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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Divorce: Claiming Interim Maintenance and a Contribution to Legal Costs

Divorce: Claiming Interim Maintenance and a Contribution to Legal Costs

Even if your marriage is collapsing around you, you might be afraid to sue for divorce because you have no money to survive on, plus you know that a hotly contested divorce might take years to finalise while your breadwinner spouse fights you tooth and nail every step of the way. How will you support yourself and your children until the case is finalised? How will you pay your lawyer to run the case for you? Must you wait for the end of the case before you see a cent? The answer luckily is “no” in that you have a…
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Directors at War: Terminating Email Access

Directors at War: Terminating Email Access

When company directors are locked in dispute, one of them may be tempted to cut off the other’s access to emails and to the business server – a tactic likely to have immediate and serious consequences for the director thus cut off. Its appeal as a tactic to force the other director to the negotiating table is obvious, but the question is whether the director thus deprived has any legal remedy available to force immediate restoration of access. A recent Supreme Court of Appeal matter of Blendrite (Pty) Ltd and Another v Moonisami and Another (227/2020) [2021] ZASCA 77 saw…
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Can Your Tenant Claim a Lockdown Rental Remission?

Can Your Tenant Claim a Lockdown Rental Remission?

The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns and restrictions have impacted negatively on many businesses, and there has been much uncertainty as to whether commercial tenants of leased property are entitled to claim a remission of rental if their trading activities are curtailed. A recent High Court decision of Trustees for the time being of the Bymyam Trust v Butcher Shop and Grill CC (11877/2020) [2021] ZAWCHC 240 throws some light on this knotty question, and with the pandemic showing no signs of letting up, all commercial landlords and their tenants should be aware of it. The steakhouse closed by…
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When Can a Shop Be Sued for Damages If a Customer Falls?

When Can a Shop Be Sued for Damages If a Customer Falls?

The Festive Season is once more upon us, cueing shops, shopping centres and malls packed with ever-growing crowds of shoppers. What happens if you fall while shopping and hurt yourself? Our law reports are full of cases where shops are sued for damages following “slips” and “trips”, and a recent High Court case of Holtzhausen v Cenprop Real Estate (Pty) Ltd and Another (A116/20) [2021] ZAWCHC 39; [2021] 2 All SA 457 (WCC); 2021 (4) SA 221 (WCC) confirms once again that as a general rule shops and malls are liable to keep their visitors from harm. A broken elbow…
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Selling Your Home: How to be Lucky this Holiday Season

Selling Your Home: How to be Lucky this Holiday Season

History has not recorded whether Seneca himself was “lucky” in the property market of his time (Rome’s land registration records from two millennia ago have unfortunately not survived the ravages of time and Imperial collapse) but his wise words are as true today as they were then. The two key elements of a “lucky” sale To be “lucky” in finding the right buyer at the right price you need two key elements – Opportunity: Our Holiday Season is always a prime time to find the perfect buyer, and with our current low interest rates and reports of house prices soaring…
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Unmarried Parents: A New ‘Notice of Birth’ Ruling for Fathers, with 3 Surname Choices

Unmarried Parents: A New ‘Notice of Birth’ Ruling for Fathers, with 3 Surname Choices

New parents, married or not, are obliged by the Births and Deaths Registration Act (“the Act”) to register their child’s birth with Home Affairs within 30 days. However in regard to the actual process of giving this “notice of birth”, the Act has always distinguished between married and unmarried parents. In particular, unmarried fathers have until now been unable to register the child under their own surname except with the mother’s permission. Given the importance - to the child, to the parents and to their wider families – of what surname is entered into the population register, it is perhaps…
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Exemption Clauses in Contracts – Fine Print Can Void Them

Exemption Clauses in Contracts – Fine Print Can Void Them

For suppliers of goods or services, incorporating a strong, clearly worded exemption clause (a clause excluding or restricting your liability to the customer) into your contracts is an essential part of risk management. Just be aware of the restrictions that our laws place on them. As a recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment shows, your first hurdle in enforcing a disputed exemption clause could be to convince a court that the consumer did in fact contract on the basis of that condition – “In fine print” and “not conspicuously legible” – so not part of the contract A shipping…
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Fired for a Racist Facebook Post

Fired for a Racist Facebook Post

“The seriousness and gravity of offences involving racism and racial hatred cannot be over-emphasised. Employers are under a duty to provide a safe working environment and to protect all employees from harm, whether physical or emotional, whether they are black or white. An employer can be held liable for failure to take any action against its employees who are guilty of such conduct. South Africa is a country plagued by a history of racism and violence and social media plays a significant role in the incitement of racial hatred and violence. The power of such posts on social media inciting…
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