Monthly Archives: May 2013

Geskille met jou regspersoon: eienaars se remedies

In ‘n onlangse geval het die trustees van die regspersoon van ‘n sekere deeltitelskema ‘n wiel van die motor van een van die huiseienaars geklamp het (“wheel clamp”) omdat hy nie op sy toegekende parkeerplek geparkeer het nie.

Alhoewel die huiseienaar nie op sy toegekende parkeerplek parkeer het nie, kon hy nie verstaan waarom sy voertuig se wiel geklamp kon word vir parkering voor sy eie voorstoep terwyl hy in die loop van die dag in en uit die huis bedrywig was nie, en was hy van mening dat dit hoogs onregverdige en onredelike optrede deur die trustees van die regspersoon was.

Dit is ‘n alombekende waarheid dat elke huiseienaar in `n deeltitelskema nie net kan doen wat hy wil nie want dit sou lei tot totale wanorde in die deeltitelskema. Dit is die plig van die trustees van die regspersoon om die reëls op alle eienaars en huurders af te dwing. Wanneer ‘n persoon ‘n eiendom in ‘n deeltitelskema koop sal daar heel waarskynlik `n bepaling in die ooreenkoms wees wat sê dat die huiseienaar, onder andere, die reëls van die regspersoon moet nakom.

Die vraag ontstaan egter of die huiseienaar se hande afgekap is indien die reëls van die deeltitelskema op ‘n algemene vergadering deur die trustees van die regspersoon gewysig is en die huiseienaar nie die reëls nakom nie.

Remedies beskikbaar vir huiseienaars en huurders

Indien daar rede is om te glo dat die trustees van die regspersoon van ‘n deeltitelskema ultra vires (buite hul magte) opgetree het, het huiseienaars twee remedies wat beskikbaar is, naamlik arbitrasie of ‘n interdik.

    1. Arbitrasie stap-vir-stap

      Die ontevrede huiseienaar kan aansoek doen vir arbitrasie, ‘n prosedure wat nie meer as ‘n maksimum van 52 dae moet duur nie.

      Kragtens Artikel 71 van Aanhangsel 8 in die Wet op Deeltitels 95 van 1986 is die doel van arbitrasie nie, soos sommige glo, om nakoming van die reëls te bewerkstellig nie.Die voorgeskrewe prosedure vereis dat die ontevrede huiseienaar sy geskil skriftelik moet voorlê aan die trustees van die regspersoon van die deeltitelskema 14 dae nadat die probleem ontstaan het, waarna die trustees die geskil sal ondersoek en probeer om die geskil op te los. Indien die geskil nie opgelos kan word nie, kan of die huiseienaar of die trustees van die regspersoon versoek dat die aangeleentheid vir arbitrasie verwys word.

      Die arbiter het ‘n wye diskresie in die maak van ‘n kostebevel. Onder andere mag hy betaling deur die een party, meer as een party gesamentlik, of in `n spesifieke verhouding gelas, afhangende van die uitslag van die arbitrasie. Die arbiter se beslissing kan ook ‘n bevel van die Hooggeregshof gemaak word op aansoek deur enige party of deur ‘n party wat geraak word deur die arbitrasie.

 

  1. Alternatiewe remedie

    Daar is ‘n verdere remedie beskikbaar vir die huiseienaar, naamlik ‘n interdik of
    enige vorm van dringende of ander regshulp by ‘n hof met jurisdiksie.

    Hou egter die volgende waarskuwing in gedagte:

    ‘Furthermore, the interdependence of the owners and occupants of units and the unavoidable requisite of harmonious co-existence render an interdict inadequate and indeed improper in the sectional title context. A successful application for an interdict can permanently ruin the harmony of a scheme’
    (LAWSA aw para 238)

In wese kan jy die stappe, soos hierbo uiteengesit volg vir verligting indien die reëls van jou deeltitelskema toelaat dat die trustees van die regspersoon jou motor se wiel mag klamp indien jy nie die reëls gehoorsaam nie, en jy rede het om te glo dat die regspersoon buite sy magte optree of dat die reëls onredelik is.

