attached to the agreement. [ad name="goldschmidt inline post"] Subsequently the seller prepared an inventory, which the buyer signed under the impression that it listed the entire contents of the apartment at date of sale.  It didn’t – and the seller was found to have removed several items…
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Property Buyers: Don’t pay the Seller’s old rates without legal advice!

Legal
You buy your dream house but are shocked to learn that (a) the seller still owes the municipality for old rates and taxes and (b) you can’t get a new electricity account unless and until you settle all these arrears.  You point out how unfair it is that you are being asked to pay someone else’s debts, but the municipality won’t budge.  What can you do? Regular readers (see “Rates Clearance – a New Risk for Buyers?”) will remember the controversy over whether buyers might be exposed to this type of claim in respect of rates older than 2 years i.e. those not included in the municipal clearance certificate. (more…)
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Whistle-Blowing: a Facebook Foul Up

Legal
“Whistleblowing should be encouraged. Employees who risk occupational detriments by making bona fide and reasonable disclosures about irregularities at the workplace if their attempts to have the employer address such irregularities, fall on deaf ears, must be protected” (extract, Labour Court judgment below) Last month (see “Whistle(Blowing) While You Work”), we looked at the case of a mining engineer who was dismissed by his employers after he made public disclosures relating to the inadequacy of their pollution prevention measures.  The Court set aside his dismissal after finding that his disclosures were protected in terms of the Protected Disclosures Act (“PDA”). (more…)
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Damages for adultery – dead as a dodo?

Legal
“The Dodo suddenly called out 'The race is over!'”  (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland) Your spouse’s adulterous affair ruins your happy marriage – can you, as the “innocent” spouse, sue the “third party” for damages? Our law has for centuries recognised such damages claims for adultery, and these are usually based on – Insult or injury to your self-esteem (“Contumelia” in lawyer-speak), and/or “Loss of comfort and society” of your spouse (loss of “Consortium”). (more…)
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Attacking a Trust (and defending it)

Legal
"Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack” (Sun Tzu)   It’s an all-too-common scenario.  When you try to recover your money from a debtor, you find that all his/her assets (including the luxury home, holiday house and ocean-going yacht) are held by a family or business trust. (more…)
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Developers: Register or Regret

Legal
Residential property developers need to note the recent Constitutional Court judgment confirming that you must register with the NHBRC (National Home Builder's Registration Council) before you conclude a building contract or commence building – if you don’t (or if you register late) you cannot enforce payment.  In fact you commit a criminal offence just by accepting any payment. It is not enough that whichever building contractor/s you use to do the actual construction is/are registered – both you as developer and your contractor/s must be registered. (more…)
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