Employer v Employee: Can You Use Evidence Obtained under Threat of Prosecution?

When we hear of employers and employees at loggerheads with each other in our court system, we normally think of labour disputes – strikes, disciplinary hearings, unfair dismissals and the like. But at times such disputes end up in our normal civil courts, dealing with issues which potentially apply to all civil claims.  An interesting SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) case Hohne v Super Store Mining (Pty) Ltd (831/2016) [2016] ZASCA 186; [2017] 1 All SA 681 (SCA); 2017 (3) SA 45 (SCA) provides a good example. An accused diamond thief sued for R6m A business which processes mine dumps…
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Child Maintenance in Arrears? The Contempt of Court Enforcement Option

Our law, in protecting the interests of children in particular, provides you with an array of options when it comes to enforcing payment of maintenance orders.  One of them is to ask the court to jail the defaulter for “contempt of court”. The idea of course is that the threat of a stint behind bars is likely to extract payment out of even the wiliest of maintenance dodgers. How does it work and what must you prove?  A High Court case Deenanath v Deenanath and Others (11852/2015) [2016] ZAKZDHC 44 illustrates - “Pay up or go to prison” – what you…
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Closing Down the Guesthouse Next Door: Notes for Owners and Neighbours

One day you decide – for whatever reason - that your neighbour’s new guesthouse is definitely not first prize in your sleepy and peaceful suburb, so you investigate. You find out that the local municipal zoning scheme doesn’t allow anyone to operate a guesthouse without a special departure permit, and that your neighbour doesn’t have the required permit. What are your rights and what must you prove to get assistance from our courts?  Must you prove, for example, that you have suffered some form of damage or is it enough to prove only the lack of a permit? A recent…
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Creditors and Debtors: Important New Prescription Judgment

Debts prescribe (become uncollectable) after a specified period of time in accordance with South African law - 3 years for most run-of-the-mill debts; but 30 years for others such as judgment debts, mortgage bond debts, property rates and tax debts. Various other periods apply to specific statutory debts and a few other exceptions – take advice if you need more detail. It’s important to know that the prescription period can be “delayed” in certain cases. In other words, delaying the prescription of a debt.  For example where the debtor is a minor or insane, or under curatorship, or out of…
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It’s Wedding Season! Here’s Why You Need an ANC (Whether You Marry Here or Overseas)

The Rand’s weakness notwithstanding, many couples still plan their dream weddings overseas.  Likewise, many couples living overseas come back to South Africa to marry.  If you are one of them, ask your lawyer before you get married for advice on which country’s laws will apply to your marriage. Why get advice? In South Africa, our default marital regime is marriage “in community of property”, and for many couples that is the worst option. You may well be better off opting rather for the “out of community” option (with or without “accrual”).  The point is to make an informed choice rather…
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Say a cracking goodbye to the wooden spoon

The South African Constitution provides an extensive Bill of Rights protecting the rights of all South Africans. Notwithstanding the fact that the values underlying the Constitution envisage a parent-child relationship as one excluding all forms of violence, South African parents have until recently been allowed to inflict physical harm on their children for disciplinary purposes. After the recent South Gauteng High Court judgment, this is no longer the position. Consequently, children’s underlying democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom are not allowed to be undermined. The judgment arose from an appeal by a father who had been found guilty…
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