April 24, 2024

In the Land of the Will, Clarity is King

“The golden rule for the interpretation of testaments is to ascertain the wishes of the testator from the language used. And when these wishes are ascertained, the court is bound to give effect to them, unless we are prevented by some rule or law from doing so.” (Quoted in the judgment below)

When drawing up your will (“Last Will and Testament”), remember that “clarity is king”. Ambiguity is one of the cardinal sins of will-drawing because it exposes your loved ones to the risk of uncertainty, dispute, rancour, and quite possibly expensive litigation.

Worse, if in the end a court has to try and decipher what you actually intended, there is no guarantee that it will be able to correctly ascertain your true wishes.

A case of different interpretations and a bitter dispute

A recent SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) case confirms once again the need to express your wishes clearly and unambiguously in your will –

  • A bitter dispute between a widow on the one hand and her three step-children on the other had its roots in a deceased father’s ownership of two plots. On the one plot the father had built houses for his two daughters, with his son building flatlets for renting out on the same plot. He and his wife lived in their house on the other plot.
  • The dispute centered on two different interpretations of a clause in the father’s will in which he had left both plots to his daughters, but subject to a right of habitatio in favour of his wife. That, said the executor of the deceased estate, gave the widow the right to live in, and to rent out, the buildings on both plots.
  • The widow’s step-children on the other hand argued that it could not have been their father’s intention to give his wife such rights to the plot in question in light of all the “surrounding circumstances”. They made much of the fact that their parents’ ante-nuptial contract referred only to the other plot (the one with the marital home) in that context. They also pointed out that they had all agreed informally to each of the siblings being allocated a “portion” of the disputed plot.
  • The siblings accordingly refused to pay out any rentals to the executor, and the dispute eventually found its way into the courts – first the High Court and then the SCA.
  • In confirming the widow’s right to live in the buildings and to let/sub-let them out and receive rentals from both plots, the SCA confirmed that a court will establish the intention of the deceased from the language used “in its contextual setting”. In other words, “the will must be read in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time of its execution.” Thus, in this case it was relevant that the father had not changed his will to reflect the informal allocation of “portions” of the disputed plot between his children, and that he had probably intended his wife to benefit from the receipt of rentals for her financial well-being and maintenance.
  • But beyond that, there is no place for the introduction of “extrinsic evidence” or “surrounding circumstances” if the wording of the will is clear and unambiguous – as it was in this case.

Bottom line – it is critical that the wording of your will be drawn professionally to correctly, clearly, and concisely set out exactly what your wishes are.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

April 24, 2024

Rising Damp and Failed Waterproofing: How to Sue the Sellers

“[w]here a seller recklessly tells a half-truth or knows the facts but does not reveal them because he or she has not bothered to consider their significance, this may also amount to fraud” … “a willful abstention from establishing the true facts does not constitute a lack of knowledge” (Extracts from the judgment below)

Consider this all-too-common scenario: You buy your dream house and happily move in. Only then do you discover that the house has major defects, which were never disclosed to you by the seller. You demand the seller pays the repair costs but the seller refuses. So off to court you go, claiming either damages or a reduction in the purchase price.

What must you prove to win your case? Let’s consider a recent High Court decision addressing just that question.

Concealing the damp with paint and Polyfilla
  • The buyer of a house only became aware of substantial damp problems in the ceilings and walls after taking transfer and when planning renovations. The damp was caused both by rising damp, and by water flowing down into the walls due to failed waterproofing.
  • The sellers (a divorced couple) refused to pay for the repairs (costing just under R245k) and the buyer sued them for either damages or a reduction in the purchase price.
  • Highly relevant – as we shall see below – was the fact that twice in the year of sale the ex-wife (living alone in the house and tasked with selling it after the divorce) had called in contractors to repaint and carry out “cosmetic repairs” – extensive repairs judging by the drum of paint and 24kg of Polyfilla involved.
What the buyer must prove