NOTA AAN PROKUREURS: Kyk Artikel 71 van Aanhangsel 8 Deeltitelwet 95 van 1986

VERWYSDE WERK: Kyk die artikel “Managing the Unmanageable ” deur Tertius Maree, gepubliseer in De Rebus, Augustus 1999.

Kyk ook die artikel “Arbitration in Sectional Title Disputes” deur Tertius Maree, gepubliseer in De Rebus, Augustus 1998.

Verwysings:
Ronnilie Theron
Honey Prokureurs

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.

Disputes with body corporate: homeowners’ remedies

article1nl-In a recent matter the trustees of the body corporate of a certain sectional title scheme clamped the wheel of the car of one of its homeowners because he did not park on his allocated parking bay.

Even though the homeowner did not park on his allocated parking bay, he could not understand why his vehicle got clamped for parking outside of his own front porch, when he was in and out of the house during the day. It seemed highly unfair and unreasonable to the homeowner.

It is a truism that every homeowner cannot do as he pleases as this would lead to total disorder in the sectional title scheme, and it is the duty of the trustees of the body corporate to enforce rules on owners and tenants alike. When one buys a property in a sectional title one will more often than not find a provision in the agreement which states that homeowners, inter alia, will abide by the rules of the body corporate.

This begs the question whether or not the homeowner’s hands are tied if the rules were amended by a special decision taken at a general meeting by the trustees of the body corporate.

Remedies available to homeowners and tenants

If there is reason to believe that the trustees of the body corporate of a sectional title scheme have acted ultra vires (outside their powers), homeowners have a choice of two remedies, either arbitration or an interdict.

    1. Arbitration step-by-step

      The discontented homeowner could apply for arbitration, the duration of which should not exceed a maximum of 52 days.

      In terms of Section 71 of Annexure 8 of the Sectional Title Act 95 of 1986, the purpose of arbitration is not, as some believe, to achieve compliance. The prescribed process requires the discontented homeowner to submit his dispute in writing to the trustees of the body corporate of the sectional title scheme after 14 days of the problem arising, whereafter the trustees will review and attempt to settle the matter. Should the problem still not be resolved, either the homeowner or the trustees of the body corporate can request that the matter be referred for arbitration.

      The arbitrator has wide discretion in making a costs award. He may order payment by one party, by more than one jointly, or in specific proportions, depending on the outcome of the arbitration. The arbitrator’s decision may be made an order of the High Court upon application by either party, or a party affected by the arbitration.

 

  1. Alternative remedy

    There is a further remedy available to the homeowner, namely an interdict or any form of urgent or other relief by a court with jurisdiction.But this line of action has elicited the following warning:

    Furthermore, the interdependence of the owners and occupants of units and the unavoidable requisite of harmonious co-existence render an interdict inadequate and indeed improper in the sectional title context. A successful application for an interdict can permanently ruin the harmony of a scheme (LAWSA aw para 238)

In essence, if the rules of your Body Corporate allow the trustees to clamp your wheel should you disobey the rules, and you have reason to believe that your Body Corporate is acting outside of its powers and/or the rules are unreasonable, you may follow the steps as set out above.

NOTE TO ATTORNEYS: See Section 71 of Annexure 8 Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986;

REFERENCED WORK: See the article “Managing the Unmanageable” by Tertius Maree, published in De Rebus, August 1999.

Also see the article “Arbitration in Sectional Title Disputes” by Tertius Maree, published in De Rebus, August 1998.

Source Reference:
Ronnilie Theron
Honey Attorneys

This article is a general information sheet and 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Verkopers se beskerming beperk onder voetstootsklousule

article2Verkopers se beskerming onder die voetstootsklousule in ‘n koopkontrak vir die verkoop van onroerende eiendom, is dalk nie so “absoluut” soos sommige mense dink nie. Dit bly steeds die verkopers se plig om alle latente (verborge) gebreke in die eiendom aan voornemende kopers uit te wys.

Verkopers se versuim om hieraan gehoor te gee, kan hulle duur te staan kom, soos in die onlangse saak Banda & Fynn v van der Spuy (781/2011) [2013] ZASCA 23 (22 Maart 2013) in die Appélhof beslis is.

