What Can You Do When Someone Close to You Has No Control Over Their Spending?

What Can You Do When Someone Close to You Has No Control Over Their Spending?

What can you do when someone you know (often but not always an elderly relative and/or someone with a gambling, drug or drink problem) starts squandering their money and property irresponsibly and recklessly? Note that we are talking here not about a mentally ill person but about someone “of sound mind but unsound habits”. The good news is that you don’t have to look on helplessly while they spend themselves (and their dependants if they have any) into destitution. Our law provides a remedy in the form of a High Court order declaring the person to be a “prodigal” and…
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Exemption Clauses and Thieving Employees: Can You Sue (or Be Sued)?

Exemption Clauses and Thieving Employees: Can You Sue (or Be Sued)?

Employee theft has been a headache for employers from the dawn of history, and no business should ignore the dangers it poses, particularly if your business handles third-party high value goods. Your chances of being sued if one of your employees steals a customer’s asset/s are high, the reason being of course the concept of “vicarious liability” – the legal rule that can make you generally liable for your employee’s actions. Your best defence (other naturally than taking steps to stop light-fingered employees from stealing in the first place!) is the “exemption” or “disclaimer” clause. It can present a formidable…
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Don’t Accidentally Disqualify Your Chosen Heirs from Inheriting!

Don’t Accidentally Disqualify Your Chosen Heirs from Inheriting!

Your will (“Last Will and Testament”) will always be the keystone of your estate planning, and a recent High Court decision sounds yet another warning to beware the “do your own will” concept. By not having his will drawn by a professional, a father inadvertently caused one of his children to be disqualified from inheriting her intended share, whilst her husband was disqualified from being appointed as executor. Who is disqualified from inheriting? Our law, in the form of the Wills Act, provides that no one (or their spouse) can receive “any benefit” under a will if – They signed…
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Property Owner and Body Corporate Liable After Child’s Electrocution?

Property Owner and Body Corporate Liable After Child’s Electrocution?

A recent High Court decision saw both a sectional title unit owner and his cupboard contractor held liable for damages suffered by an 11-year-old boy electrocuted by a communal tap. The complex’s body corporate and an electrician were also sued but escaped liability. The reasons given by the Court for these contrasting outcomes provide valuable lessons for property owners, contractors, and bodies corporate. Electrocuted when he turned on a tap You don’t expect to be electrocuted when you turn on a tap, but that is what happened to an unfortunate boy, aged 11, who had offered to wash his mother’s…
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Debtor Not Paying? Consider a Liquidation Application

Debtor Not Paying? Consider a Liquidation Application

Bad debt is a major issue for many businesses in these hard economic times – not taking robust steps to collect it could be fatal to your own financial position. So if you are being given the run-around by a recalcitrant corporate debtor, take advice on whether an appropriate and cost-effective remedy for you might be an application for the company’s liquidation (“winding-up”). Cynical misuse of the liquidation process as a debt collection tool or to avoid any genuine disputes over liability is likely to end badly for you (you risk a heavy costs order for “abuse of process”). Be…
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Fired For Moonlighting

Fired For Moonlighting

“Moonlighting” is the practice of employees boosting their monthly income with a “side-job” or “side-business”. It has been a feature of working relationships since the dawn of history, but now the pandemic lockdowns and the shift to the “gig economy” (where independent contractors and freelancers are paid for short-term assignments) have seen dramatic increases in the number of employees forced to supplement their incomes in this way. Some stats suggest that now almost half of all employees have a second source of income, and both they and their employers need to take note of a recent Labour Appeal Court decision…
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3 Steps to Buying Your First House

3 Steps to Buying Your First House

Few things in life can compare to the joy of finally crossing the threshold of your first home. If you are like most of us, you have been dreaming of this day for years and years – it has finally arrived! The financial bonus of course is that you have probably just made one of the most important investment decisions you will ever make. Here are some guidelines to help you make a wise decision on both counts - Step 1: What’s your price range? First step is to work out what price range you are looking at, and that’s…
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Why Life Partners Still Need Cohabitation Agreements and Wills

Why Life Partners Still Need Cohabitation Agreements and Wills

What happens if your life partner dies without leaving you anything in their will (“Last Will and Testament”)? Do you have the same protections as married spouses do? A lot of the media coverage around the recent Constitutional Court decision dealing with this question may have given the impression that life partners are now as fully protected as if they were in a formal marriage, but that is not so – not yet anyway. First, some background. Protections for surviving spouses only, not for unmarried life partners As a starting point, note that the widely-believed and persistent myth of a…
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How the Property Practitioners Act Affects You as a Property Seller, Buyer, Landlord or Tenant from 1 February

How the Property Practitioners Act Affects You as a Property Seller, Buyer, Landlord or Tenant from 1 February

The Property Practitioners Act (“PPA”) finally comes into effect on 1 February 2022. It has major ramifications for everyone involved in the property industry, but in this article we’ll concentrate only on aspects of particular importance to property sellers and buyers, and to landlords and tenants. The PPA’s full definition of “property practitioner” is long and complex with some grey areas still to be clarified, but for our purposes let’s just note that estate agents and agencies, property auctioneers, property managers, bond originators and the like all fall into the definition. We turn now to some of the more important…
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A Victim of Sexual Harassment Must Report It “Immediately”

A Victim of Sexual Harassment Must Report It “Immediately”

Employers have a strong duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and to protect them from harm – including sexual harassment. An employer who fails in this faces claims for damages and compensation, but as a recent Labour Court judgment shows, the victim must first follow procedure correctly, and without delay. Delayed reporting kills a claim A female employee claimed “a just and equitable compensation” from her employer after she was sexually harassed by two male superiors. Her claim failed, the Court finding that her delay in reporting the incidents to her employer (two years in one case…
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