These terms are often mentioned in laws, contracts and news articles.  What do they actual mean?

Status refers to your rights and responsibilities in civil and criminal law and whether you can sue or be sued.

This is further limited by your domicile (where you live and consider to be your home country), your age and your mental capacity.

Age and capacity go hand in hand, as described below :

  1. 0-7 Years old- Children between these ages have no capacity to act and need a parent or guardian to act on their behalf;
  2. 7-18 Years old- These ages have limited capacity to act. At this stage a minor (any person under the age of 18 years) can enter into contracts but need their parent or guardian to consent before it is legally binding; and
  3. 18 years and above- You are now considered a major and have unlimited capacity to act, unless you are mentally incapacitated.  In this case, the court would appoint a Curator to administer your affairs on your behalf in your best interests.

Here are some random and interesting other facts about the law and age:

  1. 0-10 Years – Children between these ages have no criminal liability;
  2. 10 Years old – 18 Years old- these minors need to consent to an adoption to be legal;
  3. 14 years and older- This person can be a witness to a will;
  4. 12 Years and above- a minor can make medical decisions for themselves without their parents/guardians consent if they understand the risks involved ;
  5. 12-15 Years old- A minor of this age can get married with consent of their parent/guardian and the Minister of Home Affairs, when they are married they still obtain the status of majority even after divorce; and
  6. 16 Years and above- A minor can now execute a will for themselves without assistance or consent of a parent or guardian.

The law therefore indicates that to enter into any legal contract or litigation in general one must know of their legal status in order to peruse same legally.

For any questions on your legal status contact our offices today on 031 003 0630 or email us at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

#newblog #schwenninc #legalcapacityandstatus #attorneysatlaw #litigation #contracts

Adoption can be described as the actual process where one or more people make an application to the  Children’s Court to become a parent of a child that can be either biologically related to the parent or not.

Who is adoptable according to the laws of South Africa?:

  1. Anyone under the age of 18 years old;
  2. Where one is an orphan and their caregiver is willing to adopt him/ her;
  3. Where a child is abandoned and has no contact with the parent for a period of at least 3 months; and
  4. Where a child has been abused and or neglected by his/her parent.

Who can apply to adopt a child?:

  1. The person must be at least 18 years or over;
  2. Spouses or life partners who share a permanent home;
  3. A widower or divorced person;
  4. A stepparent married to the parent of the child; and
  5. A father of a child born out of wedlock.

Who needs to give consent to allow a child to be adopted?:

  1. Each parent or legal guardian if they can be found;
  2. The child must consent where he/she is 10 years or older ( this consent must be reduced to writing and verified by the Children’s Court).

Can consent be withdrawn?:

Yes, a parent who gave the consent to an adoption has 60 days after consent was initially given to withdraw the consent.

Therefore the Children’s Court cannot grant an adoption until the 60 day period has expired.

When is it possible for consent not to be required?:

  1. When someone is mentally ill/ unstable;
  2. When a child is abandoned and the parent cannot be traced;
  3. Where a child has been abused by their parent/ guardian;
  4. Where a parent has failed to respond to a proposed adoption notice within 30 dyas of receipt;
  5. A father who has never acknowledged he was the father of the child;
  6. A child conceived from an incestuous relationship; and
  7. When a child was conceived by rape.

What is the actual procedure to adopt a child?:

  1. A notice must be served by a sheriff to the parents/guardians to request consent;
  2. An interview with a social worker regarding whether or not a child can be adopted eg. If its in the childs best interest;
  3. An application must be made to the Children’s Court with the recommendation of the social worker;
  4. A letter by the provincial head of social development recommending the adoption;
  5. If granted, the order together with the child’s birth certificate must be taken to the Home Affairs in which the child is domiciled and the change of surname will be recorded.  

For any family law matters don’t hesitate to contact our offices today on 031 003 0630 or email us at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

Written by Jessica Schwenn.


This is a question that each director of either a small, medium or large firm must take into account when considering competition in the market. Negligence has left a lot of firms in a position that leads to them breaking down, but for a firm to successfully compete in a market one must take the following into account.

 ESTABLISHING DOMINANCE

A definition of a dominant firm appears in section 7 of the Competition Act. The inquiry into whether an entity is a dominant firm includes an identification of the relevant market in which the firm is involved, it’s market share within that market and whether it possesses the relevant market under section 7 depends upon the market share enjoyed by the firm alleged to be dominant.

WHEN IS A FIRM DOMINANT?