The matter ended up in the High Court, which considered what the buyer must prove to succeed in a claim of this nature.  –

  • Defects: That there were defects in the property at the time of the sale which “affected the use and value of the property”. The buyer had no difficulty in proving that the damp problems qualified as defects for this purpose.
  • Latent, not patent: That the damp was a latent defect, not “obvious or patent” to the buyer. That’s important because latent defects are defects that “would not have been visible or discoverable upon inspection by the ordinary purchaser” – so if the damp was a “patent” defect, the buyer should have picked it up. The buyer in this case was able to convince the Court that the damp was not discoverable by her at the time of sale because all traces of it had been concealed by the remedial work referred to above.
  • Fraud: That the damp as a latent defect was not covered by the voetstoots clause, a standard clause in deeds of sale which specifies that the property is sold “as is” and without any warranty. The effect of such a clause is that the buyer agrees to carry the risk of latent defects, but only if there was no fraud on the part of the seller. So the buyer had to establish fraud, by proving two things –
    • That the sellers were aware of the damp and its consequences.
    • That they deliberately concealed it with the intention to defraud.
Proving fraud – how relevant is the “property condition report”?

Fraud, said the Court, “is not lightly imputed [but] it may nevertheless be inferred when such inference is supported by the objective facts revealed by the evidence.” The following factors were central to the Court’s conclusion that both sellers had acted with fraudulent intent –

  • The sellers’ protestations that either they were unaware of the damp problems or had not intended to fraudulently conceal them found no favour with the Court on the facts – which included the extent and nature of the re-painting carried out.
  • The ex-wife’s claim to have been ignorant of the damp issues, despite the extent and nature of the “cosmetic repairs” she carried out, was rejected. As the Court put it: “At best for her, she remained willfully ignorant of the underlying cause of the issues in the paintwork; she could not honestly have believed that the core issue had been remediated.”
  • The ex-husband for his part admitted that he had known of damp issues in two rooms because of bubbling paint and a smell of damp, with the Court concluding that: “He appears to have taken no steps to ascertain how extensive or serious those problems were – but a willful abstention from establishing the true facts does not constitute a lack of knowledge.”
  • Perhaps most damningly of all, both the ex-husband and the ex-wife had signed the mandatory Property Condition Report (“defects disclosure form”), in which they specifically stated that there were no latent defects in the property, including “dampness in walls/ floors”.

The Court held that the buyer had proved fraud by both sellers and confirmed her award of R244,855 in damages for the repairs.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

April 24, 2024

The Pothole Plague – Claiming Damages

“If cars are required to be roadworthy, shouldn’t roads be required to be car-worthy?” (Online meme)

If you fall victim to a pothole-infested road, don’t hesitate to sue for your losses. A recent High Court victory for a motorist claiming R8.6m in damages confirms yet again that those charged with maintaining our roads can be made to pay for failing to do so.

R8.6m claimed for a pothole crash
  • A motorist hit a pothole on a gravel road, lost control, and hit a tree. Severe injuries landed him in the ICU with no memory of the crash, and he claimed R8.6m from a provincial department of Public Works and Roads for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings and general damages.
  • His case was that the department’s negligence was the sole cause of his accident. He was, he said, a careful driver unfamiliar with the road in question. As he had no recollection of the accident, the Court relied on expert testimony that the vehicle and tyres were in good condition and his speed was probably about 80kph, whilst the road had numerous potholes and no signs warning of hazards or speed limits despite it being a road notorious for accidents.
  • The department flatly denied any liability and said there were no potholes in the road. Alternatively, it claimed that the accident was caused solely by the driver’s negligence, alternatively that he was contributorily negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout, driving at an excessive speed, and failing to avoid the accident when he could have done so.
  • On the facts the Court held the department 100% liable for whatever damages are proved or agreed. The driver, said the Court, had proved that the department had a duty of care to him, his injuries resulted from its breach of that duty, and it had a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harm. It was negligent in not maintaining the road and in not keeping it in a constant state of repair.
  • On the other side of the coin, the department had not proved any contributory negligence on the part of the motorist – it alone was to blame.
Drivers – your duty to keep a proper lookout