‘n Latente gebrek is byvoorbeeld ‘n lekkende dak of ‘n warmwatersilinder wat probleme veroorsaak. Basies enige fout wat nie met die blote oog gesien kan word nie. Voornemende kopers sal byvoorbeeld nie gedurende die ‘droë’ maande watermerke op ‘n plafon kan sien as bewys van ‘n lekkende dak nie.

In die bogemelde saak het die verkopers nagelaat om die kopers in te lig oor die werklike skade wat aan hulle woning se grasdak aangerig is.  Die verkopers het herstelwerk aangebring nadat hul bewus geword het van die lekkende dak.  By verdere ondersoek deur kenners is egter vasgestel dat die oorsaak van die lekkasies tweevoudig was.  Eerstens, was die houtpale wat die grasdak ondersteun het onvoldoende om die gewig van die dak te dra en het dit veroorsaak dat die dak stelselmatig inmekaar gesak het.  Tweedens, was die betrokke woning se dakhelling slegs 35 grade, wat veroorsaak het dat reënwater in die dak insyfer en die dak dus gouer laat verrot het.  Die kenners het getuig dat die helling van ‘n grasdak minstens 45 grade moet wees vir water om van die dak af te kan vloei. Die aanvanklike herstelwerk was dus onvoldoende om die lekkasie te verhoed nie.  Die kopers het eers ná registrasie van die eiendom op hul naam agter die kap van die byl gekom. Derhalwe moes die verkopers opdok om die dak te herbou, aangesien die probleem nie permanent opgelos kon word deur slegs herstelwerk aan te bring nie.  Alhoewel die verkopers nie van die groter probleem (die onvoldoende helling van die dak) bewus was nie, is hulle steeds aanspreeklik gehou aangesien hulle bewus was van die feit dat die herstelwerk nie die probleem permanent sou oplos nie.

Patente gebreke aan die ander kant, bly steeds die koper se verantwoordelikheid.  Voornemende kopers kan dus nie terugsit en aanvaar dat, indien gebreke na okkupasie van die eiendom opduik, die verkopers aanspreeklik gehou sal word nie.  Patente gebreke word gedefinieer as gebreke wat sigbaar is tydens ‘n gewone ondersoek.* ‘n Voorbeeld van ‘n patente gebrek is ‘n kraak in ‘n muur.  Dit is voornemende kopers se plig om verkopers uit te vra oor die stand van sake en waarborge van die verkopers oor gebreke in die eiendom op skrif te kry.

Daar rus dus ‘n wedersydse verantwoordelikheid op kopers en verkopers rakende gebreke in ‘n eiendom. Verkopers moet eerlik wees oor enige latente gebreke en kopers moet, wanneer hulle ‘n potensiële woning besigtig, uitkyk vir patente gebreke.  Dit is egter wys uit ‘n verkoper se oogpunt om eerder ‘n verminderde koopprys met kopers te onderhandel weens gebreke in die eiendom, as om moontlik ná registrasie van die eiendom deur die kopers aanspreeklik gehou te word vir herstelwerk wat groot finansiële implikasies kan hê.

Verwysings:
Banda & Fynn v van der Spuy (781/2011) [2013] ZASCA 23 (22 Maart 2013)
*Dictionary of Legal Words and Phrases, 2nd edition, Claassen

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.

Seller’s protection under voetstoots clause limited

article2A seller’s protection under the “voetstoots” clause in a deed of sale for immovable property is not as “absolute” as some might think.  It is still the seller’s duty to inform prospective purchasers about all latent (hidden) defects in a property.

A seller’s failure to do so could cost the seller in the long run, as per a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Banda & Fynn v van der Spuy (781/2011) [2013] ZASCA 23 (22 March 2013).

Examples of latent defects are a leaking roof or a faulty geyser. It basically includes any defects that cannot be seen with the naked eye.  Prospective purchasers will, for example, not see water marks on a ceiling resulting from a leaking roof, in “dry” months.