Section 7 of the Competition Act states that a firm is dominant in a market if:

  • It has at least 45% of that market
  • It has at least 35%but less than 45% of that market
  • If it has lee than 35% of that market but it has market power

The statutory test for dominance requires an assessment of market share and market power. A firm with a market share of 45% or more cannot escape being conspired dominant per se, however, for those firms with a market share of less than 45%, market share is only one aspect that needs to be considered.

If the firm has a market share of less than 45% but equal to or more than 35%, the onus is on the firm to show that it does not have market power.

If a firm cannot produce evidence to show that it does not enjoy market power, then the firm is dominant.

Likewise, a firm with less than 35% of a market share may be dominant if it has market power. However, in this case, the onus is the complainant in the case or where relevant, the Competition Commission, to show that the firm has market power.

TEST FOR DOMINANCE

A firm can only be determined once the market in which the firm competes is correctly defined. Accordingly, the definition of the relevant market is an important initial step in establishing whether a firm qualifies as dominant. It is quite possible for a big conglomerate firm that participates in various diverse industries not to be dominant in any relevant market.

So, the main question to ask is when does a firm have market power? The Competition Act defines market power as the ability to:

  • Control prices
  • Exclude competition
  • Behave to an appreciable extent independently of competitors, customers, and suppliers.

Market power provides the firm with the ability to set prices above the competitive price level, and in so doing earn a greater profit than it would have under competitive conditions in the market.  

WHAT DOES THE DOMINANCE PROVISION PROHIBIT?

In terms of section 8 of the Act, it is prohibited for a firm to:

1. Charge an excessive price to the detriment of consumers;

2. Refuse to give access to competitors access to an essential facility when it is economically feasible to do so;

3.Engage in an exclusionary act, other than that listed below if the anti-competitive effect outweighs its technological efficiency or whether pro-competitive gain;

4. Engage in any of the following exclusionary acts, unless the firm concerned can show technological efficiency or other pro-competitive gains which outweigh the anticompetitive effect of its act;

  • Requiring or inducing a supplier or customer not to deal with a competitor. This transpired in the case of Comair Ltd v SAA 2008 where SAA induced airline agents to not deal with Nationwide Airlines and Comair who were complainants in selling the tickets but only sell SAA tickets to customers in return for an incentive promised by SAA.
  • Refusing to supply scarce goods to a competitor when supplying those would be economically feasible.
  • Selling goods or services on conditions that the buyer purchases separate goods or services unrelated to the object of a contract or forcing a buyer to accept a condition unrelated to the object of a contract or forcing a buyer to accept a condition unrelated to the object of the contact.
  • Selling good and services below their marginal or average variable cost.
  • Buying up a scarce supply of intermediate goods or resources required by a competitor.

Before one engages in the market it is advisable to look out for such conduct, apply the Act where applicable.

We can help with this!  We have extensive experience with the Competition Commission, having appeared before the commission on behalf of clients and dealt with Competition matters, up to and including, challenging fines, opposing applications brought by the Competition Commission, representing clients before the Competition Tribunal, among others.

Contact: Charmaine Schwenn

                Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za

031 -0030360

WRITTEN BY: PORTIA SAMKELISIWE DLAMINI

13/05/2019

This article aims to discuss the necessity of open communication between yourself and your attorney especially when seeking and setting up a payment holiday plan.

Many people will at some point in their lives find themselves being involved in legal disputes. It goes without saying that litigating on a matter can take quite a while, especially if the matter is opposed.

In saying that, an attorney can become costly. The more time an attorney spends on your matter, the higher your legal bill.

Your financial situation can be either a short term or a long term problem. If it is a short term problem the restructuring of payments owing is much easier to do as opposed to a long term problem. It is however, important for you to maintain an open line of communication between yourself and your attorney. An attorney will only then institute legal action against you if you have not honored your commitments and/or if you haven’t advised them fully about your financial circumstances.

Your attorney may ask that you sign a contract for a certain period that limits your liability to pay them, this is known as a payment holiday. This is not to say that you are fully extinguished from ever paying your attorney again, but it is a contract that will stipulate the terms and conditions that will determine:

  1. When the amounts are due;
  2. What amounts are outstanding;
  3. If there is any discount available e.g. the use of a collections tariff as opposed to an attorney’s full hourly rate; and
  4. What interest, if any, will the debtor be liable for?

It is pertinent to note that a payment holiday plan will be based on the merits of a case, usually only used for a long term client and after a full financial assessment has been undertaken.