None of that of course means that you will automatically be able to recover for vehicle damage or injury caused by a pothole. As our courts have put it: “A driver of a motor vehicle is obliged to maintain a proper look-out. He (or she) must pay attention to what is happening around him; but most important of all, he must as far as possible keep his eyes on the road …”.

That boils down to simply taking common-sense safety precautions – being aware of the general condition of the road, keeping a proper lookout at all times (a particularly sharp lookout when visibility is poor), travelling carefully and at a reasonable speed, paying attention to road hazard signs and speed limits, keeping your vehicle safe and roadworthy.

All are factors that a court will take into account if you end up in a legal fight, and if you are shown not to have complied with any one of them you risk either losing your claim in total, or having your claim apportioned for contributory negligence.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

April 24, 2024

Lending to a Friend or Relative – When Must You Register as a Credit Provider?

“In life, we never lose friends, we only learn who the true ones are” (Unknown)

Lending money to a friend or family member in need sounds like a natural and informal sort of thing to do. But beware – if relations sour and your friend/relative can’t or won’t repay you, you may not be able to reclaim your money.

The danger is that, if you should have registered as a credit provider in terms of the NCA (National Credit Act) but didn’t, the loan would be an unlawful credit agreement and would therefore be void and unenforceable. You could even face penalties for non-compliance with the requirement to register.

Only “arm’s length” loans fall under the NCA

A recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) case turned on the question of whether or not such a loan was conducted “at arm’s length”.

That’s critical, because only a loan given “at arm’s length” falls under the NCA. The question of what is and isn’t at arm’s length is a complex one, but the factors taken into account by the SCA in reaching its decision provide a good example of what will weigh with a court.

At stake – R15m, loaned informally to a friend on a handshake
  • A R15m loan made by one businessman to another was “informal in nature which was sealed with a handshake, with no interest charged.” Later on, the debtor signed an AOD (Acknowledgment of Debt) for the R15m, granting a grace period of six months before interest would accrue on default. The lender had never registered as a credit provider.
  • The High Court found both the loan agreement and the AOD were subject to the NCA and therefore unlawful.
  • Fortunately for the lender, the SCA overturned this decision on appeal. On the facts, it held that the loan was not “at arm’s length” and therefore not subject to the NCA. Key factors it considered in reaching this decision were –
    • The loan agreement was oral and informal,
    • The parties had become friends and had “… formed a close bond in personal matters outside the realms of business. The loan was offered as a gesture of friendship”,
    • The lender did not normally lend money, and this was a one-time occurrence,
    • No interest was levied on the loan except on default and the lender had not “sought to obtain the utmost advantage from the transaction”.
  • Bottom line – the lender can breathe a sigh of relief, the loan agreement and AOD are not void in terms of the NCA, and it can pursue the debtor for its R15m.
But – don’t take unnecessary chances!

Concluding an informal loan agreement with a handshake is all very well, but this could well have turned out badly for the lender, and R15m is a lot of money to lose for want of checking for lawfulness upfront.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

April 22, 2024

A note from Ianthe Biggs

As I am writing this I am looking out into a small part of our garden. My study looks out over a small patch of grass and a tree where birds play all summer long. It struck me earlier today how suddenly winter has set in; the grass is turning brown and the tree which provides so much joy for playful birds is losing its foliage in preparation for winter. The grass is littered with leaves in flashing colours of brown, red and yellow and it hit me – winter is here. Sure, I have seen it coming, my mind recognises its imminent arrival and I understand the season and the time of year and yet it still catches me unawares every year. This year, what stands out is the fact that we are there again so quickly. The first part of the year feels like a blur. Things moved so incredibly fast, changes occurred, and plans have gone unactioned and suddenly the first quarter is behind us.