In the above mentioned case the sellers failed to inform the purchasers about the true extent of the damage to the property’s roof.  The sellers were aware of the fact that the roof leaked and had some repairs done to it to try and fix the problem. On closer inspection by specialists it was found that the cause of the leaks was twofold. Firstly, the wooden roof poles were inadequate to properly support the weight of the thatch roof and resulted in the gradual sagging of the roof. Secondly, the pitch of the property’s thatch roof was only 35 degrees and not 45 degrees as it should be, which would have at least ensured that rain water would run off the roof.  The specialists testified that due to the pitch of the roof being 35 degrees, water ran into the roof and caused the thatch to rot more quickly. It was found that the initial repairs were therefore not sufficient to stop the roof from leaking in future.  The purchasers only discovered this after registration of the property and the sellers had to fork out to replace the roof, as the problem could not be permanently solved by doing repairs to it. Even though the sellers were not aware of the bigger problem, namely the incorrect pitch of the roof, they were still held liable because they were aware that the repairs which they had done were not adequate.

On the other hand, patent defects are still the purchaser’s responsibility.  Prospective purchasers cannot sit back and think that if any problems occur after occupation, the sellers will be held liable.  A patent defect is defined as “one which will be apparent on an ordinary inspection”*.  An example of a patent defect will be a crack in a wall which shows through the paint.  It is a prospective purchaser’s duty to ask the sellers about such defects and get all guarantees from the sellers in writing.

It is clear that a mutual responsibility rests on sellers and purchasers regarding defects in a property. Sellers should be honest regarding latent defects and purchasers should be vigilant, when viewing a property, for any patent defects.  It will be wise for sellers to rather negotiate a lower purchase price due to defects in a property, and to disclose them to the purchaser.  Failing to be honest with the purchaser could have huge financial implications for the seller after registration of the property.

References:
Banda & Fynn v van der Spuy (781/2011) [2013] ZASCA 23 (22 Maart 2013)
*Dictionary of Legal Words and Phrases, 2nd edition, Claassen

This article is a general information sheet and 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Trustees of Body Corporate not allowed to disconnect electricity or water supply to a section as a debt collection measure

article3The default of levy payments is a frequent problem for the trustees of body corporates as well as the managing agent.  It is the way in which the defaulting owner is treated and the outstanding debt collected, that will make the difference between a functioning, financially stable sectional title scheme and an impending disaster zone.

In these testing economic times, monthly levy payments are sometimes considered by owners of sectional title sections to be an optional expense in making ends meet on a tight budget.  Once an owner has got away with defaulting on one payment, habitual default becomes easy, and more so if the trustees and management agent are slow to react to the failure to pay.  The problem is worsened by the fact that the monthly levy is carefully calculated prior to the annual general meeting to be the minimum amount possible, in an attempt to accommodate the owners.  However, these small monthly levies could easily accrue over a few months to a significant amount, aggravated by interest and reflected as a substantial outstanding debt.

These non-payers place severe financial restraints on the cash flow of a body corporate which is largely dependent on the timeous monthly payments by all its members to fulfil its monthly obligations to, inter alia, municipalities regarding water and common area electricity usage, security, and general upkeep of the property.  If the body corporate does not have large financial reserves on which it can rely in the event of default by its members, the impact of the default can be severe and can cause unnecessary hardship for other owners. There are known instances of special levies raised in order to assist the body corporate in its financial hardship.

Many trustees and managing agents, in order to recover outstanding amounts, revert to taking the law into their own hands by cutting off the water and electricity supply to such members’ sections or units.  Some have even passed rules which allow for such actions.  Justifications for these actions by trustees and management agents are abundant, but none of these are legally sound or will stand in court.

By withholding the water and/or electricity supply to the section, whether or not it is allowed for in the rules, the trustees and management agent not only disregard the owner’s constitutional rights to access to water as well as the provisions of the electricity act, but also specific stipulations of the Sectional Title Act, Act 95 of 1986 as amended (“the Act”) and confirmed in case law.  Such trustees and managing agents expose themselves and the trustees in their personal capacity, to an application by the owner and/or the occupier, against the spoliation of such services, or access with a court order for immediate re-connection.  The body corporate or management agent may not interfere with water and electricity services rendered to a section or unit.  The penalty will be a cost order, if not granted on a punitive scale, red faces, and a lot to answer to at the next annual general meeting.

The Act clearly stipulates in Section 37(2) that trustees must approach by action any court, including the Magistrate’s court, for recovery of any and all contributions levied under the provision of Section 37(1), which include monthly levies, special levies, interest, and legal costs on attorney and client scale.

