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MHI FRONT RUNNERS IN DEFAMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

MHI FRONT RUNNERS IN DEFAMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Compiled by Denver Titus 

MHI INVOLVED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMON LAW OF DEFAMATION INVOLVING PUBLICATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

On 21 November 2016 Judge Dennis Davis handed down judgement in the Western Cape High Court in the matter between WALDIS AND ANOTHER v VON ULMENSTEIN 2017 (4) SA 503 (WCC).

In this case an urgent application was instituted by Le Chocolatier, a producer of premium chocolate products, and its founder, Daniel Waldis (“the Applicants”), against Christiane Von Ulmenstein, represented at the hearing thereof by MHI Attorneys and Advocate Adam Brink. Von Ulmenstein is a blog writer and restaurant reviewer who writes generally about tourism, restaurants and wine, focusing on Cape Town and the winelands area. The relief the Applicants sought was an order to interdict her to remove the allegedly defamatory post made on her blog as it then was: www.whalecottage.com [now www.chrisvonulmenstein.com].

Extensive case law exists for instances of defamation published in traditional forms of publication such as newspapers and magazines. However, case law in respect of modern forms of publication such as Facebook, Twitter, and in the present case, blogs, is scant. These modern forms of publication represent a novelty in our law, which is largely undeveloped in terms of these forms of publication. Accordingly, MHI Attorneys is proud to have been part of the development of this novel area of South African law, which will be of use to future litigants.

Facts:

Von Ulmenstein’s blog post dated 23 July 2015 followed on an independent article published in July 2015 in Noseweek, a national magazine, which focused on allegations regarding the mislabelling by Le Chocolatier of its chocolates as ‘sugar-free’ which allegedly was not the case. Von Ulmenstein’s article focused on the same subject matter and highlighted how such practices may be life-threatening to diabetics. The article further challenged the labelling of said chocolates as organic – contending it was a fraudulent claim by Le Chocolatier. Von Ulmenstein further challenged whether Le Chocolatier’s chocolates were handmade. Von Ulmenstein wrote that these chocolate slabs were imported as chocolate bars from abroad and remade into slabs prior to being sold by Le Chocolatier. Her blog post lastly contained paragraphs of alleged financial difficulty Le Chocolatier faced at the time and described its founder as a fraud looking for business opportunities even at the expense of the health of its consumers.

The Applicants argued that the blog post was defamatory as it attempted to portray them as dishonest and fraudulent, because Von Ulmenstein had not properly verified the facts contained therein as accurate. The Applicants further argued that the blog post infringed their right to privacy and Le Chocolatier’s right to take part in day-to-day commercial activity without the fear of being unfairly defamed. Von Ulmenstein’s defence was that her blog post constitutes fair comment. Furthermore, the post is truthful and made in the public interest as it relates to public health.

The Applicants countered that von Ulmenstein cannot plead truth and public interest as a defence, because the information was already in the public domain due to publication by Noseweek, as aforementioned. The Applicants further contended that her post was untruthful and made solely with the intention to defame the Applicants.

Ruling:

Judge Davis held that the issue of whether a product is indeed sugar-free and diabetically friendly is a matter of public interest. The fact that the sugar content of Le Chocolatier’s chocolates had been published in Noseweek prior to Von Ulmenstein’s blog post, does not mean that Von Ulmenstein’s post was no longer in the public interest. Judge Davis further held, where there are persistent allegations that a product is not what it claims to be, it continues to be a matter of public interest.

In respect of a report submitted and relied upon by the Applicants regarding the sugar content of its chocolates, Judge Davis found the report to be ‘extremely vague’. A further report submitted and relied upon by the Applicants, compiled by the Cape Winelands District Municipality following an inspection of Le Chocolatier’s products, conducted in terms of s 82 of the National Health Act 61 of 2003, was held to show that there was some form of mislabelling of the Applicants’ products at some point in time, which necessitated relabelling. Accordingly, Judge Davis held that the defences of truth and public interest, as well as fair comment, could be relied upon by Von Ulmenstein in the circumstances.

However, Judge Davis found that parts of the blog post were beyond justifiable under the abovementioned defences and that these parts were accordingly defamatory. To this extent Judge Davis ordered that Von Ulmenstein delete the parts of the blog post relating to the chocolates being life-threatening to diabetics and relating to Le Chocolatier’s founder being a fraud who looks for business opportunities even at the expense of the health of his customers.

Von Ulmenstein was awarded costs in respect of a wasted hearing on 12 May 2016. However, no other award in respect of costs was made.