I have noticed that others around have also not been left unaffected by the staggering pace with which this year has commenced. People, at least in my circle, seem to be a little on edge, to the point that one needs to be wary of what you say to people. I have also been on the receiving end (and as much as I hate to admit it on the delivering end) of some scathing remarks and outbursts, usually directed to people that are innocent in the equation.

I am in the process of reading a book titled “Good Inside” by Dr Becky Kennedy who operates from a unique perspective. She proposes that one always, in any circumstances and in any conversation operate from the perspective that a person is inherently “Good Inside”. She also proposes that one needs to always give preference to the most generous interpretation to what is happening and how a person is acting. That is a unique approach which I think I want to try and incorporate in the next couple of months. When a person cuts in front of you in traffic, instead of viewing the person as a bad and reckless driver, maybe look at the most generous interpretation and view the person as someone who might have genuinely not seen that it was your turn to go and believed it was his turn to go. The person making a big scene over the price of an item at Checkers being different to the advertisement might not just be a person who likes to be “right all the time” but might need the saving which was advertised so that a few more units of electricity might be bought at the end of the month.  Your child not wanting to go to school might not be because they are being difficult and disobedient but might just be because they enjoyed the connection they had with you in the morning before school.

I wonder what the world could look like, if everyone operated from a perspective that people are all good inside and applied the most generous interpretation they can to every situation and in every conversation?

Regards

Ianthe Biggs | Conveyancer
KVV Inc Attorneys

March 25, 2024

Property: Why Do You Need an Occupancy Certificate Before You Buy?

“…there is no obligation on the [seller] to obtain an occupancy certificate and to furnish it to the [buyers]” (Extract from judgment below)

Imagine this – you buy your dream home, pay for it, take transfer into your name, and move in. But then disaster strikes. The Municipality tells you no occupancy certificate was ever issued for the property and that you must vacate. Now.

Both buyers and sellers should take note of a recent High Court decision highlighting the importance to buyers of getting an occupation certificate from the seller before putting in any offer or insisting on a clause in the sale agreement requiring the seller to produce one before transfer.

What is an occupancy certificate and why is it vital to have one?

It’s confirmation by your local authority that the building complies with the approved building plans and that all other requirements have been met.

Without it, it is unlawful for anyone to occupy the building. You can be ordered to vacate, but that’s not all – other risks include your insurers declining any claims you make, municipal penalties for non-compliance, perhaps threats of a demolition order. You and your family could even be in physical danger if the non-compliance results in electrical hazards, fire risks, structural failure, or the like.

Although the municipality can “grant permission in writing to use the building before the issue of the certificate of occupancy”, that will be a temporary permission only, probably only for a short period and with stringent conditions.

The demolition threat and the court application
  • Having bought a property from the owner/builder’s deceased estate, the buyers took transfer and happily moved in.
  • To their horror, when a municipal building inspector was called in to inspect the building for defects, it came to light that although building plans had been approved 30 years ago, no occupancy certificate had ever been issued.
  • The municipality “suggested” that the buyers vacate immediately and threatened to demolish the building, citing a number of outstanding certificates – completion certificates for the structural and storm water, an electrical compliance certificate, a plumbers’ compliance certificate, a glazing certificate, a gas installation certificate, and a soil poisoning certificate.
  • The buyers demanded that the executor of the deceased estate obtain an occupancy certificate for them, and when she refused, they asked the High Court to order her to do so.
  • The buyers pointed out that, per a standard clause in their sale agreement, the seller was obliged to give them “vacant possession”. That, they argued, meant “lawful possession” requiring the seller to provide them with an occupancy certificate before transfer.
  • The seller (executor) replied that she was not bound by the sale or any other agreement to provide a certificate, that there is no general obligation on a seller to furnish a purchaser of an immovable property with an occupation certificate, that the buyers had been given vacant (“free and undisturbed”) possession, and that anyway the buyers as the new owners should now be the ones to apply for the certificate.
The seller wins, and a warning for buyers