The trustees and managing agent have no choice herein. Prompt debt collection action taken against any owner immediately on default, will be the best defence.  Therefore the trustees must ensure that the appointed management agent either has a proven track record or a detailed collection policy prior to appointment of such agent.  We all know that the wheels of justice turn slowly, and that it can take months for the default judgment to be granted and a warrant issued. By delaying the collection process the outstanding levy account increases exponentially, together with the burden on paying owners.

Therefore, the trustees themselves should keep a watchful eye on monthly payments and ensure that defaulting owners are immediately contacted by the management agent and, if they persist in the default, handed over to competent attorneys for collection.  The sooner, the better.  The old adage “absentee landlords gather no crops” is fitting, and trustees should ensure that the management agents attend to defaulters speedily and effectively in the interest of both their own property investment and that of the other owners in the sectional title scheme.

For further reading, see the judgment by Blieden J with Serobe AJ concurring in Queensgate Body Corporate v MJV Claesen delivered on 26 November 1998 in the Witwatersrand Local Division, case number A3076/1998, and case law referred to therein.

This article is a general information sheet and 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Trustees van Beheerliggaam mag nie water of elektrisiteit na ‘n eenheid afsny as ‘n skuldinvorderingsmetode nie

article3Vir sowel die trustees van ‘n beheerliggaam as die bestuursagent is die wanbetaling van heffings ‘n probleem wat kort-kort opduik.  Dit is egter die wyse waarop die wanbetaler hanteer en die uitstaande skuld ingevorder word, wat die verskil gaan maak tussen ‘n behoorlik funksionerende en finasieël gesonde deeltitelskema, of ‘n dreigende rampgebied.

In hierdie taai ekonomiese tye beskou baie eienaars van eenhede in deeltitelskemas die betaling van die maandelikse heffing as ‘n opsionele uitgawe ten einde ‘n knypende begroting te laat klop.  As ‘n eienaar eers eenmaal daarmee weggekom het om nie die heffing te betaal nie, word so ‘n eienaar maklik in die versoeking gelei om gereeld wan te betaal, en te meer waar die Trustees en bestuursagent stadig reageer op die wanbetaling.  Die probleem word vererger deur die feit dat die maandelikse heffings versigtig bereken word voor die algemene jaarvergadering om so klein as moontlik te wees, juis ten einde eienaars tegemoet te kom.  Klein heffings word egter maklik oor ‘n paar maande ‘n wesentlike uitstaande skuld, vererger deur opgelope rente.

‘n Kontantvloei van ‘n beheerliggaam, wat grootliks afhanklik is van tydige betalings deur al die lede om die maandelikse verpligtinge; byvoorbeeld munisipale rekeninge vir waterverbruik, sekuriteit, die elektrisiteitsverbruik van gemeenskaplike areas en die gewone instandhouding van die eiendom na te kom, word ernstig benadeel deur wanbetalers. Waar ‘n beheerliggaam nie groot finansiële reserwes het om op te steun in die geval van wanbetaling deur die lede nie, kan ‘n paar wanbetalers ‘n onnodige finansiële las op ander lede plaas. Spesiale heffings is al in sommige gevalle ingestel om die beheerliggaam in staat te stel om die nodigste finansiële verpligtinge na te kom.

Baie trustees en bestuursagente neem soms die reg in eie hande ten einde die uitstaande bedrae in te vorder.  Van hierdie metodes sluit die (onwettige) afsny van elektrisiteits- en watertoevoer na die eenhede in.  In sommige gevalle het die beheerliggaam selfs reëls goedgekeur wat hierdie tipe optrede en aksies goedkeur.  Daar is legio regverdigings vir hierdie optrede deur trustees en bestuursagente, waarvan geen op goeie regsbeginsels berus of sal staan in die hof nie.

