THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT

 

 

THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT:

Most people are unaware of the Small Claims Court and the services that the Court actually provides. There are definite advantages to lodging a claim through the Small Claims Court, as it is an informal and fairly quick process.

WHAT IS THE MONETARY LIMIT IN THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

The Small Claims Court deals with claims from R0.00-R15 000.00 (FIFTEEN THOUSAND RAND). Anything over R15 000.00 must be referred to a Higher Court, which we can assist you with.

WHO CAN REPRESENT ME AT THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

Claimants at the Small Claims court must represent themselves. Legal representation is not allowed.  The Commissioner that adjudicates the matter will assist the parties, within reason.

WHO CAN INSTITUTE A CLAIM IN THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

A person who has a claim to the limit of R15 000.00 may institute a claim provided that they are above the age of 18 years old, or where they are a minor, they are to be represented by a parent or guardian.

It must also be noted that only natural persons can claim and not juristic persons (Companies, Close Corporations, Associations etc. this includes the State).

Most importantly:

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF MATTERS USUALLY CLAIMED?

  • REPAYMENT OF MONIES LOANED;
  • CLAIMING FOR GOODS DUE AND OWING;
  • CLAIMING FOR MONIES SUCH AS DEPOSITS FROM LEASED PREMISES ETC.;
  • CLAIMING FOR DAMAGES.
  • CLAIMS BASED ON CREDIT AGREEMENTS.

WHAT MATTERS MAY I NOT CLAIM FOR?

  • QUANTUM ABOVE R15000.00;
  • DISSOLUTION OF A MARRIAGE OR CHANGE OF STATUS; AND
  • ANYTHING INVOLVING WILLS AND TESTAMENTARY WRITINGS.

WHAT WOULD I NEED TO INSTITUTE A CLAIM?

You would approach the court and issue a letter of demand. If the payment has not been made within the 14 days of demand, the court will assist you to prepare a summons and it will be sent by sheriff to be served on the other side. On the court day you must bring proof of service of the summons.

WHAT HAPPENS IN COURT ON MY COURT DATE?

The process is simple. The Commissioner will ask the parties questions and allow each party to tell their side of the story. The Commissioner is a “judge” and will make a decision that is a legally binding court judgment.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE OPPOSING PARTY DOES NOT PAY?

You can instruct the sheriff, through the court, to attach the assets of the other side and sell them at a sheriff’s auction.

For any assistance in the process (excluding the necessary representation) or any other legal assistance or queries, contact us on 031 003 0630 or Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

Business Contracts – What You Need To Know!

Schwenn-Inc-Business Contract

If you are in business or contemplating going into business, you need to have an understanding of Contract Law and have a trusted advisor who can check all contracts before you sign them.

Your contracts are likely to vary from leases, employment contracts, credit applications to Service Level Agreements, Supply Agreements and more.

If you are a partnership or company, you will likely need Partnership Agreements and associated documents.

A contract is a binding legal agreement between two or more people (natural or juristic (being companies or trusts)) that can be enforced legally with legal remedies.

These contracts regulate the business relationship between the parties and what rights and responsibilities there are and with whom they lie.

Requirements for a Legally Binding Contract

Contracts are complex and it is always better to engage an expert or trusted advisor to draw it and also check if before you sign.  You need to ensure not only that all your rights and interests are fully protected, but that you understand precisely what you are signing.

Legally binding contracts must contain four important elements:

  1. A clear offer.  This defines what is proposed and what the terms of performance are;
  2. An acceptance of the precise terms of the offer;
  3. Both parties must intend to create a legally binding contract;
  4. The “consideration” must also be specified eg. cost.  This can take the form of money, items, services, actions etc.

What you need to know:

  • Ensure the parties are properly defined – is it you or your company contracting?
  • Have the contract in writing!  As much as this may not in every case be a legal requirement, it certainly is worth its weight in gold if there is a dispute or miscommunication later.
  • Have a non-variation clause in written contracts so that no verbal representations vary the written agreement

Contact: Charmaine Schwenn

031 003 0630 / 083 789 7638

charmaine@schwenninc.co.za

www.schwenninc.co.za

Dagga and the law.