The Court refused to order the seller to provide an occupancy certificate, finding that despite the fact that occupancy of the house was unlawful without the certificate, the buyers had “…clearly received vacant possession. [They] received what they purchased. They had no concerns about what they were purchasing and there is no indication in the papers that they enquired about the occupancy certificate at the time of the sale or prior to taking transfer. They have alternatives available to them … and failed to explain why, as the owner of the property, they have not taken any of the steps available to them.”

In regard to the voetstoots (“sold as is” clause) the Court quoted from a Supreme Court of Appeal decision: “…the absence of the statutory approvals for building alterations, or the other authorisations that render the property compliant with prescribed building standards … does not render the property unfit for the purpose for which it was purchased.”

Perhaps the outcome would be different if a buyer is able to prove that the seller knew of the lack of an occupancy certificate and concealed that, or if a buyer sues for cancellation of the sale agreement or for damages. But that is speculation.

What is clear is this: The occupancy certificate is a vital document and as a buyer you should insist that the seller gives it to you before you make an offer, or that at least a term in the sale agreement obliges the seller to give it to you before transfer.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

March 25, 2024

Who Owns Your Employee’s Invention? Lessons from the “Please Call Me” Saga

24 April 2024 is ‘World Intellectual Property Day’. It’s “an opportunity to explore how intellectual property (IP) encourages and can amplify the innovative and creative solutions that are so crucial to building our common future.” (The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization)

It’s a case that has been making headlines for years, the “Please Call Me” saga in which Vodacom has been sued by an ex-employee and is now at risk of having to pay over billions of rand to him.

With April being “World Intellectual Property Month”, now’s a perfect time to see what lessons this bitter fight holds for all employers and their employees.

The trainee accountant, his long-distance girlfriend, and his bright idea
  • Employed by Vodacom as a trainee accountant, Mr. Kenneth Nkosana Makate was looking for a way to stay in touch with his girlfriend (now wife) with whom he was in a long-distance relationship. As a student she couldn’t afford airtime, a problem faced by many cellphone users at one time or another.
  • Long story short, in 2000 Mr. Makate came up with what is now known as the “Please Call Me” (“PCM”) concept – “a brilliant idea: a cellphone user with no airtime could send a request to another user with airtime, to call the former.” He took the idea to his employer, for whom it turned out to be a “resounding success”.
  • He asked to be paid for his idea, but Vodacom said it wasn’t obliged to pay him anything. Eventually he sued them on the basis of an agreement, verbally reached between him and Vodacom’s Director of Product Development, to pay him compensation for his idea in the form of a share of revenue.
  • Many court battles later the Constitutional Court issued an order declaring that Vodacom was bound by the verbal agreement and ordering the parties to negotiate in good faith to determine an amount of reasonable compensation to be paid.
  • More litigation followed, leading most recently to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). Its order setting out how that compensation is to be calculated leaves Vodacom facing a liability reported to total billions of Rand.
  • Vodacom is, at date of writing, asking for leave to appeal that order in the Constitutional Court, so the show may not be over quite yet. But regardless of the final outcome, there are valuable lessons to be learned here by all employers (and their employees).
So do your employees own their inventions, or do you?

Generally speaking, our common law rule is that the right to all IP or “intellectual property” (covering patents, designs, copyright, and trademarks – loosely “inventions”), belongs to the employer if the employee created it “in the course and scope of employment”.

But that rule has over the decades led to much uncertainty in cases where employees claim to have come up with their inventions other than in the course of their employment – such as out of working hours, whilst working on their own initiative and on personal matters rather than under the employer’s control and direction, and so on.