Waar trustees of bestuursagente die elektrisiteits- en/of watertoevoer van die betrokke eenheid (onwettig) afsny, of daarvoor voorsiening gemaak is in die reëls of nie, druis dit nie net in teen die eienaar se grondwetlike reg op water en teen die elektrisiteitswetgewing nie, maar is dit lynreg in botsing met die spesifieke bepalings van die Wet op Deeltitelskemas, Wet 95 van 1986 soos gewysig (“die Wet”). Hierdie standpunt is deur die howe bevestig.  Sodanige trustees en bestuursagente, en die trustees in hul persoonlike hoedanigheid, loop die risiko van ‘n aansoek deur die eienaar of okkupeerder teen die spoliëring van sulke dienste, of vir toegang met ‘n hofbevel vir onmiddellike aansluiting.   Die beheerliggaam of bestuursagent mag nie inbreuk maak op elektrisiteits- of watertoevoer aan ‘n eenheid nie.  ‘n Kostebevel ten gunste van die eienaar of okkupeerder, indien nie op ‘n bestrawwende skaal nie, rooi gesigte en baie vrae om te beantwoord op die volgende algemene vergadering, kan die lot van sulke trustees en die bestuursagent wees.

Die wet is onomwonde voorskriftelik in artikel 37 (2) en bepaal dat Trustees enige  hof, insluitende die Landdroshof, in ‘n aksie moet nader vir die verhaling van enige en alle bydraes gehef ingevolge artikel 37(1), wat kan insluit maandelikse heffings, spesiale heffings, rente, en regskoste op ‘n prokureur- en kliënteskaal. Nóg die trustees nóg die bestuursagent het enige keuse hieroor.

Tydige invorderingsoptrede teen eienaars wanneer wanbetaling geskied, is die beste verweer.  Die trustees moet derhalwe seker maak dat die aangestelde bestuursagent óf ‘n bewese invorderingsgeskiedenis óf ‘n gedetailleerde invorderingsplan het.  Ons is almal deeglik bewus daarvan dat die gereg sy eie gang gaan en dat dit soms maande kan neem voordat ‘n verstekvonnis toegestaan en ‘n lasbrief uitgereik word. Uitstel van die invorderingsproses vererger die probleem met die uitstaande heffingsrekening wat in ‘n oogwink ‘n kommerwekkende bedrag kan beloop, met ‘n gepaardgaande addisionele las vir betalende eienaars.

Trustees moet daarom maandelikse betalings wat ontvang word goed dophou en verseker dat wanbetalers onmiddelik en sonder versuim deur die bestuursagent aangespreek word.  As die wanbetaler volhard in sy optrede moet die aangeleentheid so spoedig moontlik oorhandig word aan ‘n bevoegde invorderingsprokureur.  Hoe gouer des te beter.  Die ou gesegde van “ver van jou goed naby jou skade” is in hierdie geval baie toepaslik.  Trustees moet verseker dat die bestuursagent spoedig en effektief aan enige wanbetaling aandag skenk, nie net in belang van hul eie eiendomsbelegging nie, maar ook die belang van ander eienaars in dieselfde deeltitelskema.

Lees gerus die uistpraak van Blieden R, met Serobe WR instemmend, in die aangeleentheid van  Queensgate Body Corporate v MJV Claesen gelewer op 26 November 1998 in die Witwatersrand Plaaslike Afdeling onder saaknommer A3076/1998, en die ander sake waarna daarin verwys word.

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.

Durbanse Hooggeregshof “like” betekening op Facebook

article4Facebook kan beskryf word as `n sosiale netwerk wat mense reg oor die wêreld toelaat om oor en weer met vriende, familie, kennisse, kollegas, en somtyds ook vreemdelinge te kommunikeer. Dié sosiale netwerk spog tans met meer as 9 biljoen gebruikers, waarvan 900 miljoen ten minste een keer `n maand hul rekening opdateer.

Alhoewel daar kritiek bestaan dat  Suid-Afrikaanse howe oor die algemeen skepties en somtyds traag is om ontwikkelinge van hierdie soort in oorweging te neem, is groot opspraak verwek toe Regter Ester Steyn in die Durbanse Hooggeregshof  betekening van `n hofkennisgewing deur middel van Facebook verwelkom het.