Be careful not to get a payment holiday plan confused with Pro Bono work. Most pro-bono work is work referred to attorneys by Pro Bono.Org in order to provide free legal assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for an attorney.  http://www.probono.org.za/.

In conclusion, to set up a payment holiday plan with your attorney you must apply your mind to the following:

  1. Be an existing client;
  2. You must notify your attorney immediately of any financial change;
  3. Share your financial history with your attorney;
  4. Negotiate a contract and decide which terms and conditions suit both parties;
  5. Honor your payments ( when the “holiday” is over); and
  6. Always keep the lines of communication with your attorney open.

For any legal assistance or advice kindly contact us on 031 003 0630 or email us on Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

Written by Jessica Schwenn.

#schwenninc #yougotschwenned #blogs #paymentholiday

  Residential properties : Securing your security deposit Section 5 of the Rental Housing Act (RHA) allows a landlord to take a deposit from a tenant before the tenant moves into the property. This amount must be stipulated in the lease agreement and is generally an amount that is equal to 1 month rental. The […]

Residential properties : Securing your security deposit

Section 5 of the Rental Housing Act (RHA) allows a landlord to take a deposit from a tenant before the tenant moves into the property. This amount must be stipulated in the lease agreement and is generally an amount that is equal to 1 month rental.

The RHA, requires that the landlord deposits the money into an interest bearing account, with a financial institution. A tenant has the right to receive a statement of interest earned. The tenant is therefore entitled to receive their deposit and all interest earned during the lease period at completion of the lease.  The tenant will have to provide FICA information for the landlord to invest the deposit amount.

As further protection, a tenant should ensure the landlord or managing agent is registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board.

A landlord is entitled to deduct any expenses incurred from repairing any damage which may have occurred during the term of the lease from the deposit and interest.  This is normally provided for in the written lease agreement.

The tenant has the right to see all repair receipts to ensure the expenses are for genuine repairs that have been undertaken by the landlord. This does NOT include costs for general maintenance of the property which is for the landlord’s expense.

The Importance of a walkthrough inspection

A tenant should always do a pre lease inspection, noting any defects or faults prior to moving in and this should be reduced to writing and sent to the landlord or his agent as soon as possible, or within the time stipulated in the lease. A good idea would be to take photos as this would substantiate any claims of faults and will supplement any “snag lists’.

Some landlords often agree to fix faults at a later stage and this should be viewed with some suspicion as often the faults are not fixed and the landlords then blame the tenants for any damage. A tenant is not responsible for wear and tear and should not be forced to repaint the walls (unless the tenant has caused excessive wear and tear).

Exit inspection

A tenant must always insist on having an exit inspection and this should be done when the lease comes to an end. The tenant should ensure that the original snag list is presented and any additional evidence (photographic or otherwise) as well as any additional faults that have occurred during the lease period. A tenant who is intent on getting their full deposit and interest should view this inspection with a critical eye (by ensuring the property is cleaned, the walls washed and any holes patched up).

Rental Housing Act, Amendments

This Act sets out the following criteria for both the landlord and tenant:

  • Setting out the rights and obligations of the parties in a coherent manner;
  • Requiring the lease to be in writing;
  • The contents of a lease must include the following;
    • Names and addresses of all the parties to the agreement;
    • A description of the property;
    • The amount of the rental;
    • Reasonable escalation;
    • Frequency of payment;
    • The amount of the deposit;
    • The lease period and the notice period.

Failure to repay the security deposit and interest, for no legitimate reason, by the landlord is a criminal offence in terms of Section S 16 (aB) (RHA) and is punishable with a penalty or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

To ensure your lease agreement is complaint with all the necessary rights and obligations of both the landlord and tenant, contact us on 031 – 003 0630 or charmaine@schwenninc.co.za. #rentals #durbanlawyer #schwennlegacy #leaseagreements #newblogpost

Article written by – Barry Todd

 

CREDITORS, DON’T DISREGARD BUSINESS RESCUE SO SOON AS A WAY TO RETRIEVE YOUR MONIES.

It can be said that there has been an increase in business rescue processes in South Africa.

“Business rescue, as defined by the Companies Act 2008, aims to facilitate the rehabilitation of a company that is financially distressed by providing for the temporary supervision of the company and management of its affairs, business, and property by a business rescue practitioner”.
https://m.fin24.com/Entrepreneurs/Resources/Business-rescue-explained-20150119.

One of the main purposes of business rescue is to ensure that creditors be paid out what is owed to them – albeit less than the full amount of their claim.

Although many get disheartened by the decrease in the payback of the capital amount, the proceedings are almost identical but less extreme to that of liquidation proceedings.

