· Much has been made of ChatGPT and its potential use in the legal field. The first assessment that I have come across, of its potential to draft contracts, was published by Prof Van Eck and, in summation, it is useful for simpler stuff but not great at higher levels: https://www.derebus.org.za/chatting-with-chatgpt-will-attorneys-be-able-to-use-ai-to-draft-contracts/
On the same topic – it is interesting to explore the issue of who owns copyright in the works produced by ChatGPT: https://spoor.com/the-uncertainty-of-ip-ownership-in-the-chatgpt-era/
· Werksmans published a useful note on the, by now, somewhat tired topic of the keeping of beneficial ownership records by trustees: https://www.werksmans.com/legal-updates-and-opinions/trust-transparency-as-a-means-to-combat-money-laundering-what-should-trustees-know/
- A summary by Eversheds, explores the piercing of the corporate veil in labour law, where directors’ labour practices, may lead to them being held personally liable, is worth noting: https://www.golegal.co.za/directors-personal-liability/
- Double jeopardy in employment matters – CDH: https://www.cliffedekkerhofmeyr.com/en/news/publications/2023/Practice/Employment/employment-law-alert-new-charges-does-the-principle-of-double-jeopardy-apply.html
- What is the effect of an attempt to rectify a contract after concursus creditorum in insolvency matters – if this disturbs the ranking of creditors? https://www.cliffedekkerhofmeyr.com/en/news/publications/2023/Practice/Dispute/dispute-resolution-alert-11-april-to-amend-or-not-to-amend-the-effect-of-rectification-on-concursus-creditorum-.html
- Defamation is not my field, but litigants might find a case on the general damages claimable by a trading corporation, for defamation, interesting: Reddell and Others V Mineral Sands Resources (Pty) Ltd and Others 2023 (2) SA 404 (CC) …courtesy of Alan Weber.
- Can general damages be claimed where the plaintiff dies before litis contestatio? Olivier No V Mec for Health, Western Cape and Another 2023 (2) SA 551 (WCC) … again A Weber.
- Alan also drew my attention to a case where a 15-year-old was not properly sworn in/admonished, prior to giving testimony, which rendered the evidence being inadmissible. This reminded me of Judge Thirion, a hard judge, reputedly, having said, after the third failed swearing in of a divorcee, in his guttural, very Afrikaans accent: Mdm when you get married, you say ‘I do’. When you get divorced, you say: ‘so help me G@d’.
Ø A new conveyancing fee guideline is out and should be readily available. If you cannot obtain a copy, ask me.
Ø Whilst on this topic – generally the fee guideline is for everything you need to reasonably do to transfer a property from one person to the other. A conveyancer may charge more or less. Some of us take this to absurd lengths, adding all sorts of fees and disbursements – this week past, the fees and costs charged by a South Coast practitioner, for the standard transfer of a residential house that sold at a price of R1.9m, attracted my attention: we had been asked to take over this transaction as the first conveyancer was making heavy weather of this. On the transfer registering, at turned out that our fee and costs were R58k less than that of the first incumbent.
Ø Gas compliancy certificates should be issued for the transfer of properties in which case gas installations are present. To prevent non-qualified technicians issuing these, a website has been created to check whether the issuers of such certificates are qualified: https://saqccgas.co.za/ ..ex STBB
Ø A colleague, Libo v Aswegen, drew my attention to an SCA judgement dealing with a municipality, levying unreasonably high rates on farmers: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZASCA/2023/25.html
Ø Servitudes (in this case a garden servitude) are often badly drawn and, in this case, a registered servitude was potentially either a praedial or personal servitude: Berzack v Huntrex 277 (Pty) Ltd and others  2 All SA 1 (SCA)
The IMF has cut its forecast for global GDP in the next two years by 0.1 percentage and, worse, warned that South Africa’s fiscal position could deteriorate.
That organisation has predicted our economic growth to be 0.1% for this year.