Conclusion:

The judgement represents an innovation in respect of the relief granted. Judge Davis opted to allow the entire post to remain published save for the above two offending sentences. Accordingly, Judge Davis did not consider the defamatory parts as having tainted the entirety of the blog post, and the publication of the remainder of the post was justifiable. Such an order is only possible with modern forms of publication which allow for subsequent editing thereof, as opposed to traditional forms of publication such as newspapers and magazines which require the entire article to be retracted.

In cases of defamation, the constitutional right to privacy and, where a juristic person, the right to take part in day-to-day commercial activity without the fear of being unfairly defamed, are at odds with the constitutional right to freedom of expression. This judgement favours freedom of expression, as it does not unduly censor the entire post. Instead, the judgement serves to indicate that there are limits to one’s right to freedom of expression and where these limits are crossed, the right to freedom of expression has been exercised unjustifiably and infringed the rights of another. To this extent, the courts will intervene.

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)

CAN SOMEONE RECORD ME WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?

CAN SOMEONE RECORD ME WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?

Over the past few months, we have seen videos being posted on social media of physical altercations, poor service delivery and racial slurs, but the victims of the videos and audible recordings are usually unaware that they are being recorded. The recordings are conducted without their permission and then shared. But is someone allowed to record you without being granted permission and the share those recordings?

Audio recording

Audio recording includes the recording of conversations conducted over the phone, recording someone speaking to a room full of people, and recording a direct conversation, without the other party’s permission. Recording without consent is against the law, unless

  • You are party to the communication;
  • You have written permission of one of the parties to the conversation;
  • The recording is in connection with the carrying on of business. 

Direct video recording

This is the recording of a person with whom you are having a face-to-face conversation. The video taping of someone without their consent is permissible because you are party to the conversation, much like audio recordings. Recording an altercation between you and someone else, or recording an altercation at an airport is legal due to where the conversation is occurring – a public place.

Section 4 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 70 of 2002 (RICA) defines that a person is party to the conversation if they are in audible presence of the conversation. If you are in an altercation in a vicinity where other people can hear you, they are permitted to film because they are party to the altercation, therefore in direct communication with you.

Indirect video recording

Indirect communication is a much wider category, which includes data, speech and moving images. Skype conversations, although they appear to be face-to-face, are included as indirect communication because it is communication through an online telecommunications service. Thus, you would need to either be one of the parties in the engagement, or have been given consent from one of the parties to record the video/messages.

When is it illegal?

  • If the recording is through an interceptive method such as “bugging” or a “tapping” a device;
  • Hiding to spy on one of the parties for recording purposes, due to the parties being unaware of your presence;
  • When you are in no way party to the conversation. Being party to the conversation is if you are the sender, the recipient, or any person included in the communication.

Exception: RICA permits recordings carried out by law enforcement personnel in certain circumstances.

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)

References:

Kevin Illes, A. (2017). Legal implications of secret recording. [online] Moneyweb. Available at: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/archive/legal-implications-of-secret-recording/ [Accessed 15 Jun. 2017].

Writer, S. and Writer, S. (2017). When you can – and can’t – legally record someone in South Africa. [online] Businesstech.co.za. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/general/167107/__trashed-65/ [Accessed 15 Jun. 2017].

CANCELLING A LEASE AGREEMENT EARLY

CANCELLING A LEASE AGREEMENT EARLY

If you want to end your contract early, this can only be done “in situations where the Consumer Protection Act or Rental Housing Act apply” – or if there’s a clause in the contract that allows for early cancellation, or if both parties agree to it.

If, on the other hand, one of the parties wants to cancel because the other is in breach of the contract, then certain notice periods come into effect – the first of which being, of course, that the aggrieved party is required to “give written notice for the breach to be remedied. Failure to remedy the breach in the stipulated time period, will entitle the innocent party to cancel the lease and (where relevant) claim damages suffered from the offending party.”

A tenant has the RIGHT to cancel a lease agreement, be it in the 1st month, 4th month or second-to-last month of the lease agreement. He cannot be ‘punished’ for doing this and the cancellation does not constitute a breach of the lease agreement.

What must an agent do if a tenant decides to cancel?

