Category Archives: Civil Litigation

Drones: How is it regulated?

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Drones, also sometimes referred to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, are becoming increasingly popular amongst the civilian population. This is due to the fact that it is becoming widely available and increasingly affordable. Drone manufacturers are catering for all different types of consumers and different budgets, with some drone models retailing at less than a R1 000.00. This is good news for drone enthusiasts or those just looking for a fun past time activity. However, this increased popularity and accessibility means that more and more people own drones which result in increased drone activity in our airspace – which could cause chaos.

Disruptions at big international airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick have illustrated the chaos which can be caused by drones when operated illegally and irresponsibly. Numerous flights were suspended between 19 and 21 December 2018 at Gatwick Airport, Britain’s second-biggest hub, after drones were spotted in the vicinity of the airport in order to ensure the safety of the aircraft and passengers. This led to the disruption of thousands of travellers during the festive period.

One must distinguish between the operation of drones for commercial purposes vis-a-vis recreational purposes. The regulation of commercial drone operations (i.e., whenever a drone is used for commercial gain) does not fall within the scope of this article. However, readers are warned that one must have a Remote Pilot Licence when operating a drone for commercial purposes, and such a drone must be registered.

The remainder of this article will discuss how the use of drones for recreational purposes are regulated in South Africa. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (“SACAA”) has issued regulations which must be complied with when operating a drone for recreational purposes. You are not, according to these regulations, allowed to fly your drone in a manner which will in any way endanger the safety of another aircraft or person. This means that you are not allowed to:

  1. Fly your drone within 50 metres of a person or group of people. The regulations list sports fields, social events and schools as examples of places where you will be in contravention of this regulation should you fly there.
  2. Fly your drone within 50 metres of any property, unless you have obtained the consent of the property owner.

SACAA’s regulations further regulate the usage of drones for recreational purposes by imposing the following restrictions:

  1. You are not allowed to fly near any manned aircraft.
  2. You are not allowed to fly within a 10 km radius of any aerodrome (i.e. any airport, helipad, or airfield).
  3. Drones for recreational usage may not weigh more than 7 kg.
  4. You are not allowed to operate your drone within any restricted, controlled or prohibited airspace.
  5. Operating a drone more than 150 ft from the ground is prohibited.

SACAA’s regulations furthermore require drone operators to always maintain a visual line of sight with their drones when flying. This means that you must always be able to see your drone. Drone enthusiasts must only operate their drones in daylight and in clear weather conditions and should always inspect their drone before a flight.

It is of utmost importance to comply with the above regulations in order to ensure that you do not incur liability for any damages caused to people or their property. Readers are encouraged to do the necessary research in order to ensure that there are no regulations or by-laws which apply to their specific geographical area, since some local authorities may have specific restrictions in place.

Reference List:

  • http://www.caa.co.za/Pages/RPAS/Remotely%20Piloted%20Aircraft%20Systems.aspx
  • http://www.nameandshame.co.za/Articles/Drones-what-the-law-says

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Is Uber legal?

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Following the death of one of Uber’s employees due to clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers, the Department of Labour has clarified its position in terms of labour legislation.

Recently, the Department of Labour acknowledged and applauded the ruling by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that Uber drivers are the employees of the company. This decision was in line with the Labour Relations (Act 66 of 1995) as amended. “With regard to the Uber drivers, like any employees, there are no exceptions. They are fully protected by the South African Labour Laws including the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA)”, Commissioner Vuyo Mafata said.

Under the Labour Relations Act, any person who falls in that category is an employee and therefore fully covered in terms of labour legislation.

What happens if an Uber driver is injured?

The COID Act compensates employees who are injured or die during the cause of duty. Therefore, it means the beneficiaries of the Uber driver who died after he was allegedly attacked in Pretoria last month qualify for compensation according to the Act. However, the Fund will have to be provided with all the required documents in order to process the claim.

What about the employer, Uber?

For Uber drivers, all of this is good news. Employees will not be penalised or forfeit their benefits because of unregistered employers, instead the employers will be fined. Furthermore, employers must register their companies with the Compensation Fund so that employees are covered under the COID Act.

Reference:

  • “Department of Labour’s position in terms of Uber drivers and CCMA ruling”, Lloyd Ramutloa – the Department of Labour.

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Medical negligence claims

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Medical negligence refers to a negative consequence of a medical treatment that could have been avoided by the medical practitioner. The Health Professions Act 56 of 1974 outlines South African medical law and it should be consulted by any person who suspects a case of medical negligence.

What is Medical Negligence?

Imagine breaking your leg and requiring surgery for it to heal correctly. After being admitted for surgery, the surgeon guarantees you that it is a routine procedure and that your leg will heal perfectly. However, after the surgery, you have no feeling in your one foot. It is possible that a nerve has been damaged. If the surgeon is the primary cause of this consequence, for example he/she was careless, then it is considered as medical negligence.

It is worth noting that a medical practitioner cannot be held responsible for unforeseen complications that arose from unavoidable treatments. If complications arose from unknown sources, even though the practitioner has performed the treatment perfectly, he/she cannot be held responsible.

Any complication that arose after a treatment could be a result of negligence. If you suffer from an unusual complication that you suspect arose from medical treatment, it is advised to get a second opinion. If you are certain that the medical practitioner was negligent, you should not wait too long before you consult a medical malpractice lawyer, because your case can weaken over time; witnesses may forget what happened and documents can go missing.

How Is It Decided Who Was Negligent?

If you believe that you have suffered because of negligence by a medical practitioner, you have the right to lay a claim in court against him/her. A Judge will hear arguments from both legal representations and then decide whether or not negligence has occurred. Usually other medical practitioners are consulted to provide their expert testimony for both cases. The Judge must evaluate all the evidence and then pass judgment on the claim.

  1. In South Africa, the Judge must decide first whether or not the medical practitioner is liable, and then to what extent the patient must be compensated.
  2. In extreme instances, a medical negligence case can turn into a criminal case if it is proved that the medical practitioner is guilty of criminal conduct.

Sometimes the medical practitioner may be completely accountable, for example he/she could have performed the medical procedure incorrectly out of ignorance. It could also be decided that the company is completely responsible, because it did not provide the adequate equipment for the procedure. A Judge may decide that both parties are guilty of negligence and then hold them equally or partially responsible.

How Does the Claiming Process Work?

If you are no longer in need of medical attention, the first person you should get in touch with is your legal adviser. Then it is necessary to inform the Health Professions Council of South Africa to lodge a complaint.

Your legal adviser will request all your medical records to review the evidence so he/she can send a letter of demand to the medical practitioner. The response to this letter will determine whether or not the matter will go to trial; the practitioner may decide to rather settle the matter out of court and to meet the demands. If the matter does go to court, you may be required to testify.

If your claim is successful, the Judge may grant you compensation in an amount that is equal to what he/she considers fair; this may include the legal costs, loss of income and any other cost you incurred.

Reference:

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)