 

 

DECRIMINALISATION OF CANNABIS (DAGGA) – WHERE IT STARTED

The Constitutional Court handed down judgment in September 2018 on the use and possession of cannabis. The decriminalisation of personal use and possession by the Constitutional Court came as a shock to the people of South Africa and many of them do not know how and why this happened.

The application was initially brought by Prince, a Rastafari who used cannabis (dagga) for religious reasons. Prince’s challenge was directed at the Cape Law Society which found that Prince was not a fit and proper person to be admitted into the attorneys’ profession since he had convictions for possessing dagga and was not going to stop using it.

Prince alleged that the criminal prohibition on the use and possession of cannabis by the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act and the Medicines and Related Substance Control Act (the Acts) infringed his right to practice his religion.

The application to challenge certain provisions of these Acts was initially based on religious reasons; however the second High Court application was based on the general prohibition of the use and possession of dagga. The High Court had to examine the right to privacy and other rights such as the right to freedom and dignity.

The Western Cape High Court in March 2017 handed judgment declaring certain sections of the Acts invalid and inconsistent with the Constitution insofar as they limited the use, possession and cultivation of dagga in a private dwelling by an adult.

The High Court’s ruling on the invalidity of certain provisions of the Acts was then referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation. The Constitutional Court confirmed the order of the Western Cape High Court and declared certain provisions of the Acts to be constitutionally invalid as they infringed on the right to privacy, thereby legalising the personal use and possession of cannabis (dagga).

Concerns about the legalisation of dagga include it being accessible to the youth, the quantity a person is allowed for a person, its effect on a person’s health and that it might encourage or lead to criminal behaviour.

The Constitutional Court saw it fit, having regard of the separation of powers doctrine, to leave it to Parliament to determine the quantity and impose other limitations which it may deem necessary and justifiable.

Police officers are also given discretion to determine whether the quantity of dagga found on a particular individual exceeds the reasonable quantity for personal use and whether that person had an intention to deal in dagga and sell same.

So now it’s up to the legislators to amend the relevant laws (Acts) to give the detail that we need to understand the full extent of the Constitutional Court’s ruling. In making the necessary changes to the legislation, the legislature will need to consider how to ensure that dagga is not used by the youth, how much of it is safe to use, preventing the dealing/selling of it and what punishment should be in place for transgressors.

Everything you need to know about fees

 

THE AWKWARD COVERSATION OF MONEY BETWEEN AN ATTORNEY AND THEIR CLIENTS:

 

How does one agree to the fees that will be payable?

When a client seeks legal advice, the first thing the attorneys should do is give the client their letter of engagement that sets out how the attorney bills. This creates a legal contract between the attorneys and client and ensures that the client understands what to expect.

 

Are deposits usually paid?

Deposits are usually required from clients in order to make sure that fee’s and disbursements are covered.

 

How does an attorney calculate their fees?

Attorneys calculate their fees usually taking into account the following factors:

  • Experience;
  • Education;
  • Risk;
  • Amount of work needed to be done;
  • Time periods that the work must be completed in;
  • The urgency of the matter;
  • The difficulty of the work; and
  • Whether the attorney specializes in that field of law required.

 

What is an hourly rate?

An attorney’s hourly rate will depend on the attorney, who will take into account what work needs to be done in a matter based on his or her experience with previous matters for example the amount of time to be spent at court as well as drafting and perusing of documents.

The most important factor in an attorney’s hourly rate is usually the amount of knowledge they have and the years of practice they have under their belt.

Often, a more experienced attorney (normally more expensive) may work out more cost effective in the long run, as they are able to deal with matters more expeditiously.

 

What is a contingency fee?

This rarely happens and was previously not allowed in law until recently. The contingency fee agreement is an agreement that an attorney will only charge a client no more then his or her usual rate or 25% of the capital sum awarded. This however is on the condition that the client represented is successful.

An attorney may not wish to engage matters on a contingency basis, as the risk to the attorney is that they are unable to assess the full merits of the matter at the outset.

 

Meaning of certain fee terms used?