1. Obtain the cancellation in writing from the tenant.
2. Ensure the cancellation gives the requisite 20 business days’ notice.
3. Charge rental until the end of the 20 business days (even if this is not a full month’s rental).
4. Log on to TPN and end the lease as at the end of the 20 business days.
5. Keep in mind the lease now ends as at the end of that 20 business days.
6. Should the tenant remains in the premises a new lease MUST be signed as once cancelled, a lease cannot be revived at law. If you fail to do this, you essentially have no long-term lease in place.
7. Begin advertising the property immediately- the onus is on the agent/landlord to find a replacement.
8. Keep all invoices from the advertising as this is one of the costs you may pass along to the tenant in terms of a ‘reasonable cancellation penalty’.


What can an agent charge the tenant that cancels early?

The idea behind this reasonable cancellation penalty is not to penalise the tenant, but to recover any actual loss suffered by the landlord as a result of the cancellation. The following cost could be applicable:

  • Credit check costs for any prospective replacement tenants (even those who are not accepted);
  • Advertising costs (only the actual amounts on the invoices);
  • Rental – the exact number of days that the unit remains vacant after the tenant vacates.

It is important to keep in mind that all calculations of the penalty can only be made once a replacement tenant has been found. It must also be kept in mind that where a tenant cancels, for example, in month 10 or 11 of a 12-month lease, you cannot charge the tenant the full remainder of the lease as this would negate the cancellation. The principles behind cancellation penalties lie in our law of undue enrichment. A landlord/agent cannot make a financial gain or benefit off of a tenant’s cancellation.

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)

References:

http://www.privateproperty.co.za/advice/property/articles/how-to-cancel-a-residential-lease/3315

http://www.melcoproperties.co.za/template/ArticleDisplay.vm/articleid/2243

ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR): MEDIATION AND DIVORCE

ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR): MEDIATION AND DIVORCE

A4blThis article will briefly set out mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism and the use thereof in disputes which arise unnecessarily at a later stage in divorce proceedings.

Mediation can be defined as the process by which a mediator assists the parties with litigation to resolve the dispute between them by facilitating discussions between the parties, by assisting them in identifying issues, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise and generating options in an attempt to resolve the dispute. It must be noted that the mediator does not make a decision, even if requested to do so by the disputants. This can be differentiated from arbitration in that an arbitrator hears evidence and arguments in an adjudicative role and makes a decision as to the outcome.

Divorce is an area of law whereby recent developments have changed the approach to mediation. Previously, in the absence of a settlement agreement, issues such as children, maintenance and the division of assets could be left to the court. The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 (hereafter referred to as ‘the Act’) introduces mediation and in certain instances makes mediation a prerequisite. Section 33 of the Act states that if the co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights with regard to children are experiencing difficulties in exercising their responsibilities and rights, those persons must, before seeking the intervention of a court, first seek to agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of the child. In preparing this parenting plan the parties must seek the assistance of a family advocate, social worker, psychologist or mediation through a social worker or other suitably qualified person. The exact meaning of a ‘suitably qualified’ person is yet to be defined.

Acting Judge Brassey in his judgement in Brownlee v Brownlee in the South Gauteng High Court further stressed the need to rely on mediation in matrimonial disputes. The Judge voiced his unhappiness at the failure of both parties’ attorneys as they did not advise their clients to use mediation before settling the matter through the court. In line with this dissatisfaction the Judge capped the fees of the attorneys of both parties.

One cannot conclude that the judgement in the Brownlee case gave precedence to the use of mediation for the resolving of disputes surrounding divorces. However, one should consider the appropriateness of mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism. If encouraged from the onset it has the ability to promote the expeditious and cost effective resolution of disputes.

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.

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ALTERNATIEWE GESKILBESLEGTING: BEMIDDELING EN EGSKEIDING

ALTERNATIEWE GESKILBESLEGTING: BEMIDDELING EN EGSKEIDING

A4blHierdie artikel sal kortliks bemiddeling as ‘n geskilbeslegtingsmeganisme verduidelik, asook die gebruik daarvan in onnodige geskille wat later in die egskeidingsgeding ontstaan.

Bemiddeling kan beskryf word as die proses waardeur ‘n bemiddelaar die opponerende partye deur middel van litigasie help om geskille tussen hulle te skik deur die fasilitering van bespreking tussen die partye. Die bemiddelaar help ook deur die identifisering van kwessies, prioriteite en areas van moontlike kompromie, en die genereer van opsies in ‘n poging om die geskil op te los. Dit moet in ag geneem word dat die bemiddelaar nie ‘n besluit oor die geskil neem nie, selfs al versoek die partye hom om dit te doen. Dit verskil van arbitrasie daarin dat die arbiter getuienis en argumente van die partye aanhoor in ‘n beoordelaarsrol en later ‘n besluit oor die uitkoms van die dispuut neem.

