Category Archives: Law of Contracts

What does a suspensive condition in a contract really mean?

A2Most people that have bought a property may have noticed a clause dealing with suspensive conditions in the contract of sale. Usually these conditions relate to deposits that need to be paid, financing that has to be procured and/or another property that needs to be sold before the sale can be confirmed. The interpretation appears straightforward enough – meet the requirements, and the contract is valid; fail to meet the requirements and the contract is invalid. But is it really that straightforward? And what are the consequences of non-compliance?

In layman’s terms a condition contained in a contract can be described as a provision that defers the obligation(s) of a party in the contract to the occurrence of some future uncertain event. This is usually termed a ‘suspensive condition’ or a ‘condition precedent’.

Legally a suspensive condition can be described as a condition, which suspends the operation or effect of one, or some, or all, of the obligations under a contract until the condition is fulfilled. If the condition is not fulfilled then no contract comes into existence. Once the condition is fulfilled, the contract and the mutual rights of the parties relate back to, and are deemed to have been in force from, the date of the signature of the agreement and not the date of the fulfilment of the condition.

The Supreme Court of Appeal recently confirmed that where a suspensive condition is not fulfilled timeously it lapses and the parties are not bound by it, even though one party has performed fully.

In the matter of Africast (Pty) Limited v Pangbourne Properties Limited the parties concluded a contract for the development of commercial property in an area in Gauteng. One of the suspensive conditions in the contract was that Pangbourne’s board of directors had to approve the contract and written approval had to be presented to Africast within seven working days from the date of conclusion of the contract. The contract was signed on 11 April 2007 and Pangbourne’s board of directors approved the contract on 20 April 2007, however the written approval was only provided on 25 April 2007 to Africast, which was after the required seven-day period. Pangbourne decided after 18 months that since the suspensive condition had not been met within the stipulated period, it was not bound by the contract and refused to deliver the required guarantees. At that stage buildings had already been constructed by Africast in terms of the agreement.

The Court confirmed Pangbourne’s view that since the suspensive condition in the contract had not been fulfilled timeously no contract had come into existence and that the contract had lapsed due to non-fulfilment of the suspensive condition. The Court came to this conclusion notwithstanding the fact that both parties had performed in terms of the agreement for some 18 months.

The most common appearance of suspensive conditions is in contracts involving the sale of immovable property such as a house, flat, plot, or farm. The conditions that are generally encountered in the contract of sale is that the sale is subject to the purchaser obtaining a bond from a financial institution and/or that the sale is subject to the purchaser selling his existing property within a certain period.

It is important to bear in mind that suspensive conditions are usually inserted in a contract for the benefit of one of the parties to the contract. In the abovementioned scenario, the suspensive conditions are included for the protection of the purchaser. Should the purchaser fail to obtain a bond and/or sell his existing property within the required period, the contract would not have any force or effect and the purchaser will not be bound to the terms and conditions of the contract. Non-fulfilment of a suspensive condition renders the contract void and should the parties still wish to continue with the sale, a new contract of sale must be concluded.

If a suspensive condition is included for the benefit of a particular party to a contract, such suspensive condition can be waived at any time prior to the lapsing of the time for the fulfilment of the suspensive condition by the party for whose benefit the condition was included. Having regard to the scenarios mentioned above, the purchaser may accordingly at any time before the lapsing of the period of the suspensive condition, inform the seller that he waives the suspensive condition and the contract is no longer subject thereto. This will then make the contract unconditional and the purchaser and seller will be bound to the terms of the contract.

It is always prudent to tread carefully when entering into a contract that is subject to a suspensive condition. Be aware of the stipulated periods for compliance, for whose benefit the conditions are inserted and the requirements to prove compliance. If necessary, ensure you seek legal advice before you sign the contract and obtain advice before you waive any conditions that have been inserted for your benefit.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other 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 legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

So wanneer is ek by magte om as trustee op te tree?

A4blDie Wet op Beheer van Trustgoedere 57 van 1988 definieer ‘n trustee as “enige persoon (ingesluit die oprigter) wat optree as trustee uit hoofde van ‘n magtiging in terme van Artikel 6.”

In die saak van Lupacchini teen die Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit (16/2010) [2010], ZASCA 108 (17 September 2010), is die posisie van ‘n trustee wat sonder die nodige magtiging opgetree het, oorweeg, waar die trustee regstappe gemagtig het.

‘n Trust wat tot stand kom deur ‘n trustakte is nie ‘n regspersoon nie – maar ‘n spesiale verhouding beskryf deur die skrywers van Honoré’s South African Law of Trusts as “a legal institution in which a person, the trustee, subject to public supervision, holds or administers property separately from his or her own, for the benefit of another person or persons or for the furtherance of a charitable or other purpose.”

