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Month: October 2013

JURISDIKSIE VAN HOWE IN SAKE WAAR MAATSKAPPYE BETROKKE IS

JURISDIKSIE VAN HOWE IN SAKE WAAR MAATSKAPPYE BETROKKE IS

article4bl-OctoberTradisioneel en onder die vorige Maatskappywet kon ‘n maatskappy ‘n geregistreerde adres en ‘n hoofplek van besigheid hê.  ‘n Maatskappy kon byvoorbeeld van een adres af sy besigheid bedryf en ook ‘n geregistreerde adres by sy ouditeure hê.

Kragtens die 1973-Maatskappywet het enige afdeling van die Hooggeregshof waar ‘n maatskappy ‘n geregistreerde adres of ‘n hoofplek van besigheid het, jurisdiksie gehad om ‘n saak aan te hoor.   Meer as een hof kon gevolglik jurisdiksie hê in verrigtinge waar ‘n maatskappy betrokke was.

Die nuwe 2008- Maatskappywet wat die 1973 Wet in ‘n groot mate herroep, het nie ‘n soortgelyke bewoording wat voorsiening maak vir meer as een adres nie.  In die saak van Sibakhulu Construction (Edms) Bpk v Wedgewood Village Golf Country Estate (Edms) Bpk (Nedbank tree tussenbeide) 2013 (1) SA 191 was die Wes-Kaapse Hoërhof gemoeid met die vraag watter hof kragtens die nuwe Wet jurisdiksie sal hê waar ‘n maatskappy ‘n geregistreerde adres het wat verskil van die hoofplek van besigheid.

Die saak het gehandel oor ondernemingsredding- en likwidasieverrigtinge.  Die Hof het daarop gewys dat Artikel 128 van die Wet slegs verwys na “…die Hooggeregshof…”  Hierdie bewoording impliseer dat slegs een hof jurisdiksie oor ‘n maatskappy sal hê en nie meer as een hof soos in die vorige Wet nie.  In sy oorweging van die saak het die Hof aandag geskenk aan die interpretasie van die nuwe Wet.

Artikel 23(3) van die nuwe Wet bepaal spesifiek dat ‘n maatskappy deurentyd ten minste een kantoor moet onderhou en die adres daarvan, of indien die maatskappy meer as een kantoor het, die adres van sy hoofkantoor, moet registreer. Ingevolge die nuwe Wet sal hierdie kantoor dus die maatskappy se geregistreerde kantoor wees.  Artikel 23 stel dit ook duidelik dat die kantoor deur die maatskappy self beheer moet word terwyl die daaropvolgende artikel aantoon watter dokumentêre rekords by die adres gehou moet word.  Die Hof het opgemerk dat die nuwe Wet die gebruik behou van ‘n geregistreerde adres waarmee die buitewêreld kontak kan maak.

Ongelukkig het die nuwe Wet nie “hoofkantoor” gedefinieer nie maar die hof het opgemerk dat met die nagaan van die Wet dit duidelik is dat die bedoeling was om ‘n plek aan te dui waar die maatskappy se besigheidsadministrasie geleë is.  Die Hof was van mening dat hierdie adres ook die hoofplek van besigheid van die maatskappy moet wees.  Die maatskappy se hoofplek van besigheid en geregistreerde kantoor moet gevolglik by dieselfde adres wees.

Die Hof het ook verwys na Artikel 7 van die Wet wat stel dat die bedoeling van die Wet is om voorsiening te maak vir ‘n voorspelbare en effektiewe omgewing vir die doeltreffende regulering van maatskappye.  Die Hof het die mening gehuldig dat, om uitvoering aan die bedoeling van die Wet soos uiteengesit in Artikel 7 te gee, dit volg dat ‘n maatskappy kragtens Artikel 23 slegs by sy geregistreerde adres gehuisves kan wees, wat beteken dat slegs ‘n enkele hof jurisdiksie het.

Maatskappye moet kennis neem van hierdie uitspraak en seker maak dat hul hoofplek van besigheid as hul geregistreerde adres geregistreer 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.