“Liquidation is the process of bringing a business to an end and distributing its assets to claimants. It is an event that usually occurs when a company is insolvent meaning it cannot pay its obligations when they come due”.
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liquidation.asp.

From a glance of the Companies Act, it suggests that although a business rescue plan may discharge a portion of the debt owed to concurrent creditors, it would be the same amount that one would get during the liquidation proceedings in any event. Therefore either way although you may retrieve less than the capital amount they theoretically do the same/similar jobs at the end of the day.

Section (1)(b)(iii) of the Companies Act states that a business rescue plan contemplates an outcome that would indeed be a better result for shareholders than it would have been during immediate liquidation.

However, just like many areas of law in South Africa, there has not been a real consensus by the courts whether the above can be stated as true.

In Oakdene Square Properties v Farm Bothasfontein, the Supreme Court of Appeal decided that it was not intended for the Act to promote an informal type of proceedings as a way of avoiding the consequences of liquidation.

If you are a creditor or a business owner looking for advice on business rescue and/or your options on the best returns possible for your money contact our offices on 031 003 0630 or email Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

 

Written by: Jessica Schwenn.

 

What is racism in the workplace?

 

In the news currently is the matter of a teacher that was suspended for posting pictures of children in her class, apparently segregated by race.

Another relevant case has just been decided by our Constitutional Court, where a man was dismissed for referring to a co-employee as a “swart man” – “Black man”.

How do you as an employer or employee regulate this in the workplace? Many refer to co-workers by race – is this racist and derogatory?  It is a real challenge and in this political climate a recipe for disaster.

Think of Adam Catzavelos who posted a “personal” video on the beach and what happened to him and his business. He was fired from a family business and the business has, to our knowledge, not recovered.  The ramifications are huge, especially with social media when things can go viral.

The case of Adam Catzavelos is very clear. His conduct was despicable.  But what of the teacher who posted the pictures – was her suspension valid?  The employee who was dismissed, was his dismissed fairly?

The Constitutional Court held that the CONTEXT of the words or action are what is important in determining whether conduct is racist or defamatory or derogatory.   Was the context intended to be or apparently racist?  Did it belittle the “victim” thereof?  Our history of segregation and apartheid is of great relevance in this.  Ordinary words or actions can be determined to be racist, based on the context and the heightened tensions around racism in South Africa.

The employee who referred to his co-employee as a “swart man” (black man) did so in anger – he allegedly burst into a meeting demanding that the black man’s vehicle be removed from his parking immediately or there would be consequences.

For employers, if such an incident occurs in your workplace, you need to carefully consider our current society tensions and test the context of the incident.

For employees and the general public, be aware of Government efforts to curb racism and hate speech and think carefully. Do not act in anger and measure your words.

If you are an employer – contact us to assist you to put the necessary policies and procedures in place for these situations. We can also assist in sensitising your staff to the actions which could be considered discriminatory or racist.

 

Contact : Charmaine Schwenn

Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za

031-003 0630 / 083 789 7638

PARENTING COORDINATORS – WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT ARE THEIR POWERS?

 

The term Parental Coordination is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is used in high conflict divorce and custody matters that must be headed by either a mental health professional or a family law professional. This type of alternative dispute resolution is usually used either pre or post divorce proceedings.

The appointment of a Parenting Coordinator is done by either:

  1. A court order;
  2. A parenting plan ; or
  3. By way of a settlement agreement between the parties.

The order or agreement will list the powers and authority of the coordinator and this order is thereafter binding on all parties.

It is paramount to remember that the High Court is the upper guardian of children and therefore can make any decision if it is in the best interests of the child or children.

Although a parental coordinator is a ground breaking integral part of the court system there are however limitaions to keep in mind.

The first limitation is that a coordinator cannot be appointed unless there is some sort of agreement in place that provides for a framework that will assist the parties in how to comply with same.

If an order is not complied with then just as any other breach of a court order, an enforcement of the order can be to comit the person to prison for their contempt.

The second limitation is that the orders need to be in the best interests of the children which must include basic frameworks for things such as:

  1. Care and contact of the child;
  2. Guardianship; and
  3. The termination, extension and supervision of parental responsibilities .

Therefore it is important to remember that the coordinator is a facilitator that makes sure that all the provisions of the order are complied with. They do not create the provisions as this would be considered going against the judicial oversight and tresspasses on the courts exclusive jurisdiction which is entrenched in section 173 of the Consitution. This can be seen as the Third limitation.