For example, one of the many areas of dispute in the Vodacom case was the question of whether or not Mr. Makate, as a junior employee on the accounting side, was acting in the course and scope of his employment when he had his lightbulb moment.

Although, as many commentators have pointed out, that case actually has more to do with being bound by one’s verbal agreements than with questions of intellectual property law, the fact remains that, for employers and employees alike, there is a way to avoid all these potential disputes.

How to avoid uncertainty and dispute

The answer of course is to set out clearly in all contracts of employment and related policy documents who will own such inventions. A standard clause to protect employers in this regard might provide that any IP created by the employee during the period of employment are presumed to belong to the employer, no matter the circumstances in which it is created.

Such a clause should ideally be customized to reflect the nature of the employer’s business and the employee’s job description, it should ensure fairness and practicability, it should comply with legislative limitations applying to various types of IP, and it should lay out incentives and procedures for employees to come up with bright ideas and share them.

Every situation will be unique, so specific professional advice tailored to meet your business and its particular needs is essential.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

March 25, 2024

How to Safeguard Your Digital Presence: A Simple Checklist for Website Compliance

“It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away” (Doug Warner)

Your website, social media profiles, and other online platforms play a vital role in your business strategy and in staying ahead of your competition at all times.

However, it’s not just about marketing effectively. Ensuring compliance with regulations is equally crucial, although often overlooked.

Why is Compliance Important?

Compliance ensures that your business:

  • Meets all legal requirements.
  • Reduces risks associated with user engagement.
  • Enhances your brand’s image.
  • Builds trust and loyalty with users.
  • Safeguards your reputation.
  • Prevents unnecessary costs.
A Checklist for Website Compliance

Website compliance involves adhering to various laws, regulations, and standards governing online operations and content. Here’s what it entails:

  • Legal Compliance: Your website must follow local, national, and international laws, covering online business, intellectual property, and consumer protection requirements.
  • Accessibility Compliance: Websites should be accessible to people with disabilities, as mandated by some countries’ laws.
  • Cookie Compliance: Inform users about cookies and obtain their consent before placing them on their devices, as required by many countries.
  • Privacy Compliance: Comply with privacy regulations when collecting user data, such as POPIA in South Africa and (where applicable) GDPR in the EU.
  • Security Compliance: Implement security measures like encryption and secure logins to protect user data and prevent unauthorized access.
  • Content Compliance: Ensure content doesn’t violate copyright or trademark laws.
  • Financial Compliance: Adhere to regulations for online payments and financial transactions if your website conducts such activities.
  • Advertising Compliance: Ensure ads meet advertising standards and regulations to avoid deception or violation of laws.
  • Terms of Service/Supply and Policies: Make legal documents clear, transparent, and legally sound for users to agree to.
  • Industry-Specific Compliance: Some industries have specific regulations, like healthcare websites complying with health information privacy laws.
Integrate compliance into step 1 of your website’s development

Integrate compliance into the very earliest developmental stage of your website, focusing not only on content but also design and process. This ensures that your online presence remains compliant from the outset, reducing the risk of non-compliance issues down the line.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

March 25, 2024

When to Lawyer Up

“The first thing we do is, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (Shakespeare)

Shakespeare must have had an unhappy experience or two with the lawyers of his time to have one of his characters utter that threat, but the reality is that every aspect of our lives is touched at one time or another by the law and the only way to navigate legal waters confidently and safely is with professional guidance.

While many people may feel intimidated by the legal system, seeking legal advice can help to avoid costly mistakes and to ensure that your rights are protected. Here’s a brief guide on when and why you should seek legal help.

When should you seek legal help?