  1. Pro Bono – this is used when an attorney helps an indigent person who cannot afford legal help.
  2. Pro Amico – this is used when an attorney has a special relationship with another person. Fees are not payable but disbursements are.
  3. Costs De Bonis Propriis – this is when an attorney acts so negligently that the court shows its frustration that it orders the attorney to pay all the costs out of his own pocket.

 

In conclusion there are many ways in which fees can be calculated at. However, the most important thing is to make sure that you have a proper agreement with your attorney in order to know what fees you are liable for and what you are not.

At Schwenn Incorporated, we pride ourselves in going over and beyond for our clients and in being cost effective but also being able to give our clients work that goes beyond standard. Contact us today for any legal queries on 031 003 0630 or at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

Fight Sexual Harassment.

 

ARE YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW A VICTIM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

 

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can be defined as any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted and that makes another person feel uncomfortable.

Sexual harassment can take many other forms such as:

  • Verbal;
  • Physical;
  • Sexual favouritism; and
  • Quid pro quo.

What are some examples of Sexual harassment?

If you are unsure what could constitute as sexual harassment some examples are:

  1. Any unwanted sexual statements: this would include any dirty jokes, explicit drawings, rating ones sexual performance, comments about one’s body. This can take the form by being verbal or written.
  2. Unwanted personal attention: this includes any phone calls, letters and any pressure of dates and unwanted sexual favour offers.
  3. Unwanted physical advances: This is the most obvious type. This includes hugging, touching, kissing, sexual assault and fondling.

 

Who can conduct an act of sexual harassment?

It is a myth that only fellow employees or supervisors are the only ones that commit acts of sexual harassment and that the rest cannot be claimed against. In reality the list includes but is not limited to the following people:

  1. Owners;
  2. Employers;
  3. Managers;
  4. Supervisors;
  5. Employee’s;
  6. Job applicants;
  7. Clients;
  8. Suppliers; and
  9. Contractors.

This list then shows that an act can be committed by anyone who has any dealings with the company or business.

 

What is my responsibility as an employee if I am a victim of sexual harassment?

This would be according to the code of good practice of your work place. The consensus between most codes of good practice and the Labour Relations Act states that an employee who either witnessed or is a victim of sexual harassment must report this to the human resources department of their workplace.

This report depending on the severity should usually be done in writing as proof where an investigation can take place wherein the perpetrator can go through a disciplinary hearing where his or her actions are proved.

The consequences of an incident going unreported gives the perpetrator power to continue their actions where it can escalate either on the current or new victim.

 

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

Once the supervisor or employer has become aware of any complaint of sexual harassment must immediately open an investigation to establish the liability of the accused. The employer also needs to ensure the victim that their matter has been taken seriously and that something is being done to establish the accused’s conduct and that if any that the necessary punishment will be given.

The employer usually sits and consults with both the victim and the accused to ascertain the problem and try to find out if there is a way to resolve the issue between the parties.

If it has been established that the employee has indeed committed such an offence then the employer must conduct a disciplinary hearing and depending on the severity the employer must fire the employee.

 

What are my other options?

If a matter has not been resolved in 30 days after the complaint is lodged then a case may be lodged at the CCMA whereby the usual proceedings of Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation will take place. If the employer has found to be negligent in not resolving the dispute the employer and the accused can be found guilty jointly and severally.

One may also however lay a criminal charge against the accused.

What can Schwenn Incorporated do for me?

Schwenn Incorporated prides itself in helping both individuals and companies so whether you are an employee or employer who needs help whether it is looking at contracts, litigation, holding a mediation or arbitration or drafting a solid code of practice we can help you. You can contact Schwenn Incorporated at 031 003 0630 or contact Charmaine Schwenn on Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

 

Low income earners get their debt written off

 

DEBT RELIEF BILL: LOW-INCOME CONSUMERS TO HAVE THEIR DEBTS WRITTEN-OFF

The portfolio committee on trade and industry proposed an amendment to the National Credit Act in order to provide debt relief to South Africans struggling with debts.

The Draft National Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazzette on 24 November 2017 and has received much attention from different industries, including business, banking and government. Of concern is the possible effects the proposed amendment will have on these industries and how it will impact our economy.