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JURISDICTION OF COURTS IN MATTERS INVOLVING COMPANIES

JURISDICTION OF COURTS IN MATTERS INVOLVING COMPANIES

article4bl-OctoberTraditionally, and under the previous Companies Act, a company could have a principal place of business and a registered office.  A company could, for instance, conduct its business at one office and also have a registered office with its auditors.

In terms of the 1973 Companies Act any division of the High Court where a company’s registered office or its principal place of business was located, would have jurisdiction.  More than one Court could, as a consequence, have jurisdiction in proceedings where a company was involved.

The new 2008 Companies Act, which repealed to a large extent the 1973 Act, does not have a similar wording that provides for more than one address.  In the matter of Sibakhulu Construction (Pty) Ltd v Wedgewood Village Golf Country Estate (Pty) Ltd (Nedbank Intervening) 2013 (1) SA 191 the Western Cape High Court dealt with the question of which Court would have jurisdiction where a company has a registered address different from its principal place of business.

The matter revolved around business rescue proceedings and winding up proceedings. The Court remarked that Section 128 of the Act makes reference to only “…the High Court…”  This wording denotes that a single Court would have jurisdiction over a company, and not more than one Court as in the previous Act.  In dealing with the matter the Court considered the interpretation of the new Act.

Section 23(3) of the new Act specifically states that a company must continually maintain at least one office and register the address of its office or of its principal office if the company has more than one office. This office will, under the new Act, be the company’s registered office.  Section 23 makes it clear that this office must be maintained by the company itself and the following Section deals with documentary records to be kept at the address.  The Court remarked that the new Act retained the institution of a registered office with which the outside world could make contact.

Unfortunately the Act does not define “principal office” but the Court remarked that, from a reading of the Act, it is clear that the intention is to denote the place where the administrative business of the company is centred.  It follows, the Court suggested, that this office should also be the principal place of business. The Court concluded that the principal place of business and the registered office have to be at the same address under the new Act.

Reference was further made to Section 7 of the new Act where it is stated that the purpose of the Act is to provide a “predictable and effective environment for the efficient regulation of companies”.  The Court held the view that to give effect to the purpose of the Act as set out in Section 7 it would follow that, in terms of Section 23, a company can only reside at its registered office, which means that only a single court can have jurisdiction.

Companies should be aware of this judgment and make sure that they register their principal place of business as their registered address.

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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HUISEIENAARSVERENIGINGS: VORDER DIE UITSTAANDE HEFFINGS IN!

HUISEIENAARSVERENIGINGS: VORDER DIE UITSTAANDE HEFFINGS IN!

article3bl-OctobersIn 2010 het die Konferensie van Registrateurs van Aktes ‘n resolusie uitgereik waarvolgens daar nie aan die klaringsertifikaat-voorwaarde in die titelakte voldoen hoef te word in die geval van ‘n gedwonge verkoping, ten einde die eiendom in die naam van die koper te kan registreer nie.  Hierdie gedwonge verkopings is meestal in die geval van insolvensie.

Die resolusie is na hewige teenstand herroep en die implementering daarvan beëindig.

In drie verskillende sake wat onlangs voor die howe gebring is, is dit duidelik gemaak dat die status quo nie onbestrede gaan bly nie.

Huiseienaarsverenigings het deur voorwaardes in die titelaktes van lede, verseker dat lidmaatskapvereistes en die voldoening daaraan verpligtend is.  Van die generiese vereistes sluit in die verpligte verkryging van ‘n klaringsertifikaat van die vereniging wat die nakoming van die vereistes gestel in die Memorandum van Inkorporasie of, waar nog van toepassing, die Memorandum van Inkorporasie en Assosiasie, bevestig.

Die meeste huiseienaarsverenigings skryf voor dat alle agterstallige bedrae wat gehef is  ten volle vereffen moet word voordat sodanige sertifikaat uitgereik word.  Omdat die koper van die eiendom nie verantwoordelik gehou kan word vir die betaling van die agterstallige gelde nie, word dit deur die insolvente boedel betaal. Diegene wat die status quo teenstaan voer aan dat sodanige titelaktevoorwaardes die huiseienaarsverenings inderwaarheid tot die status van preferente skuldeisers in die insolvente boedel verhef.

Alhoewel hierdie ‘n gevestigde besigheidspraktyk is, is die voordeel deur die verenigings vir hulself geskep, nou in die spervuur.