Egskeiding is ‘n deel van die reg waar onlangse verwikkelinge die benadering tot bemiddeling verander het. Voorheen het die hof oor kwessies soos kinders, onderhoud en die verdeling van bates beslis waar daar nie ‘n skikkingsooreenkoms tussen die partye was nie. Die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 (hierna verwys as ‘die Wet’) stel bemiddeling bekend en maak dit in sekere gevalle ‘n voorvereiste. Artikel 33 van die Wet skryf voor dat die mede-houers van ouerlike pligte en regte oor kinders tydens egskeidingsgedinge, moet poog om eers saam te stem oor ‘n ouerskapsplan wat die uitoefening van hulle pligte en regte bepaal, alvorens hulle ‘n hof nader. In die voorbereiding van sodanige ouerskapsplan moet die partye gebruik maak van die bystand van ‘n gesinsadvokaat, maatskaplike werker, sielkundige of bemiddeling deur ‘n maatskaplike werker of gekwalifiseerde persoon. Die betekenis van ‘gekwalifiseerde persoon’ is nog nie deur ons howe gedefineer nie.

Waarnemende Regter Brassey het in sy uitspraak in Brownlee v Brownlee in die Suid-Gautengse Hooggeregshof die belangrikheid van bemiddeling in huweliksgedinge en geskille oor kinderregte beklemtoon. Die regter het sy ontevredenheid oor die mislukking van die twee prokureurs uitgespreek wat nie hul kliënte aangeraai het om bemiddeling te gebruik voor hulle hof toe gegaan het nie. Hy het gevolglik die fooie van beide partye se prokureurs verminder.

Die uitspraak in die Brownlee saak beslis nie dat voorkeur aan bemiddeling gegee moet word om geskille rakende egskeidings te besleg nie. Die geskiktheid van bemiddeling as meganisme om geskille by te lê, moet egter na waarde geskat word. Indien dit reeds vroeg in die geskil geïmplementeer word, kan die dispute op ‘n doeltreffende en koste-effektiewe wyse opgelos 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.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

HOE OM JOU SKULD TE BESTUUR

HOE OM JOU SKULD TE BESTUUR

A1bAlecia het groot finansiële probleme gehad; sy het te veel skuld gehad en haar uitgawes het haar inkomste oorskry. Sy het besluit om ‘n nuwe bankrekening oop te maak waarin haar salaris betaal kon word, wat sou verseker dat sy haar salaris kan bestuur voor haar maandelikse debietorders afgaan.

Alecia het gedink dit sou ‘n goeie plan wees om eers die klein skuld af te betaal en dan te begin met die groter skuld. Ongelukkig het dit veroorsaak dat daar geen betalings gemaak is op haar huislening en kredietkaart nie en die bank het gedreig om haar op die swartlys te plaas en haar ‘n dagvaarding te stuur . Die bank het toe ‘n aansoek in die hof gebring vir ‘n bevel wat dit verpligtend maak vir haar om die verskuldigde bedrag te betaal; hierdie bevel word ‘n Besoldigingbeslagleggingsbevel genoem. So ‘n bevel word kragtens a. 65J van die Wet op Landdroshowe  Wet 32 ​​van 1944 toegestaan en beveel ‘n werkgewer (genoem die beslagskuldenaar) om aftrekkings van ‘n skuldenaar se salaris of lone te maak en hierdie bedrae aan die skuldeiser of sy/haar prokureurs oor te betaal. Hierdie bedrae was veel groter as wat Alecia kon bekostig en dit het haar gelaat met geen inkomste vir die res van haar maandelikse skuldverpligtinge nie. Dit het haar in ‘n erger finansiële posisie as voorheen geplaas.

As Alecia vroeër geweet het van skuldberading sou sy nie in die posisie wees waarin sy haar nou bevind het nie. Dit is belangrik om mense voor te lig oor skuldberading, veral in ‘n land waar skuld  so maklik gemaak kan word maar so moeilik is om terug te betaal. Skuldberading is ‘n proses om verbruikers wat skuldprobleme ervaar en sukkel om hul maandelikse verpligtinge na te kom, te help deur die verskaffing van begrotingsadvies, herstrukturering van betalings, onderhandeling namens hulle met kredietverskaffers, monitering van hul betalings, en die verskaffing van nasorgdiens.