Hierdie dringende ex parte uitspraak volg nadat die verweerder se prokureur van rekord in die  aangeleentheid van CMC Woodworking Machinery (Pty) Ltd vs Pieter Odendaal Kitchens onttrek het en versuim het om `n alternatiewe adres, waar kennisgewing op die teenpartye beteken kon word, te verskaf. In hierdie stadium van die proses is pleitstukke reeds aan beide kante geruil en was die  partye afwagtend van `n beskikbare hofdatum.  Onnodig om te sê, was die eiser se prokureurs in `n  posisie geplaas waar hulle geen alternatiewe adres gehad het om die hofdokumente op die verweerder te beteken nie. Alle daaropvolgende pogings om  die verweerder ooreenkomstig die hofreëls te kontak, was onsuksesvol. Gevolglik het die eiser (applikant) `n dringende aansoek gebring vir vervangende betekening op die verweerder deur die plasing van `n persoonlike boodskap op sy Facebookblad.

In die lig van dié aansoek het Regter Steyn groot klem geplaas op die onlangse wysiging van die Eenvormige Hofreëls en meer spesifiek Reël 4A waarin bepalings van die Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 25 of 2005 geïnkorporeer is. Hierdie reël  maak dit moontlik vir litigante om hofdokumente te beteken per e-pos of faksimilee en is dit dan spesifiek ingevoer om te verseker dat die hofprosesse wel onder die betrokke party se aandag gebring word.

Die reëls maak verder voorsiening vir die toepaslike proses wat gevolg  moet word in gevalle waar betekening nie in die gewone gang van sake suksesvol uitgevoer kan word nie. Hierdie proses staan bekend as vervangende betekening. Die party wat poog om die hofdokumente te beteken moet aansoek om vervangende betekening by die hof doen en slegs as die hof oortuig is dat die betrokke metode van betekening voldoende sal wees en dat die tradisionele metodes van betekening nie effektief was nie, sal die hof toestemming verleen vir die spesifieke metode van betekening.

Die regters in die hof sal die volgende faktore in ag neem:

  • Aard van die eis
  • Gronde waarop die eis gebaseer is
  • Metodes van betekening reeds gebruik
  • Laaste adres van die verweerder
  • Dat die applikant die normale metodes van betekening probeer het, wat onsuksesvol was

Regter Steyn het bevind dat hoewel Facebook primêr as ’n sosiale netwerk dien, dit geregverdig is om af te lei dat dit ook ander nuttige funksies dien, soos bv. om individue op te spoor asook om noodsaaklike inligting te bekom.  Sy het beklemtoon dat elke aansoek volgens  meriete beoordeel moet word en volgens die aard van die dokument wat op die betrokke party bedien moet word.

Die Durbanse Hooggeregshof  het gevolglik verlof verleen aan die applikant om vervangende betekening met `n persoonlike Facebook-boodskap te doen.  Verder, om regsekerheid te bevorder, is die applikant gelas om die betrokke kennisgewing ook in `n plaaslike koerant te adverteer, sou die verweerder om die een of ander rede nie toegang tot enige elektroniese kommunikasietoestelle hê nie.

Betekening deur `n sosiale netwerkwebtuiste soos dié van Facebook, het verskeie voordele. Dit is algemeen bekend dat mense eerder hul Facebook-boodskappe sal lees as om die koerant te lees. ‘n Kennisgewing via Facebook is daarom meer gerig en sal daarom meer waarskynlik onder ‘n persoon se aandag kom as ‘n advertensie in ‘n koerant se regskennisgewings. Hierdie bevel word allerweë beskryf as ‘n pioniersuitspraak en Facebook-gebruikers in Suid-Afrika kan met genoegdoening “like” kliek.

NOTA AAN PROKUREURS:
Kyk- CMC Woodworking Machinery (Pty) Ltd v Pieter Odendaal Kitchens (6846/2006) [2012] ZAKZDHC 44; 2012 (5) SA 604 (KZD) (3 August 2012)

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.

Durban High Court “like” service via Facebook

article4Facebook can be described as a social network that provides people with the opportunity to connect and communicate with friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, and even strangers, around the world. The success and popularity of this social network is not in question when looking at their more than 9 billion users, of which 900 million check or update their account at least once a month.

Despite the general  criticism against  South African courts for being skeptical and sometimes slow to accommodate developments of this kind, widespread controversy occurred when a Durban High Court judge, Judge Ester Steyn, welcomed the service of a court process on the defendant`s Facebook social network page.