Drie onlangse sake het die status quo uitgedaag.

In die eerste saak, die van Cowin NO en Ander v Kyalami Estate Homeowners Association en Ander (11377/12) [2013] ZAGPJHC 121, bevind BA Mashile R op 25 Februarie 2013 in die Suid-Gautengse Hoërhof dat die voorwaardes soos vervat in die titelakte gehandhaaf moet word.  Die voorwaarde vir ‘n klaringsertifikaat is bevind as ‘n reële reg en kan teen die res van die wệreld afgedwing word.

Die hof het verder bevind dat, deur die reële reg van die huiseienaarsvereniging te erken, die status van die vereniging nie verwar of verander word sover dit die concursus creditorum aangaan nie.  Die vereniging bly ‘n konkurrente krediteur maar het die reg om ‘n keuse te maak tussen die indiening en bewys van sy eis, of die uitoefening van sy reg wat deur die titelaktevoorwaarde verleen word om die bedrag verskuldig te verhaal uit die koste van die verkoop van die eiendom.

In die tweede saak, die van Koka NO en Ander v Willow Waters Home Owners Association (Pty) Ltd en Ander (20361/12) [2013] ZAGPPHC 167, het AJ Bam WR sy uitspraak op 13 June 2013 in die Noord Gautengse Hoë hof gelewer.

Die uitspraak het gehandel oor die regte van die huiseienaarsvereniging soos vervat in die titelakte en die vraag of sulke regte reële regte (regte afdwingbaar teen die res van die wệreld), of persoonlike regte (regte wat net afdwingbaar is teen die ander kontrakterende party) is.

Die hof het twee vrae oorweeg ten einde die aard van die huiseienaarsvereniging se reg vas te stel.

Eerstens was die vraag wat die bedoeling van die persoon was met die skep van die reële reg.  Was dit die bedoeling om die huidige eienaar van die eiendom en ook die opvolgers in titel, te bind?

Die tweede vraag was of die aard van die reg wat geskep is sodanig is dat die registrasie daarvan tot gevolg gehad het dat dit die eiendomsreg van die eiendom waarteen dit geregistreer is, verminder (“subtraction from dominium”).

Die Noord-Gautengse Hoërhof  het bevind dat die huiseienaarsvereniging nie ‘n reële reg het nie, hoewel die hof erken het dat die voorwaardes vervat in die titelakte wel bindend sal wees op die opvolgers in titel van die eiendom. Die feite van hierdie aangeleentheid was egter dat die huiseienaarsvereniging nooit die bedoeling gehad het om kopers van eiendom aanspreeklik te hou vir uitstaande bedrae verskuldig aan die huiseienaarsverening deur die vorige eienaar nie.  Die titelaktevoorwaardes het dus, volgens die hof, bloot ‘n persoonlike reg teen die insolventes daargestel.

Die hof het egter ook beslis dat die verkoop van die eiendom onderhewig sal wees aan die voorwaardes vervat in die titelakte en dus dat die koper van die eiendom persoonlik onderhewig sal wees aan die voorwaardes, en die reëls van die huiseienaarsvereniging sal moet nakom.

Die applikant in die derde aangeleentheid, bekend as die South Downs Huiseienaarsvereniging-aangeleentheid, het die aansoek teruggetrek voordat enige beslissing gemaak kon word.

Appél is teen die uitspraak in die Willow Waters-saak aangeteken.  Die Registrateur van Aktes het ook ‘n waarskuwende kennisgewing daaroor uitgereik.  Sou die uitspraak in die Noord-Gautengse Hoërhof gehandhaaf word, kan dit verreikende gevolge vir huiseienaarsverenigings inhou.

Dit is derhalwe van die uiterste belang dat direkteure van huiseienaarsverenigings omsigtig moet optree en tydige betaling van die heffings van die lede moet verseker.  Die vertraging met die aanstelling van likwidateurs en kurators, die tydsverloop met die administrasie en afhandeling van ‘n insolvente boedel asook vertragings met die verkoop van die eiendom veroorsaak  deur die afwag van instruksies vanaf preferente skuldeisers, kan ‘n onhoudbare finansiële situasie vir ‘n huiseienaarsvereniging skep.  Die uitsetting van okkupeerders, vasbeslote om die uitsetting sover moontlik te fnuik, neem verdere tyd in beslag.