Alhoewel die trust eiendom in elke trustee individueel vestig, moet hulle gesamentlik optree, tensy die trustakte anders bepaal. Hulle individuele belange negeer nie die vereiste dat hulle saam moet optree nie.

Die gevolg van ‘n handeling wat in stryd met ‘n statutêre verbod gepleeg is, is al telkemale oorweeg in ander sake, en dit hang af van die behoorlike konstruksie van die wetgewing en die bedoeling van die wetgewer.

Die doel van die wet is om die Meester in staat te stel om toesig oor trustees te kan hou en hulle administrasie van die trust en Artikel 6(1) is essensieel hiervoor, en om die trustees te belet om op te tree alvorens hulle gemagtig is deur die Meester, verseker die wet dat trustees net kan optree as hulle sodanig voldoen aan die wet.

In Kropman NO teen Nysschen is bevind dat ‘n hof die diskresie het om handelinge van ‘n trustee wat sonder die nodige magtiging opgetree het, terugwerkend goed te keur. Hierdie standpunt is met oortuiging in latere sake verwerp.

“Locus standi in iudicio” daarenteen is iets anders en is nie afhanklik van die magtiging om op te tree nie, maar hang af of die litigant geag word deur die hof om ‘n genoegsame belang in die litigasie te hou.

Alhoewel Artikel 6(1) ‘n trustee se bevoegdheid om in daardie hoedanigheid op te tree opskort, kan hy of sy ‘n genoegsame belang in die administrasie van die trust hou om locus standi te hê.

Die essensie van die verbiedende frase in artikel 6(1) “… shall act in that capacity only if authorised thereto …”, moet geïnterpreteer word om te bedoel dat ‘n trustee nie voor die Meester se magtiging, enige regte mag bekom vir of kontraktueel verpligtinge aangaan namens, die trust nie en is nie bedoel om die kwessie van locus standi in iudicio te reguleer nie.

Litigasie wat ingestel word deur ongemagtigde trustees en kommersiële transaksies wat die trust bind, is ongeldig en nietig.

[1] 5th ed (2002) by Edwin Cameron with Marius de Waal, Basil Wunsh and Peter Solomon para 1.

[2] 1999 (2) SA 567 (T) at 576F.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

Die verbruiker se regte onder die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming

article-2-SeptemberKan ‘n verbruiker jou, die diensverskaffer, hof toe sleep omdat die verbruiker nie sommige van die terme en voorwaardes van jou getekende kontrak verstaan nie? Pasop, die antwoord is Ja!

Vanaf April 2011 het die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming in volle werking getree, met die gevolg dat dit nou onwettig is om moeilik-om-te-verstaan ​​taal in enige besigheidsdokument of kontrak te gebruik.

Besigheid gaan gewoonlik gepaard met baie papierwerk, of dit nou ‘n kontrak, ‘n brief, `n ooreenkoms of selfs ‘n instruksieboekie is. Hierdie noodsaaklike dokumente is dikwels geskryf in taal wat ​​vir die gemiddelde verbruiker moeilik is om te verstaan.

Die rede waarom daar spesifieke Eenvoudige Taal-regulasies in die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming vervat is, is om die verbruikers te beskerm teen die ondertekening van dokumente wat hulle nie verstaan ​​nie.

Beskerming van die verbruiker

Die Wet se uitdruklike doel is om seker te maak dat verbruikers nie onbillik behandel word nie – doelbewus of  nie. Dit beteken dat die gebruik van eenvoudige taal nou belangriker is as ooit. Die gebruik van vae en verwarrende bewoording, veral in bindende kontrakte, word nie meer toegelaat nie. Om dit eenvoudig te stel, dit is onwettig!

Te veel verbruikers het vroeër in groot moeilikheid beland, veral finansiële moeilikheid, omdat hulle nie verstaan ​het ​wat hulle onderteken het nie. Soms is kontrakte geskryf in opgeblase, burokratiese styl net omdat dit is hoe dit nog altyd was, of omdat die mense wat die kontrakte opstel bloot nie geweet het van enige ander manier om dit te doen nie.

Dikwels, egter, het gewetenlose besighede opsetlik ingewikkelde taal gebruik as ‘n manier om verbruikers te mislei om te betaal vir iets wat hulle nie kan bekostig nie, hul regte weg te teken, of om in te stem tot onbillike terme en voorwaardes.