The fourth and last limitation is that:

  1. The coordinator can only be involved where there is chronic conflict or unwillingness bewteen the parents to come to an agreement;
  2. Mediation between the parties must have been attempted and must have been unsuccessful or was inappropriate- this is usually in cases of domestic violence where restraining orders are involved; and
  3. The coordinator must be a qualified person whose fees are reasonable and fair.

The Courts therefore favour this approach because of the inherent jurisdiction that is enrenched in the Constitution.

It can therefore be said that we should get used to the increasing appointments of parental coordinators.

For any assistance in a divorce and mediation do not hesitate to call us on 031 003 0630 or 083 789 7638 or email us at charmaine@schwenninc.co.za.

WHAT IS FICA and WHY WE NEED IT?

 

FICA stands for The Financial Intelligence Centre Act, which came into effect on 1 July 2003.

 

FICA was introduced to fight financial crime, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing activities. FICA brings South Africa in line with similar legislation in other countries.

 

FICA is essentially a means to ensure that an institution is required to ”get to know the client”. Financial institutions, like banks or other organizations such as attorneys firms or estate agencies do this by keeping proper records of their clients, requesting particulars and keeping a proper record of where the funds are coming from and where they are going.

 

It is therefore a legal requirement for financial institutions to FICA their clients in order to prevent financial crimes. The Act, places an obligation on the banks/attorneys firms to FICA their clients and it is a criminal offence for them not to do so.

 

The failure to FICA clients can lead to a prision sentence (ranging from 5 to 15 years) and or a fine (ranging from R 1 000 000 to R 10 000 000) depending on the offence, hence the

 

Some offences that are punishable under the Act, include, but not limited to;

 

  • Failure to identify persons involved in a contractual obligation
  • Destroying or tampering with records
  • Failure to advice Centre of a suspicious client/person
  • Failure to report cash transactions
  • Failure to report suspicious or unusual transactionsWe have therefore drafted a list of requirements that should be given or requested to your friendly attorney firm (that would be us) or other institution.For individual:
  1. Copy of client’s ID book;
  2. Utility bill – no older than 3 months and showing clearly the clients’ physical address;
  3. SARS document where clients’ SARS registration number is clearly visible.

 

For Companies and CC’s

 

  1. the registered address of the close corporation or company;
  2. the name under which the close corporation or company conducts business;
  3. the address from which the close corporation or company operates, or if it operates from multiple addresses –
    • the address of the office seeking to establish a business relationship; and
    • the address of its head office;
    • the full names, date of birth and identity number or nationality (as may be applicable), concerning –
    • the manager of the company; and
    • each natural person who purports to be authorised to establish a business relationship or to enter into a transaction with the accountable institution on behalf of the company; and
    • the full names, date of birth, identity or registration number, nationality, address and / or legal form, as may be applicable, concerning the natural or legal person, partnership or trust holding 25%  or more of the voting rights in the company.

 

Documents required for companies

  1. identity document; or if a person cannot produce an identity document, another document bearing a photograph of the person and their names, date of birth and identity number;
  2. a document issued by the South African Revenue Services bearing the person’s name and the relevant number;
  3. a utility bill (no older than 3 months) or copy thereof;
  4. Certificate of Incorporation (form CM1) and Notice of Registered Office and Postal Address (form CM22) – Companies.

Documents required for Closed Corporations

  1. identity document; or if a person cannot produce an identity document, another document bearing a photograph of the person and their names, date of birth and identity number;
  2. a document issued by the South African Revenue Services bearing the person’s name and the relevant number;
  3. a utility bill (no older than 3 months) or copy thereof;
  4. Founding Statement and Certificate of Incorporation (form CK1) and Amended Founding Statement (form CK2) if applicable – Close Corporations.

For Partnerships:

  1. the name of the partnership,
  2. the names, date of birth, identity or registration number, nationality, addresses and / or legal form, as may be applicable, concerning, every partner, including every member of a partnership the person who exercises executive control over the partnership;
  3. each natural person who purports to be authorised to establish a business relationship or to enter into a transaction with the accountable institution on behalf of the partnership.

Documents required for Partnerships

  1. identity document for all partners; or if a person cannot produce an identity document, another document bearing a photograph of the person and their names, date of birth and identity number;
  2. a document issued by the South African Revenue Services bearing the person’s name and the relevant number;
  3. a utility bill (no older than 3 months) or copy thereof;
  4. Partnership agreement.

For all your contract/property needs, contact our offices on 031 003 0630 or charmaine@schwenninc.co.za