Maande kan verloop terwyl die maandelikse heffings oploop en die huiseienaarsvereniging nie die uitstaande bedrae van enige ander entiteit kan verhaal nie.  Alle hoop word dan daarop gevestig dat die agterstallige bedrae deur middel van die titelaktevoorwaardes verhaal kan word.  As ‘n maatskappy sonder winsbejag met die verantwoordelikheid om dienste aan sy lede te lewer, kan die situasie maklik finansieel haglik word vir die huiseienaarsverenging.

Effektiewe en vroeë skuldinvorderingstappe teen enige lid onmiddellik wanneer wanbetaling plaasvind, sal die beste verweer wees.  Daarom moet direkteure en die lede self ‘n streng oog hou oor stiptelike maandelikse betalings en verseker dat daar spoedig met wanbetalende lede geskakel word en, as hulle volhou met wanbetaling, dat die saak aan bevoegde prokureurs oorhandig word vir invordering van die skuld.  Vertragings hiermee kan die huiseienaarsvereniging duur te staan kom.

Terwyl duidelikheid afgewag word van óf die hoogste hof van appèl óf die Konstitusionele Hof moet direkteure eerder pro-aktief optree en verseker dat enige wanbetalende lede onmiddellike aandag ontvang, spoedig en effektief, nie net in belang van hul eie eiendomsbelegging nie, maar ook dié van alle ander lede van die huiseienaarsvereniging.

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.

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SKENKINGS

SKENKINGS

article2bl-OctoberOf jy nou daaraan dink om jou seun finansieel te help om sy eerste eiendom te koop of om geld te skenk aan ‘n verdienstelike saak, is daar ‘n paar dinge wat jy in gedagte moet hou.

Die Inkomstebelastingwet No. 58 van 1962 definieer ‘n skenking as “’n gratis oormaking van eiendom, en ook ’n gratis afstanddoening van ’n reg”.  Die skenker mag dus geen teenprestasie ontvang van die begiftigde soos in die geval van ‘n ruilooreenkoms nie.

Daar kan verder onderskei word tussen twee tipes skenking, naamlik donatio inter vivos (skenking tussen twee persone wat albei lewend is) en donatio mortis causa (‘n skenking gemaak waar die begiftigde eers die skenking sal ontvang na die dood van die skenker).

Die vereistes vir sowel ‘n inter vivos- skenking as ‘n mortis causa-skenking is die volgende:

  • die skenker moet ‘n aanbod om te skenk maak wat deur die begiftigde aanvaar moet word;
  • die skenker moet oor die nodige handelsbevoegdheid beskik om die skenking te maak en die begiftigde moet oor die nodige handelsbevoegdheid beskik om die skenking te aanvaar;
  • enigiets waarmee gehandel kan word (in commercio) kan geskenk word;
  • ‘n skenking moet wettig en uitvoerbaar wees; en
  • die skenking moet identifiseerbaar of uitkenbaar wees.

‘n Skenking kan ook teruggetrek word.  In die geval van ‘n inter vivos-skenking kan die skenker te eniger tyd voordat die begiftigde die skenking aanvaar, sodanige skenking terugtrek.  Na aanvaarding van die skenking deur die begiftigde het ‘n geldige kontrak ontstaan en sal die skenking slegs teruggetrek kan word in die geval van growwe ondankbaarheid aan die kant van die begiftigde, bv. indien die begiftigde die skenker se lewe bedreig.  ‘n Mortis causa skenking kan te eniger tyd voor die skenker se dood herroep word aangesien die skenking eers bekragtig word by die dood van die skenker.

Laastens, en sekerlik vir meeste mense die belangrikste, moet aandag geskenk word aan die kwessie van skenkingsbelasting wat aan die Ontvanger van Inkomste oorbetaal moet word.  Tans word skenkingsbelasting bereken op 20% van die billike markwaarde van die eiendom wat geskenk word.

