Property Buyers: Don’t pay the Seller’s old rates without legal advice!

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.…
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Whistle-Blowing: a Facebook Foul Up

“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”).…
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Damages for adultery – dead as a dodo?

“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)

"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

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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Reading (in) between the lines: winding up close corporations

Prior to the enactment of the Companies Act (71 of 2008) (the new Act), the winding up of close corporations and companies was regulated by the Close Corporations Act, (69 of 1984) (the CC Act) and the Companies Act (61 of 1973) (the old Act) respectively. Section 68 of the CC Act provided the grounds upon which a court could liquidate a close corporation. Section 68(c), in particular, stated that a close corporation could be wound up by a court if the corporation was “unable to pay its debts”. In terms of s 69, a close corporation would be deemed…
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Property sellers – choose your own attorney!

Property sellers – choose your own attorney!

When you come to sell your house or other property, you have the right to nominate your own attorney to attend to the conveyancing for you. Insist on doing so – It is essential that your rights be protected at all stages of the transfer; choose a conveyancer you can trust to do so with speed and integrity. It is irrelevant that the buyer normally pays the conveyancer (as part of the transfer costs). You carry more risk than the buyer, and there is nothing to stop the buyer from employing his/her own attorney to monitor the transfer on their…
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Bad Neighbours, Unlawful Building, and the Demolition Remedy

Bad Neighbours, Unlawful Building, and the Demolition Remedy

“A bad neighbour is as great a calamity as a good one is a great advantage” (Hesiod, 700 BC) Bad neighbours have it seems been troubling us since at least the days of ancient Greece. If two and a half thousand years later you are unlucky enough to have one, and if the particular calamity visited upon you by said neighbour (loss of a sea view perhaps) results from his/her unlawful building operations, take heart. Our law has a strong and effective remedy for you – a demolition order.... [ad name="goldschmidt inline post"] Source: Ashersons Attorneys >> Bad Neighbours ...
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It’s wedding season, but before you tie the knot….

It’s wedding season, but before you tie the knot….

“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards” (Benjamin Franklin) Whether or not you elect to follow the second part of Ben Franklin’s advice, be sure to follow the first – keep your eyes wide open when choosing which “marital regime” will apply to your marriage. [ad name="goldschmidt inline post"] To ANC or not to ANC?  That is the question -- Do you or don’t you need an ANC (“antenuptial contract”)? Firstly, it’s not an admission that you may divorce, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking “we don’t want to even think about divorce so no ANC for us…
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