In terms of the Bill, poor and low-income consumers who earn less than R7.500.00 per month and who have a total of not more than R50 000.00 of unsecured debts may apply, only once, to the National Credit Regulator (NCR) for debt intervention. This application is done by the consumer personally and is only for debts incurred up to 24 November 2017.

Once the consumer has made the application, the NCR will make a determination of whether the applicant requires the intervention or not. If the NCR is of the view that the applicant does require the assistance, a member of the National Credit Tribunal can suspend all credit agreements in part or in full. Further, if it appears that the financial situation of the consumer is not improving, the consumer can have his debts written off.

In terms of the World Bank report, South Africans are the world’s ‘biggest borrowers’ and cannot manage their debts responsibly. About half of credit-active consumers have impaired records. With so many people struggling with debts and qualifying for debt intervention in terms of the Bill, it raises concerns about the impact this will have for businesses and credit providers who followed the right procedures in granting credit.

Essentially what the Bill says is that if you once bought a Television set and a washing machine under credit when you could afford it but later lost your job or got more responsibilities, you can have your debts under those credit agreements extinguished but still keep the goods purchased in terms of the agreement. This differs entirely from what the NCA seeks to achieve, which is promoting fair, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry; and to protect consumers while balancing the rights of suppliers.

The Bill also has the potential of deterring credit providers from giving credit to low-income consumers as there is a risk of them being written-off. The effect of this is that we will have consumers who are denied access to credit even if they have maintained good credit records, purely on the basis of being low income earners.

Further concern is that the Bill will encourage irresponsible behaviour by consumers who will be under the belief that they can have their debts extinguished.

Although the Bill is supposed to provide hope for low-earning consumers who are struggling to pay off their debts, it will have far-reaching consequences especially for our economy. With the Bill being at its final stages, retailers should brace themselves for a possible further cut of debts owed to them.

The fight against Domestic Violence

PROTECTION ORDERS AND THE FIGHT AGAISNT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

Family Law constitutes a large part of our practice at Schwenn Incorporated. Many cases dealing with divorce and the maintenance of children unfortunately include or coincide with protection orders.

Unfortunately Domestic Violence incidences have not decreased but we have seen a substantial increase.

 

What is the definition of domestic violence?

This is any violence by one person onto another in a domestic setting such as a marriage or cohabitation. The list includes but is in no way limited to: physical, sexual, psychological, financial and verbal abuse.

 

What are the statistics?

One in five South African women over the age of 18 years have experienced some type of physical violence. Those odds increase in the poorer communities where one in every three women has been a victim at one time or another in their lives.

A survey shows that 17% of women between the ages of 18-24 years have experienced violence just in the 12 months before the survey was taken. Women between the ages 65 years and older report in at 16.7%.The worst percentage rate however has to be that of separated and divorced women which comes in at 40%.

The SAPS report that 73.54% of crimes are against women, whether that be murder, rape or assault. The province with the highest percentage of domestic violence is Eastern Cape leading at 32%.

 

In any case involving Domestic Violence, the victim (complainant) must apply for a protection order to ensure that they are safe during the divorce or maintenance process.

 

How does one take out or apply for a protection order?

  1. The complainant must depose to an affidavit and complete an application at the relevant court;
  2. Supporting Affidavits by those who may have been witness to the abuse must also be made;
  3. These documents and any other supporting documents must be handed to the clerk of the nearest court;
  4. The application for a protection order is not only linked to the complainant but can be used for anyone who has an interest such as a mother and a child;
  5. Once the court has granted the application for a protection order, this is served by the SAPS on the perpetrator;
  6. In urgent situations, the court may issue a warrant of arrest simultaneously, to ensure the protection of the complainant and my affected persons.

 

The Domestic Violence Act puts pressure on government officials such as the police and the courts to follow through with domestic violence cases which makes them less likely to be withdrawn or ignored as an effort to make sure that no one falls through the proverbial cracks.

 

How we can help you:

Domestic violence is a criminal offence. As attorneys we can assist you with claims for damages, whether that be for medical expenses, damage to property or to a third party.