Ingevolge klousule 59 van die Inkomstebelastingwet is die skenker aanspreeklik vir betaling van die skenkingsbelasting binne drie maande nadat die skenking gemaak is.  Sou die skenker nalaat om die belasting betyds te betaal, sal die skenker sowel as die begiftigde gesamentlik en afsonderlik aanspreeklik gehou word vir betaling daarvan. ‘n Individu kan egter ‘n skenking van R100 000.00 per jaar, vry van skenkingsbelasting, maak.

Dan is daar ook ‘n paar vrystellings kragtens artikel 56 van die Inkomstebelastingwet, onder andere die volgende, waarop gelet kan word:

  • ’n skenking kragtens ’n behoorlik geregistreerde voor- of nahuwelikse kontrak aan die eggenoot/ eggenote van die skenker;
  • ’n skenking tussen gades wat steeds getroud is;
  • ‘n skenking by wyse van donatio mortis causa (hierdie skenking vind uit hoofde van die skenker se testament plaas en is dus nie onderworpe aan skenkingsbelasting nie);
  • ‘n skenking wat binne ses maande nadat dit gemaak is, gekanselleer is; en
  • skenkings aan sekere openbare weldaadorganisasies.

Indien gades binne gemeenskap van goed getroud is, moet op klousule 57A van die Inkomstebelastingwet gelet word.  Indien enige eiendom deur een van die gades ingevolge ’n skenking vervreem is en sodanige eiendom binne die gemeenskaplike boedel van die gades val, sal die skenking geag word in gelyke dele deur elke gade gemaak te gewees het.  Indien die eiendom egter geag word net aan een van die gades te behoort, sal die skenking geag word uitsluitlik gemaak te gewees het deur die gade wat die skenking gemaak het.

Daar is verskeie faktore wat in gedagte gehou moet word wanneer ‘n skenking gemaak word en dus is dit raadsaam om ‘n kenner te raadpleeg ten einde die belasting- en regsimplikasies te bespreek, voordat ‘n besluit geneem 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

CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL: A LAST RESORT?

CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL: A LAST RESORT?

article1bl-OctoberDear Mr Lawyer, my employer is making working conditions unfavourable and I am unhappy with her management style. This cannot carry on and I want to resign. Can I claim constructive dismissal because she is the reason I want to resign?

Constructive dismissal has become a convenient escape for disgruntled employees. Many employees realize too late that they are not eligible to claim from the UIF after they have resigned of their own free will, due to the fact that they resigned and were not dismissed.   All sorts of stories are being told by the employee in an effort to prove that a constructive dismissal has taken place.

Definition of constructive dismissal

The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (as amended) gave statutory status to constructive dismissal. Section 186(1) (e) determines that “dismissal” means, among other things, that “an employee terminated a contract of employment with or without notice because the employer made continued employment intolerable for the employee.”

In other words, the employee is compelled to resign due to unfair pressure, unreasonable instructions or unbearable behaviour caused or created by the employer.

Thus, constructive dismissal in general takes place when an employer makes the continued employment or working circumstances of an employee so intolerable that these circumstances are a form of dismissal.

Burden of proof and evidentiary aspects

Constructive dismissal is an extraordinary form of dismissal and is not easily accepted by the courts. Generally, the employer must prove that the dismissal was procedurally and substantively fair and justified. With constructive dismissal, however, the burden of proof rests on the employee, who must prove constructive dismissal on a balance of probabilities.

The employee will have to satisfy the court as to the existence of the following special circumstances and facts that he or she alleges:

  • continued employment has become intolerable for him or her;
  • the employer must have made continued employment intolerable;
  • no reasonable alternative to resignation was available to him or her and it was done as a matter of last resort;
  • he or she must have lodged a grievance before resigning;
  • he or she must have terminated the contract of employment (resigned), and
  • he or she did not intend to terminate the employment contract, but resignation was his or her last resort.

This is an objective test of whether or not the situation can be tolerated and does not depend on the employer’s perception or personal opinion (subjective) of whether the situation was intolerable.

Additionally, the employee must prove that he/she would have continued working if it wasn’t for the employer’s conduct.

Once the employee has discharged the onus of proving that he/she was constructively dismissed, the onus shifts to the employer to prove that the employee’s action of resigning was unreasonable.