This urgent ex parte judgment followed after the defendant’s attorney of record withdrew  in the matter of CMC Woodworking Machinery (Pty) Ltd vs Pieter Odendaal Kitchens and failed  to provide the plaintiff`s attorneys with an alternative address where notice to the counter parties could be served.  At this stage of the process, pleadings had already been  exchanged on both sides and the parties awaited the allocation of a trial date. Needless to say, the plaintiff`s attorneys were  in the position where they had no alternative address to serve the court documents on the defendant.  All subsequent attempts to contact the defendant in accordance with the rules of court, proved unsuccessful. Consequently, the plaintiff (applicant) brought an urgent application for substituted service on the defendant`s personal Facebook page.

In view of  the application, Judge Steyn placed a great deal of emphasis on the recent amendment to the Uniform Court Rules, and more specifically Rule 4A in which provisions of the Electronic Communication Act 25 of 2005 were incorporated. This rule allows litigants to serve court documents by e-mail or fax and was specifically created to ensure that the court processes are brought to the attention of the relevant party.

Furthermore, these rules make provision for the appropriate  procedure to be followed in the event of unsuccessful service in the ordinary course of business. This process is called substituted service. The party who seeks to serve the court document must apply to the court for substituted service and only after  the court is satisfied that the particular method of service will be adequate and that the traditional  methods of service were not  effective, will a court grant leave for this type of service.

The judges in the courts will take the following into consideration:

  • Nature and extent of the claim
  • Grounds upon which the claim is based
  • Grounds upon which the court has jurisdiction
  • Method of service
  • Last known location
  • That the applicant has tried the usual methods and has tried to locate the respondent without success

Although Facebook is primarily used as a social network, according to Judge Steyn it is fair  to draw  the conclusion that this particular network is used for other useful functions such as tracking individuals as well as to obtain essential information.  Judge Steyn emphasized that each application must be decided on its own merits and on the type of document that needs to be served on the party concerned.

Leave was accordingly granted to the applicant for substituted service using a personal Facebook message. In addition, to promote legal certainty, the judge ordered that the notice be published in a local newspaper should the defendant, for some reason, not have access to any electronic communication devices.

Service using a social media website like Facebook has a number of advantages. Many Facebook users probably spend more time on Facebook than reading a newspaper. A notification via Facebook is therefore more targeted and would be more likely to reach a person’s attention than an ad in the legal classifieds.This order is widely described as a ground-breaking judgment in South-Africa, and Facebook users can click  “like” with satisfaction.

NOTE TO ATTORNEYS:
See- CMC Woodworking Machinery (Pty) Ltd v Pieter Odendaal Kitchens (6846/2006) [2012] ZAKZDHC 44; 2012 (5) SA 604 (KZD) (3 August 2012)

This article is a general information sheet and 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Internal News

nicolienblogNicolien Grobler

We have a new collections secretary at our Hermanus branch!! We welcome her to our family and hope that you will enjoy it here!!!

Birthdays:

Hermanus:

Matty Scholtz – 1 May
Jacques du Toit – 6 May
André du Toit (snr) – 22 May
Gerhard Louw – 27 May
Nita Dippenaar – 31 May

Caledon/ Gansbaai:

Charl Cilliers – 26 May
Luzette Human – 10 May

We wish those celebrating their birthdays this month a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May you be spoiled and have a great day!

Personeelnuus

nicolienblogNicolien Grobler

Ons Hermanus – tak het ‘n nuwe invorderings sekretaresse!! Ons heet jou welkom in ons familie en hoop dat jy dit hier terdeë sal geniet!!!

Verjaarsdae:

Hermanus:

Matty Scholtz – 1 Mei
Jacques du Toit – 6 Mei
André du Toit (snr) – 22 Mei
Gerhard Louw – 27 Mei
Nita Dippenaar – 31 Mei

Caledon/ Gansbaai:

Charl Cilliers – 26 Mei
Luzette Human – 10 Mei

Ons wens diegene wat hulle verjaarsdae die maand vier ‘n GELUKKIGE VERJAARSDAG toe en hoop dat julle baie bederf word en ‘n heerlike dag sal hê.