The short answer of course is “any time you are faced with a significant legal issue”, but let’s list some of the more common and important scenarios in which specific legal advice and assistance sometimes seems overkill, but is actually a no-brainer –

  • Buying or selling a property: The process of buying or selling a house involves several legal requirements, from contracts and the transfer process to the financial preparations. Asking us for legal advice before you sign anything can help to ensure that the transaction is legally binding and protects your interests.
  • Starting a business: Setting up a business requires a good understanding of all the legal aspects. We can advise on the best legal structure for your business, help draft contracts and agreements, and ensure that your business complies with all relevant laws.
  • Drafting a will: A valid will is an absolutely vital document to ensure that your loved ones are properly provided for when you die. We will help you draft a will that clearly expresses your wishes and protects the interests of your beneficiaries.
  • Getting married: Choosing the correct “marital regime” before you marry is essential and we will help you to make the best choice and to structure the right ANC (ante-nuptial contract) to protect you both.
  • Getting divorced: The long-term personal and financial ramifications of divorcing make legal assistance indispensable. The earlier you approach us for advice and help, the more effectively we can help you navigate this unhappy process with as little delay and dispute as possible.
  • Employer/employee contracts and disputes: Our employment and labour laws are complex and the consequences of getting them wrong can be extremely serious. There is no substitute for upfront and specific legal advice on structuring employment contracts and handling disputes as they arise.
  • Dealing with disputes: Whether it’s a dispute with an employer, an employee, a neighbor, a customer, or indeed anyone else, seeking legal advice can help you resolve the issue and protect your rights. We can help you understand your rights, stay on the right side of the law, negotiate a settlement, seek arbitration, or if need be, represent you in court.
  • Any brush with our criminal laws: Being accused of a crime can happen to anyone at any time. Perhaps you are arrested after failing a breathalyser test or threatened with a statutory offence relating to your tax affairs. Perhaps it is something even more serious or perhaps it seems inconsequential, but don’t take any chances here – ask us for help immediately or you could end up with a criminal record and serous penalties.
What about small claims, minor disputes, and the like?

You probably won’t need to incur the costs of formal legal advice and help when smaller and less important disputes and issues arise, but it’s always wisest to check with us first. Something seemingly minor could risk serious consequences down the line if not properly handled, and we’ll tell you whether or not that is the case.

Beware false economy

Legal assistance can be costly but beware the temptation to penny-pinch. Our law reports are full of cases where, for want of a little upfront and specific legal advice, litigants end up fighting – and often losing – long, bitter, and costly cases through court after court.

“A stitch in time saves nine” goes the old adage – wise advice indeed, and well worth heeding.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© LawDotNews

March 22, 2024

Time a Priceless Commodity

My toddler very excitedly asks how long until we go to Granma? I answered saying only two nights sleep. Having no concept of time, he demands that he immediately go to bed!

Time is a precious commodity that we cannot put a price on, something one cannot rewind, renew, or trade. From the relentless ticking of a clock to the cyclical rhythms of nature, the concept of time passes through every aspect of our existence, guiding our actions, framing our memories, and defining our very existence.

Yet, despite its constant presence, the true value of time often eludes us, slipping through our fingers like grains of sand in an hourglass.

The expression “Time is money” is claimed to have originated back in 1748, in an essay by Benjamin Franklin called “Advice to a Young Tradesman” in which Franklin wrote, “Remember that time is money.”

While this expression highlights the practical importance of efficiency and productivity, it also reflects a deeper truth: time is a limited resource with unlimited potential. Just as a wise investor carefully allocates their capital to generate returns, so too must we utilize our time to purchase our experiences, invest in our relationships, and pursue our passions. In a world where material wealth is often equated with success, it is easy to overlook the intangible riches that time affords us. Unlike money or possessions, time cannot be stored — it must be spent wisely, for once it is gone, it can never be reclaimed.

The value of time lies not in its quantity but in its quality.

As the poet Henry Van Dyke once wrote, “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

With the upcoming public holidays, keep in mind the definition of quality time:  “The time you spend with someone, give them your full attention because you value the relationship.”

Regards

Janene Marais | Conveyancer
KVV Inc Attorneys