Test for constructive dismissal

The test for determining whether or not an employee was constructively dismissed was set out in Pretoria Society for the Care of the Retarded v Loots (1997) 18 ILJ 981 (LAC) [also reported at [1997] 6 BLLR 721 (LAC). The court found that the test is whether the employer, without reasonable and proper cause, conducted itself in a manner that is calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trust between the employer and employee.

When referring it, it is the court’s function to look at the employer’s conduct as a whole and determine whether its correct, judged reasonable and sensibly is such a manner that the employee cannot be expected to put up with it.

Disputes

Disputes over a possible constructive dismissal must be referred immediately to the CCMA/ Bargaining Council.

An employee must be aware of the scope and degree of difficulty involved in proving constructive dismissal, especially in light of the fact that if an employee resigns and his/her claim for constructive dismissal is unsuccessful, the resignation remains in force.

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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HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS: COLLECT THOSE OUTSTANDING LEVIES!

HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS: COLLECT THOSE OUTSTANDING LEVIES!

article3bl-OctobersThe Registrar of Deeds’ Conference issued a resolution in 2010 ruling that, in the event of a forced sale, mostly in the event of insolvency, a clearance certificate is not obligatory in order to transfer the property into the name of the purchaser, despite a title deed requirement to the contrary.

The resolution was met with severe opposition and the implementation thereof finally reversed. Three recent matters brought before the court clearly indicated that the status quo will not go unopposed.

Homeowners’ associations have, by means of title deed conditions, ensured that membership requirements are compulsory and the fulfillment thereof obligatory.  Generic requirements include the obligation to obtain a clearance certificate from the association, confirming that the provisions of the Memorandum of Incorporation or, where still applicable, the Articles of Incorporation and Association, have been complied with.

Most homeowners’ associations require that all amounts outstanding and levied shall be paid in full prior to the issuing of the clearance certificate.  As the purchaser cannot be held liable for the arrears, the arrears are paid from the funds of the insolvent estate.  The argument by those opposing the status quo is that by such title deed conditions, the homeowners’ associations have established themselves as preferential creditors of an insolvent estate.

Although an established business practice, the benefit created for the associations in terms of the title deed conditions, are being opposed and questioned.

Three recent matters have been challenging the status quo.

In the first matter, that of Cowin NO and Others v Kyalami Estate Homeowners’ Association and Others (11377/12) [2013] ZAGPJHC 121, BA Mashile J ruled in the South Gauteng High court on 25 February 2013 that the conditions in the tile deed should be upheld.  The requirements of a clearance certificate have been found as a real right and can prevail against the whole world.

The court further held that by recognising the real right of the association, it does not confuse or change the status of the association in the concursus creditorum.  The association will remain a concurrent creditor, but has a right to choose whether to lodge and prove its case or exercise the right afforded it in terms of the registered condition in the title deed regarding the property, to claim the outstanding amount from the cost of the sale of the property.

In the second matter, that of Koka NO and Others v Willow Waters Home Owners Association (Pty) Ltd and Others (20361/12) [2013] ZAGPPHC 167, AJ Bam AJ delivered his judgment on 13 June 2013 in the North Gauteng High Court.

The judgment considered whether the rights of the Homeowners’ Association as noted in the title deed, constitute real rights (rights enforceable as against the whole world) or personal rights (rights only enforceable against the other contracting party).

The court dealt with two questions in order to establish the type of right that the association has.

The first was the intention of the person who created the real right. Was it the intention of the person to bind the present owner of the property and also the successors in title?

The second question was whether the nature of the right was such that the registration thereof resulted in a diminution of the ownership of the property (“subtraction from dominium”) against which it is registered.

The North Gauteng High Court ruled that the association does not have a real right.  The court acknowledged the fact that the title deed conditions do bind the successors in title of the property.  But the facts in this matter were that the association never had the intention to hold purchasers of the property liable for the outstanding levies and penalties of a previous owner.  The conditions were thus a mere personal right against the insolvents.

It should be noted that the court ruled for this sale to be subject to the title deed conditions in that the purchaser of the property will be personally subject to the conditions and will have to abide by the rules of the association.

The applicant of the third matter, known as the South Downs HOA matter, withdrew the application before any judge could rule thereon.

The Willow Waters matter is currently under appeal and the Registrar issued a cautionary notice in terms thereof.  Should the North Gauteng court ruling be upheld, it will have dire consequences for all homeowners’ associations.