We at Schwenn Incorporated can help you claim your dignity back and help you stand up against abuse. Remember that all information is confidential and privileged. Call us today on 0315631874/0837897638 or email us at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za for more information.

 

 

Companies losing turnover

COMPANIES : ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE 10% OF YOUR TURNOVER AWAY?

 The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) sent out a media release on the 31 May 2018 on cases in the High Court that they have won. These wins are related to Section 30 of the Companies Act which states that “every company is required to prepare its annual financial statements within 6 months after of end of its financial year”.

 

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) objectives.

Among others, CIPC, has the responsibility to promote compliance in terms of the Companies Act efficiently and effectively in order to ensure the widest possible enforcement. This includes promoting the reliability of financial statements prepared and submitted by companies as well as monitoring compliance in terms of those financial statements.

 

What is the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA)?

Auditors of a company need to be independent and reliable in order to combat fraudulent activities. Therefore the IRBA is an organisation made up of many independent and reliable auditors that report to CIPC after their completion of an audit of a respective company and its financial records.

 

What do we know from the recent court decisions?

IRBA have reported a major failure by companies to comply with section 30 of the Act in that they were not submitting their financial statements within the prescribed period either in full or at all.

IRBA then reported their findings to CIPC in order for CIPC to follow out their objectives and enforce compliance. CIPC sent these various companies Compliance Notices which were in turn ignored.

CIPC then sent the companies Administrative fines for the period of non-compliance and again such was done to no avail.

 

Which are the major companies involved in the failure to comply?

The companies which gave the CIPC the most problems were Citiconnect, Blue Sky Air and Sisao Projects.

These were the major role players referred to in the Notice of Motion brought by CIPC. They brought a court application seeking an order by the court to enforce those Administrative fines.

 

What was the outcome?

The conclusion of these cases was in favour of CIPC. The Administrative fines were ordered to be paid by each company equal to 10% of their turnover during the entire period that these companies showed non-compliance!

 

CIPC’s concluding remarks are that they “strive to rectify conduct that goes against the spirit of the Companies Act through high standards of corporate governance and high levels of transparency”. Our Question to you is, have you submitted you annual Financial Statements?

 

How can we help?

Schwenn Inc., Attorneys and Conveyancers can assist with your company secretarial duties and ensure that you are aware of these kinds of obligations.

RESOLVING A LABOUR DISPUTE THROUGH CONCILIATION & ARBITRATION

people are happy when they have a successful mediation

RESOLVING A LABOUR DISPUTE THROUGH CONCILIATION & ARBITRATION

Many employers find themselves being served with notices to appear before the CCMA and wonder how it happened. This can either be because an employee of that company feels that he has been treated unfairly or that he was dismissed in a manner that is unfair. The big question then becomes: what does the CCMA do for parties involved in a labour dispute and whose side is it on?

The Labour Relations Act provides for first instance mechanisms which can be used to resolve labour disputes between employers and employees. Disputes that involve unfair labour practices and unfair dismissals are then considered through the statutory dispute resolutions (conciliation) before they can be transferred to arbitration or the Labour Court.

 

THE CCMA

The CCMA is a dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). It is an independent body and does not belong to and is not controlled by any government entity, trade union or business. Any party can approach the CCMA to resolve a labour dispute; however you find that in most instances it is usually employees that refer matters to the CCMA. In the case of an unfair dismissal, an employee will have 30 days from when the dismissal took place to refer the matter to the CCMA for a resolution. In the event that an employee is subjected to an unfair labour practice, he must approach the CCMA within 90 days of such unfair conduct. The CCMA can however condone a late referral if the party referring the matter can provide good reasons for the late referral.

When approaching the CCMA, an employee would need to allege either an unfair dismissal or an unfair labour practice.

An employer is permitted to dismiss an employee for misconduct, incapacity and for operational requirements. Misconduct relates to the breaking or non-adherence to the rules and policies of the workplace. Incapacity is in respect of an employee which cannot perform his functions properly or to the standards set out. A dismissal due to operational requirements is when an employee is dismissed not because of fault on his part but because the company has no choice but to after considering its needs (retrenchment).