Dit is die Skuldberader [wat by die die Nasionale Kredietreguleerder (NKR)  geregistreer is] se taak om te bepaal of die verbruiker se skuldlas te groot is deur inkomste en uitgawes te weeg en dan statutêre en nie-statutêre aftrekkings asook bestaande maandelikse skuldbetalings in berekening te bring. Indien die berekening ‘n negatiewe balans toon word die verbruiker oorverskuldig verklaar. Die skuldberader maak ‘n voorstel wat die skuldbetalings verlaag en die betalingkaskades  (die getal maande waarbinne die die skuld, insluitend rente, afbetaal moet word) verhoog, om die verbruiker in staat te stel om sy/haar skuld te bestuur en tegelykertyd af te betaal.  ‘n Bevel word dan deur die hof toegestaan ​​en aan die kredietverskaffers gestuur en die verbruiker kan dan nie meer enige nuwe skuld aangaan nie. Sodra die skuld afbetaal is word die verbruiker van ‘n klaringsertifikaat voorsien en kan die persoon sy/haar ekstra inkomste gebruik om goedere met kontant te koop.

Ongelukkig was dit te laat vir Alecia aangesien regstappe reeds teen haar geneem was. Dieselfde geld indien ‘n beëindigingbrief gestuur word kragtens a.129 van die Nasionale Kredietwet. Dit is belangrik vir mense om te weet dat daar ‘n manier is om hul skuld te bestuur, maar hulle moet erken dat hulle in finansiële moeilikheid is voordat hulle in ‘n situasie soos Alecia geplaas word . Dit kan dalk te laat vir Alecia wees, maar hopelik sal dit nie te laat wees vir ander nie.

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

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DEBT

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DEBT

A1bAlecia had big financial problems; she had too much debt and her expenses outweighed her income. She decided to open a new bank account into which her salary could be paid, which would ensure that she could manage her salary before her monthly debit orders went off.

Alecia thought it would be a good idea to pay her small debts off first and then begin with the larger debt. Unfortunately this resulted in her not making any payments at all on her home loan and credit card and the bank threatened to blacklist her and sent her a summons. The bank then made an application in court for an order that made it compulsory for her to pay the amount which the bank set out; this order is called an Emoluments Attachment Order (EAO) or garnishee order.  An EAO is granted in terms of s. 65J of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 32 of 1944 and orders an employer (referred to as a garnishee) to make deductions from a debtor’s salary or wages and pay these over to the creditor or its attorneys. This amount was much greater than Alecia could afford and left her with no income for the rest of her monthly debt payments. She was thus put in a worse financial position than before.

If Alecia had known about debt counselling sooner she would not be stuck in the position she is now facing. It is important to educate people about debt counselling, especially in a country where debt is granted so easily and yet so hard to pay back. Debt counselling is a process of assisting consumers that are experiencing debt-related problems and are having difficulty making their current monthly payments, by providing budget advice, restructuring their payments, negotiating on their behalf with credit providers, monitoring their payments and providing aftercare services.

It is the duty of the Debt Counsellor [who is registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR)] to assess whether the consumer is over-indebted by weighing the income and expenses and then taking into account statutory and non-statutory deductions as well as existing monthly debt payments. If the calculation results in a negative balance, the consumer is declared over-indebted. The debt counsellor provides a proposal that lowers the debt payments and increases the cascades (the number of months allowed for repayment of the debt, inclusive of interest), in order for the consumer to be able to manage his debt while paying it off at the same time. An order is then granted in court and sent to the credit providers, and the consumer can no longer incur any new debt. Once the debt is paid off, the consumer is given a clearance certificate and he/she has all that extra income to buy goods in cash.

Unfortunately, it was too late for Alecia as legal action was already taken against her. The same applies if a termination letter is sent in terms of s.129 of the National Credit Act. It is important for people to know that there is a way to manage their debt, but they need to acknowledge that they are in financial trouble before they are placed in a situation like Alecia. It may be too late for Alecia, but hopefully it won’t be too late for others.

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.

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ENTERTAINMENT AT YOUR LOCAL RESTAURANT OR NURSERY: WHO BEARS LIABILITY FOR YOUR CHILD’S INJURY?

ENTERTAINMENT AT YOUR LOCAL RESTAURANT OR NURSERY: WHO BEARS LIABILITY FOR YOUR CHILD’S INJURY?

article3bl-NovemberWe often hear of accidents in which a child or toddler is injured. Has this become something which society accepts as the norm… that accidents do happen?

Who bears liability in this case and who is responsible for safety in these situations?

Accidents happen so quickly, the kind which turns a day of excitement into a nightmare filled with horror. These types of freak accidents can happen in the blink of an eye if the necessary steps are not taken to prevent them.