It is therefore imperative that directors of homeowners’ associations carefully attend to timeous payment of levies due by their members.  The delay in appointment of liquidators or curators, the time-consuming administration and winding-up of an insolvent estate, as well as the delay in selling the properties caused by delayed instructions from preferential creditors, can create an untenable situation for associations.  The eviction of occupiers, bent on remaining in the property at all cost, also takes time.

Months can pass whilst the monthly levies accrue, with the association unable to recover from any other entity save the right to recover via the title deed conditions.  As a non-profit company with the responsibility to render services to its members, the situation can easily become dire for associations.  Insolvency of even a small portion of the members can financially upset a well-to-do estate and lead to financial chaos.

Prompt debt collection action taken against any and all owners immediately on default, will be the best defense.  Therefore, the directors and members themselves should keep a keen eye on prompt monthly payments and ensure that defaulting owners are immediately contacted and, if they persist in the default, hand the matter over to competent attorneys for collection of the debt.  Any delay can be costly to the association.

Whilst clarity is awaited from either the highest court of appeal or the Constitutional Court directors should, not only for the sake of their own property investment but also for that of the other members of the association, ensure that defaulters are speedily and effectively attended to.

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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DONATIONS

DONATIONS

article2bl-OctoberWhether you are thinking of helping your son financially to enable him to purchase his first property or donating money towards a worthy cause, there are some things to keep in mind.

A donation is defined in the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962 as “any gratuitous disposal of property including any gratuitous waiver or renunciation of a right.”  The donor may therefore not receive anything in return from the donee, as this will constitute an exchange agreement.

There are two types of donation, viz. donatio inter vivos (donation between two persons who are both alive) and donatio mortis causa (a donation where the donee will only receive the donation on the death of the donor).

The requirements for both an inter vivos and a mortis causa donation are:

  • the donor must make an offer to donate, which offer must be accepted by the donee;
  • the donor must have the necessary legal capacity to make the donation and the donee must have the necessary legal capacity to accept the donation;
  • anything that a person can trade (in commercio), can be donated;
  • a donation must be legal and feasible; and
  • a donation must be identified or identifiable.

Donations can also be withdrawn.  In the case of an inter vivos donation, the donor can at any time before the donee accepts the donation, withdraw such donation.  After acceptance of the donation by the donee, a valid contract has been formed and the donor will only be able to withdraw the donation in the case of gross ingratitude on the part of the donee, e.g. if the donee threatens the donor’s life.  A mortis causa donation can be repealed at any time before the donor’s death, as the donation will only be ratified on the death of the donor.

Finally, and probably of the most importance to some people, is the matter of donations tax payable to the Receiver of Revenue.  Currently donations tax is calculated at 20% of the fair market value of the property donated.

In terms of article 59 of the Income Tax Act, the donor is liable for payment of donations tax within three months after the donation was made.  If the donor fails to pay the tax timeously, the donor and the donee will be jointly and severally liable for the payment thereof.  An individual can make a donation of R100 000 per annum, free of donations tax.

There are also a few exemptions in terms of section 56 of the Income Tax Act, which should be noted. They include the following:

  • a donation in terms of a duly registered prenuptial or postnuptial contract to the spouse of the donor;
  • a donation between spouses who are still married to each other;
  • a donation in the form of donatio mortis causa (this donation occurs in terms of the donor’s will and is therefore not subject to donations tax);
  • a donation that was cancelled within six months after it was made; and
  • donations to certain public benefit organisations.

If spouses are married in community of property they should pay attention to section 57A of the Income Tax Act.  If any property, which forms part of the joint estate of both spouses is donated by one of the spouses, such donation shall be deemed to have been made in equal shares by each spouse.  However, if property that has been donated by one of the spouses belongs to only that spouse (the donor), the donation shall be deemed to have been made solely by the spouse who made the donation.

There are several factors to keep in mind when making a donation and it is therefore advisable to consult with an expert to discuss the tax and legal implications before a decision is made.

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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KONSTRUKTIEWE ONTSLAG: LAASTE UITWEG?

