Benaters | Boutique Law Firm in Johannesburg
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News & Insights

Incisive legal news and insights

Security Estates: Are Your Rules Enforceable?

Buying into any form of community scheme means binding yourself to comply with all the scheme’s rules and regulations. Read and understand these rules before you buy - our courts will usually hold you to them.

But not all rules are legally enforceable, and there’s a strong warning for security estates in a recent High Court case where estate speed limits and restrictions on the movement of domestic employees were challenged and found wanting.

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Employees be Warned! A Conflict of Interest Can Get You Dismissed

Dismissal from employment is a drastic remedy, and not lightly upheld by our courts.  But where an employee breaches his/her general duty to act loyally, honestly and in their employers’ best interests, it’s certainly on the table.

We discuss a case in which a municipal employee with 29 years of service was found guilty of a conflict of interest involving his wife’s and brother’s business links to the municipality.  His fate is a timely warning to employees to follow Benjamin Franklin’s advice that “honesty is the best policy”.

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Don’t Lose Your Claim to Prescription - Know the Law!

Delay suing your debtor for too long and you lose your right to claim forever.  That’s the practical effect of our law of prescription, and it’s like throwing money away.  It’s also totally avoidable.

But what if you didn’t know you had a claim in the first place?  A recent judgment from the highest court in the land – our Constitutional Court – warns that what counts is whether your lack of knowledge is a case of factual ignorance, or a case of ignorance of the law.  It’s the source of your ignorance that counts; and not managing that can cost you a lot of money…

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Trustees: Your Risk of Personal Liability in Property Sales

Let’s look at a recent High Court case in which a property seller sued a trustee personally for R2m. The trustee, it turned out, had no authority to sign the sale agreement alone, causing the sale to collapse.

What steps should trustees take to protect themselves from personal liability, and what steps should sellers and buyers take to protect their positions when contracting with trusts?  

Read on for the answers…

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Your Website of the Month: Timing is Everything

In both our business and our personal lives, timing is everything.

But how exactly do we time everything we do for maximum effectiveness? When is the best time of day to be creative, to make decisions, to analyse, to negotiate deals? When are we at our most productive?  When are our roads at their most dangerous?  What’s the ideal age for marriage?

Here’s a blog post discussing the scientific answers to these and other vital life questions…  

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Plot-and-Plan: Great Option, Just Beware the Building Deadline

There are many benefits to the “buy and build” option when you decide to buy a house, but they come with some important cautions.

One of them is that buyers who fail to build on their plots by deadline risk penalty levies and/or buy-back (retransfer) clauses.  We discuss a recent SCA case illustrating both the risk to buyers of a buy-back clause, and the need for developers to beware of losing their claims through prescription.

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TV Cameras in the Courtroom – Media Circus or Public Right? Lessons from the van Breda trial

The Henri van Breda saga is a perfect example of how media broadcasts and livestreaming from a high-profile trial can stoke public interest and engagement.

But what about the rights of witnesses to privacy and security?  And the accused person’s right to a fair trial?  How should our courts balance these rights against those of the public and the media?  An SCA judgment from the early days of the trial sets out clear guidelines…
 

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Sellers and Landlords: Using an Unregistered Estate Agent

The Estate Agency Affairs Board says that up to 50,000 agents may be operating without the required Fidelity Fund Certificate, and whilst many former agents have probably just closed up shop, there is a chance that the agent who sold or rented out your house for you is (whether inadvertently or by design) unregistered.

We look at how this affects you, with a note to agents on the importance of renewing your Fidelity Fund Certificates and using your EAAB PrivySeals.
 

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When Crime Doesn’t Pay: VAT Fraudsters Behind Bars for 25 Years

Honest taxpayers, particularly those struggling to get legitimate refunds out of SARS whilst its fraud prevention systems grind along slowly, will hope that potential tax cheats take fright at the stiff sentences handed down recently to three company directors. 

They were convicted of submitting 198 fraudulent VAT returns over a 3 year period,  involving a total of R216m, and each director received an effective sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment.  
 

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What Does 2018 Have in Store For Us?

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future” (Niels Bohr, theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner)

The last few years have sprung on us a lot more than their fair share of game-changing surprises.  The Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s election, the rise and rise of Bitcoin … the list goes on.

Here’s something to help with your strategic planning for 2018…

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