Take your local restaurant as an example. Nowadays every restaurant has some sort of playroom or entertainment area, which is available for the use of children and toddlers. These entertainment areas have now also become popular at nurseries and even at functions such as weddings or parties, in order to keep the youngsters entertained.

The question remains – who is to be held responsible for ensuring the safety of all at these entertainment places? What is the legal position today in South Africa?

In order to determine the legal position we have to relate to some practical examples, thus we will make use of the example where entertainment is offered at local nurseries or restaurants, as well as at functions. The Children’s Act will find application hereto.

Section 140 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 finds application if:

  1. the place of entertainment is accessible through the use of doors, stairs or even lifts and this includes entrance by mechanical means;
  2. the majority of the people entering the area are children; and
  3. the number of people, including children, entering the premises, is more than 50 at a time.

In the abovementioned case the person providing the entertainment must take notice of the measures to be applied as set out in the Commentary on the Children’s Act, with specific reference to Section 140 thereof.

The person providing entertainment in an area qualifying in terms of the above, is also required to know how many people, including children, can be accommodated on the premises, and must also ensure that there is a sufficient number of attendants available to assist in ensuring that too many children do not enter the area of entertainment, alternatively ensure, upon admittance, that it is completely safe for them to do so.

Should the number of people (including children), exceed 50 in total, it remains the responsibility of the person providing the entertainment to ensure that all the reasonable steps and precautionary measures are taken to ensure the safety of the children and other people at such a place of entertainment, in order to ensure the safety of all at all times.

I refer again to the example of the restaurant or function. These places of entertainment sometimes accommodate large numbers of children at a time, even toddlers. This would require strict adherence to the safety measures set out.

A children’s party, where a jumping castle is available, is another example. For instance, it is the birthday party of Mr X’s daughter, and Mrs Y has offered to set up her jumping castle at the party for the entertainment of the children. In this case it would remain the responsibility of Mrs Y to ensure that all safety measures are complied with and she, as host of the entertainment, will be held liable to ensure the safety of the children. Should Mrs Y not be held liable for some reason, the liability to ensure the safety of the children will fall upon Mrs Y’s principal, as the “agent of the entertainment”.

It remains of utmost importance for the presenter or agent of the entertainment to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure the safety of the children and even the toddlers, insofar as it is possible. In situations such as these, where large numbers of children are accommodated, stricter measures of safekeeping will be demanded.

This brings us to another requirement. The requirement that the movement of all participants to the specific entertainment must also be monitored at all times.

The overall requirements to qualify in terms of Section 140 create the impression that the section and the measures to be taken only find application in situations where entertainment is presented indoors. This is in fact not the case. Outdoor entertainment areas, where access is controlled, also fall under these criteria.

Outdoor areas such as beaches and open fields will obviously not form part of or fall under the criteria, seeing that there is no regulation of access to such places.

In summary we can thus conclude that the responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of the children making use of the entertainment areas will be that of the “entertainment organiser “or “entertainment manager”, and that this person should take the following steps:

  1. determine the maximum safe accommodation space for the number of children or people who are expected to be entertained;
  2. ensure that extra children do not enter such premises unless it is safe;
  3. control the movement of all children within the area; and
  4. ensure that overall safety is upheld within the vicinity of the entertainment area and the specific area at all times.

The problem is that things can still go wrong and this brings us to the steps that can be taken against the offender.

Even though there are currently no criminal sanctions envisaged or determined, measures can still be implemented against the offender.

A person who is duly authorised by the municipal authority of the area may enter an enclosure at any given time in order to ensure that all the safety measures are complied with. If they are found not to be compliant, such duly authorised person may withdraw any licence that was granted/issued to permit the entertainment that is offered.

Other measures include municipal health and safety by-laws which may be invoked in order to disallow the entertainment until the necessary safety measures are taken.

And finally, there is always the option of instituting a delictual claim against the offender in the event of injury or damages suffered as a result of negligence on the part of the offender.

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.

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VERMAAK BY JOU GUNSTELING PLAASLIKE RESTAURANT OF KWEKERY: WIE IS AANSPREEKLIK VIR JOU KIND SE SEERKRY?

VERMAAK BY JOU GUNSTELING PLAASLIKE RESTAURANT OF KWEKERY: WIE IS AANSPREEKLIK VIR JOU KIND SE SEERKRY?

article3bl-NovemberOns hoor dikwels van fratsongelukke waarin ‘n kind of ‘n kleuter beseer is. Het hierdie iets geword wat die samelewing as vanselfsprekend aanvaar?