Although an employer would be allowed to dismiss an employee based on the reasons set out above, he would need to adopt the principles of substantive and procedural fairness as contained in the LRA when doing so. In terms of substantive fairness, an employer would need to have valid reasons for dismissing the employee. That is to say that the employee has broken the rules repeatedly or that he has failed or has not been able to improve his performance.

With regards to procedural fairness, an employer is required to follow the right and appropriate procedure when dismissing the employee. This is often how a lot of companies find themselves in trouble because they did not follow the right procedure. The procedure would obviously depend on the reason and type of dismissal, however, standard rules say that an employer would need to inform the employee of the allegations against him and the employee must be given sufficient time to prepare a response to the allegations put against him.

 

REFERRING A DISPUTE FOR CONCILIATION

In order to refer a dispute to the CCMA, an LRA7.11 form needs to be completed and submitted to the CCMA. This is the CCMA’s case referral form. This form will contain all your personal details as well as details about the dispute. A copy needs to be served on the other party so that they are fully aware of the process. Upon receiving your case, the CCMA will appoint a commissioner who will inform both parties of the referral, as well as when the first hearing will take place.

The purpose of this is to try and resolve the dispute first hand, thus avoiding the lengthy processes of arbitration from the CCMA or the Labour Court. Conciliation also gives parties a platform to consider and lay out their issues which can sometimes result in a settlement being reached. If the dispute is not resolved or 30 days have passed since the date of the referral and no conciliation was done, the commissioner will issue a certificate of outcome. Depending on the nature of the dispute, the case may be referred to the arbitration or the Labour Court.

 

ARBITRATION

Arbitration is a more formal process which includes the leading of evidence and the calling of witnesses. The party alleging the dispute to be the fault of the other bears the onus to prove his case. A dispute must be referred to arbitration within 3 months from the date on which the commissioner issued the conciliation certificate and is applied for by completing a request for arbitration form (LRA Form 7.13). An arbitration award is then issued stating reasons for the commissioner’s decision within 14 days of the conclusion of the arbitration.

Only certain disputes can be referred to arbitration and these include dismissals for conduct or performance, ‘constructive dismissal’ based on intolerable working conditions, harassment and unfair labour practices, etc. A party in a labour dispute is entitled to have legal representation at arbitration. An arbitrator must conduct himself in a fair and impartial manner as a neutral third party that is mediating. The arbitrator’s decision or ruling is binding on the parties and cannot be appealed but can be subject to a review.

 

REVIEW

Section 145 of the LRA provides that a party may apply to the Labour Court on the basis of an alleged defect with the commissioner’s ruling. The party alleging the misconduct or defect will have to make an application to the Labour Court to set the ruling aside. The award will be found to be defective if the arbitrator committed a gross irregularity in conducting the arbitration proceedings or went beyond his mandate/duties or facilitated an improper acquisition of an award in favour of one of the parties. Examples of these include, but not limited to, bias, aggression towards witnesses, rejecting evidence and failing to apply his mind in coming to a decision.

If a dismissed employee is successful in any of the above processes, he will be entitled to reinstatement. If he does not wish to go back to work, he will then be entitled to some compensation for the unfair dismissal. The award that was granted in arbitration will not be suspended during the review process. So if an employer was ordered to reinstate an employee, that award is enforceable from then on. So if an employer wishes to suspend the enforcement of the award pending the review, he would need to furnish security to the value of the award that was given.

 

Dealing with a whole of labour related disputes which can turn either way often gets parties to make decisions which they have not carefully considered. This can result in a huge waste of time and money and that is why it is best to try by all means to avoid going to the CCMA. The best thing you can do either as an employer or employee when involved in a labour dispute issue is to get legal advice on how to deal with the dispute. Even when the matter does end up in the CCMA, one should be prepared for the mediation and be open to settlement.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP

Schwenn Inc offers multi-disciplinary, innovative dispute resolution solutions that range from litigation to arbitration, conciliation, mediation and negotiation. We can help you with:

  • Drafting your Company’s Code of Conduct: Outlining the Company’s expectations and guiding principles for good and ethical workplace behaviour.
  • Advising on Disciplinary Procedures: This will ensure that in every labour dispute the company is involved in, the right procedures are followed in trying to resolve them, thus avoiding being taken to the CCMA or the Labour Court.
  • Reviewing your Company’s Employment Contracts: To establish whether the Company is protected in the event of disputes with its employees and to ensure that the contracts are clear on the relationship between the Company and its employees.
  • Chair Disciplinary Hearings: Schwenn Inc can facilitate a smooth, effective and rewarding mediation in the disciplinary procedures.
  • Assist in Preparing for the CCMA: Our firm can instil confidence in your Company when it is called to appear before the CCMA or Arbitration by preparing you for the hearings and the procedures.

Wills and Estates: Frequently Asked Questions

Will and Testament Documents on a Table

Many people don’t want to think about drafting their Last Will and Testament.

None of us want to think about becoming ill or aged.  The reality is that anyone at any age must have a Will.  As the saying goes “it’s always better to be safe than sorry”.

When having a Will drafted by an Attorney, the individual must understand what the document contains, as well as the consequences in terms thereof.

This article will therefore discuss the answers to the most frequently asked questions that we, as attorneys, receive and the importance of such questions.

What is a Will?

A Will is a document which will direct the management of your assets and liabilities upon your death.

When Should I Think About Drafting a Will?

You should always have a Will and it should be updated on any changes in your life, e.g. getting married, having a child, buying or selling a property etc.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

If someone dies without a Will it means that their assets will devolve unto their next of kin and other family members via the intestate stipulations in the Administration of Deceased Estates Act.

This process is usually more time consuming as it will take longer to administer the Estate. It can also place a disadvantage on certain people who may not inherit from the estate as you might have wanted or intended them to.

What Makes a Will Legally Valid?

A Will MUST be in writing and dated and signed by the person whose Will it is (the “testator/testatrix”).

It must be witnessed.

A Will may, in certain circumstances, be “signed” by way of thumb print and/or seal if one is physically unable to sign, but the legal provisions in respect thereof are very strict.

Contact our offices for direction if you wish to discuss the drafting of your Last Will and Testament.

When Can a Will be Challenged?

A Will can be challenged for many reasons e.g.

If there is a question as to whether the person had drafted their Will under duress;

Where it is questionable whether such person was competent or unable to comprehend what the contents were when drafting the Will;

Where such person did not meet the proper requirements to make such Will legal and valid according to the law.

Where are Wills Kept?

As attorneys, we draft the Will on behalf of and to the satisfaction of the client.  The client then signs the Will and the document is witnessed.  The document is then placed into Securities, where it is protected against theft, fire etc.

What is a Testamentary Trust?

A Testamentary Trust is a trust created within a Will whereby another person is nominated to inherit a property in the future.

Most people hold money or assets in trust for their children to access when they reach the age of 25 years old, as they will be more competent to utilize it at that age.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a separate document which is usually attached to a Will.  This document states that in the event of someone being hospitalized and medical intervention will not save the person’s life, then the hospital is to cease any procedures which will only prolong the person’s life and/or suffering. This usually occurs when a person is terminally ill or permanently in an unconscious state.

How Many Executors and/or Trustees Should I Have?

By law there should be at least one executor and if there is a Testamentary Trust created, there should be at least two trustees. Usually executors and trustees are the same people.

What Happens to My Minor Children When I Die?

Both parents are natural guardians of children, so whether you are married to your child’s other parent or not is irrespective. If one parent dies, the child/children will be in the care of the other parent. However it is important that if both parents die for example simultaneously, that another person, such as a family member, or friend, is nominated to care for the child/children.

In conclusion, this article clarifies the most important aspects to a Will as questioned by clients. One of the most important things that we like to instill to our clients is that you should create a Will as soon as possible, as it is not dependent on age. One must be competent and of sober mind when creating their Will and most importantly the client MUST understand their Will when signing it so as to avoid future complications.

For more questions or to create a will with us please don’t hesitate to contact SCHWENN INC today at 031 563 1874 or email us on Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za. We look forward to helping you safeguard your legacy!