Omskrywing van eenvoudige taal

Die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming definieer eenvoudige taal in Deel D, Artikel 22 soos volg:

By die toepassing van hierdie Wet, is ’n kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling in gewone taal, indien dit redelik is om tot die gevolgtrekking te kom dat ’n gewone verbruiker van die klas van persone vir wie die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling bedoel is, met gemiddelde geletterdheidsvaardighede en minimale ondervinding as ’n verbruiker van die betrokke goedere of dienste, verwag kan word om die inhoud, betekenis en belang van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling sonder onnodige inspanning te verstaan, met inagneming van:

  • Die samehang, omvattendheid en konsekwentheid van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling;
  • Die organisering, vorm en styl van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling;
  • Die woordeskat, gebruik en sinstruktuur van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling; en
  • Die gebruik van illustrasies, voorbeelde, opskrifte of ander hulpmiddels om te lees en te verstaan.

Dit beteken dat ‘n mens nie dinge so wyd kan omskryf dat dit op verskeie maniere verstaan of geïnterpreteer kan ​​word nie. Die Wet bepaal dat indien daar enige twyfel oor die betekenis van sekere woorde of terme en voorwaardes is, die voordeel ten gunste van die verbruiker sal wees.

Selfs advertensies en bemarking mag nie meer enige onduidelikheid vir die verbruiker daarstel nie. Advertensies word nie toegelaat om te oordryf nie en moet maklik verstaanbaar, regverdig en eerlik wees. Die Wet bepaal dus dat diensverskaffers alles in duidelike en eenvoudige taal wat verbruikers kan verstaan, moet uitspel. Alternatiewelik het  die verbruikers die reg op blootlegging en inligting in eenvoudige en verstaanbare taal.

Dus, moenie uitstel nie. Indien  jy ‘n besigheidsdokument of kontrak het wat al jare gebruik word moet jy dalk met ander oë daarna kyk en dit wysig of herbewoord ten einde te verseker dat dit voldoen aan die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

Fixed Term Contracts – A New Twist You Need To Know!

The unfair dismissal claim

Employees:  Are you employed on a fixed contract basis?  If so, what are your rights when your contract expires?  In a nutshell, you will have a case against your employer for unfair dismissal if: –

  1. You have “a reasonable expectation” that the fixed term contract will be renewed on the same or similar terms; and
  2. Your employer fails, without a “fair reason”, to renew your contract on the same or better terms, or fails to renew it at all.

Employers:  Tread carefully here, and take advice in doubt!  Routine renewal of a fixed term contract without explanation and without justification will virtually guarantee an unfair dismissal claim in the end. Continue reading

Auction Bidders – 5 Rights You Need To Know!

Are you hoping to pick up a bargain at a public auction but are put off by the media uproar over allegations of undisclosed “vendor” or “ghost” bidding?  If so, read on……

Auctioneers and the CPA

The Consumer Protection Act and Regulations impose very strict and detailed obligations on auctioneers in regard to how they must advertise and conduct auctions.  Which gives you, the bidder, a raft of important rights. Continue reading

Living Together: The Risk, And The Remedy

With couples increasingly cohabiting before (or instead of) formally marrying, and with the Domestic Partnerships Bill of 2008 still on ice, it bears repeating –

1.     There is no such thing in South Africa as a “Common Law Marriage”

2.     Any cohabiting couple needs to urgently take advice on concluding a formal “cohabitation agreement” – don’t risk not having one! Continue reading

Wanneer Jy Op ‘N Veiling Gaan Bie – Vyf Regte Wat In Jou Guns Tel

Het jy gehoop om ‘n winskopie by ‘n openbare veiling op te tel? Is jy nou in die duister na die openbaring van spookbieërs en bieërs wat namens die verkoper die prys opjaag?  Indien wel, lees verder ……

Afslaers en die Verbruikerswet

Die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming en die gepaardgaande Regulasies omskryf en reguleer in fyn besonderhede hoe veilings geadverteer moet word en hoe die werklike veiling gehou moet word. Die Verbruikerswet gee vir jou as belangstellende koper heelwat regte en beskerming by ‘n veiling. Continue reading

Om Saam Te Woon : Die Risiko En Die Oplossing

Dit gebeur toenemend dat paartjies saamwoon voordat hulle in die huwelik tree (of dikwels saamwoon in die plek van die huwelik). Die mees onlangse wetsontwerp hieroor dateer uit 2008 (“the Domestic Partnerships Bill of 2008”) en dit is nog nie afgehandel of in werking gestel nie.

Dit is dus nodig om die huidige regsposisie in Suid Afrika duidelik te stel:  –

1.     Regtens bestaan daar nie ‘n gemeenregtelike huwelik nie (“Common Law Marriage”)

2.     Partye wat saamwoon moet eerder so gou moontlik ‘n formele “saamwoon ooreenkoms” sluit. Die risiko vir een of beide partye is net te groot om dit nie te doen nie. Continue reading