Wie is aanspreeklik en wie  is  verantwoordelik vir veiligheid in hierdie situasies?

Ongelukke gebeur so vinnig, die soort ongelukke wat ‘n dag van opwinding en vreugde in ‘n nagmerrie gevul met afgryse verander. Hierdie tipe fratsongelukke kan binne ‘n oogwink gebeur indien die nodige stappe nie geneem word om hulle te verhoed nie.

Neem jou plaaslike restaurant as ‘n voorbeeld. Deesdae het amper elke restaurant ‘n speelkamer of vermaaklikheidsarea wat tot die beskikking van kinders of kleuters gestel word. Hierdie tipe vermaaklikheidsarea het selfs begin populêr word in kwekerye en by funksies soos troues of partytjies, ten einde die jongelinge besig te hou.

Die vraag bly egter – wie word verantwoordelik gehou vir die versekering van veiligheid by hierdie vermaaklikheidsareas? Wat is die regsposisie vandag in Suid-Afrika?

Om die regsposisie te bepaal moet daar na praktiese voorbeelde gekyk word, dus kyk ons na die voorbeeld van die vermaak aangebied by plaaslike restaurante en kwekerye en ook by funksies. Die Kinderwet sal hier van toepassing wees.

Artikel 140 van die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 is van toepassing indien:

  1. die plek waar die vermaak aangebied word toeganklik is met deure, trappe, hysers of ‘n ander tipe meganiese toegang;
  2. die meerderheid mense wat toegang verkry, kinders is; en
  3. die persone, kinders ingesluit, wat die perseel binnegaan, meer as 50 is.

In die bogemelde geval moet die persoon wat die vermaak aanbied kennis neem van die maatreëls wat vervat word in die Kommentaar op die Kinderwet, spesifiek wat betref Artikel 140.

Die persoon wat vermaak aanbied in ‘n area wat kragtens die bogenoemde vereistes kwalifiseer, moet ingelig wees oor die getal mense, insluitend kinders, wat op die perseel gehuisves kan word en moet ook verseker dat daar ‘n voldoende getal helpers beskikbaar is om toe te sien dat nie te veel kinders die area binnegaan nie. Alternatiewelik moet daar ten tye van toegang verseker word dat dit volkome veilig is om so te doen.

Sou die getal mense (insluitend kinders) wél die getal van 50 oorskry, bly dit die verantwoordelikheid van die aanbieder van die vermaak om alle redelike stappe te doen en voorsorgmaatreëls te tref om die veiligheid van die kinders en ander mense in die vermaaklikheidsarea, deurentyd te verseker.

Ek verwys weer na die voorbeeld van ‘n restaurant of funksie. Hierdie vermaaklikheidsplekke huisves soms groot getalle kinders en selfs kleuters, en dit vereis streng nakoming van die veiligheidsmaatreëls.

Nog ‘n voorbeeld is ‘n kinderpartytjie waar ‘n springkasteel beskikbaar gestel word.  Gestel mnr. X se dogter verjaar en mev. Y bied aan om haar springkasteel by die partytjie op te rig vir die vermaak van die kinders. In hierdie geval is dit mev. Y se verantwoordelikheid om toe te sien dat daar aan alle veiligheidsvereistes voldoen word en sy, as aanbieder van die vermaak, sal  aanspreeklik wees vir die veiligheid van die kinders. Sou mev. Y om die een of ander rede nie aanspreeklik gehou word nie sal die verantwoordelikheid om die veiligheid van die kinders te verseker neerkom op haar volmaggewer as die “agent van die vermaak”.

Dit bly uiters belangrik dat die aanbieder of agent van die vermaak alle redelike stappe moet doen om na die veiligheid van die kinders en selfs die kleuters om te sien en sover moontlik hul veiligheid te verseker. In situasies soos hierdie, waar groot getalle kinders betrokke is, sal strenger veiligheidsmaatreëls vereis word.

Dit bring ons by nog ‘n vereiste, naamlik dat die beweging van deelnemers aan die spesifieke vermaak, deurentyd gemonitor moet word.

Die vereistes om kragtens Artikel 140 te kwalifiseer skep die indruk dat die artikel en sy vereistes slegs van toepassing is op situasies waar vermaak binnenshuis aangebied word maar dit is nie die geval nie. Buitelug-vermaaklikheidsareas waar toegang beheer word is ook aan hierdie kriteria onderhewig.

Buitelugareas soos strande en oop veld word vanselfsprekend uitgesluit aangesien toegang hiertoe nie beheer of beperk word nie.