KONSTRUKTIEWE ONTSLAG: LAASTE UITWEG?

article1bl-OctoberGeagte Mnr. Prokureur, my werkgewer maak my werksomstandighede ongunstig en ek is ontevrede met haar bestuurstyl. Dit kan nie so aangaan nie en ek wil bedank. Kan ek aanspraak maak op konstruktiewe ontslag omdat sy die rede is dat ek wil bedank?

Konstruktiewe ontslag het ‘n gerieflike uitweg geword vir ontevrede werknemers. Baie werknemers besef te laat dat hulle nie in aanmerking kom om van die Werkloosheidversekeringsfonds te eis nie weens die feit dat hulle uit vrye wil bedank het. Dus word  allerhande stories deur die werknemer opgemaak  in ‘n poging om te bewys dat konstruktiewe ontslag plaasgevind het.

Definisie van konstruktiewe ontslag

Die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge 66 van 1995 (soos gewysig) het statutêre status aan konstruktiewe ontslag verleen.

Artikel 186 (1) (e) bepaal dat “ontslag” onder andere beteken dat  “n werknemer sy of haar dienskontrak beëindig met of sonder kennisgewing omdat die werkgewer voortgesette diens vir die werknemer ondraaglik maak.”

Met ander woorde, die werknemer word verplig om te bedank weens onregverdige druk, instruksies of onredelike gedrag van die werkgewer.

Konstruktiewe ontslag vind dus plaas wanneer die werkgewer die voortgesette diens of die werksomstandighede van die werknemer so ondraaglik maak dat hierdie omstandighede gesien word as `n vorm van ontslag.

Bewyslas en bewysregtelike aspekte

Konstruktiewe ontslag is ‘n buitengewone vorm van ontslag, en word nie maklik deur howe aanvaar nie.
Oor die algemeen moet die  werkgewer  bewys dat  ontslag prosedureel en substantief billik en geregverdig is, maar weens die unieke aard van konstruktiewe ontslag, rus die bewyslas op die werknemer om te bewys dat konstruktiewe ontslag, op `n oorwig van waarskynlikhede, plaasgevind het.

Die werknemer sal die hof van die volgende faktore moet oortuig, om suksesvol met sy/haar eis te wees:

  • voortgesette diens het ondraaglik geword vir hom/haar;
  • die werkgewer het voortgesette diens ondraaglik gemaak;
  • bedanking was die laaste uitweg vir hom/haar omdat geen redelike alternatiewe beskikbaar was nie;
  • hy/sy moes voor die bedanking ‘n grief ingedien het;
  • hy/sy moes inderdaad die dienskontrak beëindig het deur bedanking; en
  • hy/sy was nie van plan om die dienskontrak te beëindig nie maar bedanking was die laaste uitweg.

Hierdie is `n objektiewe toets om te bepaal of die situasie geduld kan word al dan nie, en hang nie af van die werkgewer of werknemer se persepsie of subjektiewe persoonlike opinie daaroor nie.

Verder moet die werknemer bewys dat hy/sy steeds werksaam by die betrokke werkgewer sou wees as dit nie was vir die werkgewer se optrede nie.

As die werknemer bewys het dat hy/sy konstruktief ontslaan is, skuif die bewyslas na die werkgewer om te bewys dat die werknemer se bedanking onredelik was.

Toets vir konstruktiewe ontslag

Die toets om te bepaal of  ‘n werknemer konstruktief ontslaan is, is  uiteengesit in Pretoria Genootskap v Loots (1997) 18 ILJ 981 (LAC) [ook berig by [1997] 6 BLLR 721 (LAC). Daar is bevind dat die toets vir konstruktiewe ontslag is of die werkgewer sonder redelike gronde opgetree het op ‘n wyse wat bereken was om die vertrouensverhouding tussen die werknemer en die werkgewer te vernietig of ernstig te skaad, of waarskynlik hierdie gevolg sou hê.

Die hof se funksie is om te bepaal of die werkgewer se optrede as ‘n geheel onredelik en onregverdig was.

Geskille

Geskille oor ‘n moontlike konstruktiewe ontslag moet na die KVBA/Bedingingsraad verwys word.

Die  werknemer moet bewus wees van die moeite om konstruktiewe ontslag te bewys, veral omdat, indien die eis vir konstruktiewe ontslag onsuksesvol is, die bedanking steeds van krag sal wees.

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.

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