Opsommend kan ons dus tot die gevolgtrekking kom dat die verpligting om die veiligheid en beskerming van die kinders wat gebruik maak van die vermaaklikheidsareas te verseker, dié is van die “vermaakorganiseerder” of die ”vermaakbestuurder” en dat hierdie persoon die volgende maatreëls moet tref:

  1. bepaal die maksimum veilige ruimte wat nodig is om die getal kinders en ander mense wat na verwagting die geleentheid sal bywoon, te huisves;
  2. verseker dat ekstra kinders nie toegelaat word tensy dit veilig is nie;
  3. beheer die beweging van die kinders in die area;
  4. verseker dat algehele veiligheid deurentyd gehandhaaf word in die omgewing van die vermaaklikheidsarea en binne die area self.

Daar is egter steeds die gevaar dat iets kan skeefloop en dit bring ons by die stappe wat teen die oortreder gedoen kan word, hoewel daar tans geen kriminele sanksies vasgestel is of in die vooruitsig gestel word nie.

Enige persoon wat behoorlik daartoe gemagtig is deur die munisipale owerheid van die betrokke gebied mag te enige tyd ‘n omheining binnegaan om te verseker dat daar aan alle veiligheidsmaatreëls voldoen word. Sou dit blyk dat daar nie aan die maatreëls voldoen word nie mag die persoon enige lisensie wat uitgereik is om die vermaak te magtig, terugtrek.

Ander maatreëls sluit in munisipale veiligheids- en gesondheidsverordeninge wat toegepas kan word om die aanbied van die geleentheid te verbied totdat die nodige veiligheidsmaatreëls getref is.

Laastens mag, in die geval van besering of skade wat gely word as gevolg van nalatigheid, ‘n deliktuele eis teen die oortreder ingestel 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.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

BULLIES BEWARE

BULLIES BEWARE

article2bl-NovemberSipho Swart is continually being called gay and other related names by a group of people at the local taxi rank. He was recently pushed to the floor by one of these members of the group.

Roelien van der Merwe was distraught when she found out there is a website containing terrible comments about her. It was talking about her weight and said things along the lines that she was dirty. The website invited others to become actively be involved with bashing her.

For a long time, victims of harassment (harassment includes abusive electronic communication, stalking and bullying), have battled with behaviour that violated their rights but that was not considered criminal and therefore could not be punished by law.

The long awaited Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011 came into operation on 27 April 2013. Under the Act, harassment is not limited to physical and verbal abuse. People who receive threats or unwanted attention via social media and text messages may also apply for a protection order.

Who is protected?

The Act makes it possible for anyone who feels harassed to approach the court without a legal representative and apply for a protection order.

A child under the age of 18, without the assistance of his/her parents, or a person on behalf of a child, may apply for a protection order.

If a person is not able to apply for a protection order for himself, another person who has a real interest in stopping the harassment can apply for a protection order on the harassed person’s behalf.

What protection is offered?

The Act allows for a special process by which an initial court order is made without the immediate knowledge of the person who is harassing the complainant. The order is based on the complainant’s side of the matter only. The Court will immediately grant the order where it is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence that the complainant is being or may be harassed and that harm is or may be suffered if the protection order isn’t granted immediately.

A future date is then arranged for the person against whom the protection order is sought to oppose the interim protection order being made a final order of court.

In addition, a protection order can be tailored to the needs of the complainant in his/her specific situation. This means that the court has the power to prohibit a person from engaging in harassment or committing any act specified in the protection order.

A warrant of arrest may be issued at the same time that the protection order is granted. If the person contravenes the protection order by continuing to harass the complainant, that person may be immediately arrested.

Failure to comply with the final protection order is a criminal offence and the transgressor may be liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

How do I apply for a protection order?

The complainant must apply for a protection order by completing an application form at any magistrate`s court where he/she lives or works or any magistrate’s court where the instigator of the harassment lives or works.

The complainant is required to set out the reasons why a protection from harassment order is sought and to provide detailed descriptions of all incidents of harassment he/she has experienced.

The complainant is also able to request that the specific acts committed by the person causing the harassment be listed in the protection order, as well as to request the court to impose any additional conditions necessary to protect the complainant and provide for his/her safety and well-being.

In order to protect the complainant, the physical home or work address of the complainant will be omitted from the protection order provided to the perpetrator.

Bullies will now think twice before sending sexually offensive and other abusive material, as the long arm of the law will be effective in dealing with those who hide behind anonymity.

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.

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