The fact is that our government continues to take on more expenditure that it can readily afford, and that this uptake will not necessarily stimulate our economy. Furthermore, the results of indifferent governance, corruption and the like is becoming more palpable by the day (take our crumbling road, rail and port networks, not to speak of electricity and water supplies). The latest examples of spending indiscipline are public sector salaries and the intended BIG grants. Note the debt growth in the following graph which indicates our government debt-to-GDP from 2008, extrapolated into 2028:
We are not collecting what is due at secondary level, municipal debt has reached crisis levels – resulting in the intended municipal debt relief that will be extended to municipalities who owe Eskom – whilst the latter entity burns 45,000L of diesel per hour to keep the lights on. The fact is that you cannot provide local services if you are not being paid for it; resorting to a central government bailout, is simply shifting the burden from consumers to those who pay tax.
Figures that boggled my mind, coupled with comment on education and the promotion of equality were: South Africa produces some 200,000 graduates annually (these persons we need to aune a reasonable income to compensate the state for funding their studies). Last year 1.17 million new taxpayers were registered with SARS. Of these only 0.5% (6127) contributed personal income tax. At the same time, the employment cost of suitable AA candidates to fill posts is huge as there is a dearth of capable candidates to employ. I would not venture an opinion on the reason for this, save to note that our education spend is not producing a positive result for our country.
Yet our government is on a drive to intensify its promotion of AA employment, despite growing opposition and a realisation that AA has in 25 years not produced much for the greater part of our society.
A note for attorneys in South Africa: our Post Office is on the ropes. It owns Docex, a postal delivery system which was, once, the primary postal delivery system used by this profession in South Africa. My perception is that subscribers to Docex are waning and that the Docex cost per document is virtually the same as that of courier companies who fetch from your office and deliver at the next address on the following day.
Rode reports that:
The office market seems to have bottomed out but is still plagued by oversupply, remote working and other factors. Nationally, rentals for grade-A space rose by 3.2% in nominal terms during Q1/23 but this is still 3% less than the nominal value in 2019.
Cape Town seems to have been the only centre in which above inflation rental growth in this sector occurred. Durban is down by 2.3%.
The industrial market is substantially better off with increased rentals and low vacancy rates.
The housing market boasts a nominal price increase of only 2.5% in the first two months of this year, compared to last year. In real terms house prices are still declining sharply.
Rental-wise, the Western Cape has a low (2%) rental vacancy rate compared to Gauteng at some 10%, with KZN standing at 14%.
Looking at the above, it is understandable that Moneyweb reports that landlords are also following the semi-gration route to the Western Cape.
Dysfunctional electrical supplies result in homeowners buying generators for short-term relief: especially in tightly packed areas such as flats and sectional schemes, the noise and fumes produced by such installations will upset neighbours. Obtain consent.
On the same bent; a BusinessDay report on Standard Bank saying that you should not extend your home loan to take on solar power, makes partial sense: on the one hand, loans with property as security, is cheaper than ordinary loans, and, on the other, a solar power installation has a lifetime of some 10 years whilst most bonds run for 20 years. Paying for something which you would have to pay again for in 10 years, may not be such a great investment (irrespective of its usefulness).
A huge ado was made of the Thabo Bester escape: the most damning of all was that by October 2022, Justice Minister Lamola knew of his escape, yet did little. If it were not for the free press, we would not even have known this.
A note by Thotshe, raised an interesting point: why should taxpayers pay for the upkeep those who have, in this case, 11 children? A child grant to prevent the stunting of children, is one thing but, having to pay for those who serially conceive, is another. Some 22% of South African children are stunted in one way or another owing to childhood malnutrition. Poverty is the primary reason for this but, having children when one cannot afford them, should be discouraged.
‘Judges as persons, or courts as institutions, are entitled to no greater immunity from criticism than other persons or institutions. Judges must be kept mindful of their limitation and of their ultimate public responsibility by vigorous stream of criticism expressed with candor however blunt.’
Justice Felix Frankfurter USA
“A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”
“One day I’ll be thankful that my kid is strong willed but that will not be today, not in this grocery store.”
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”
“Why do you have so many kids?”
– “Because my spouse and I really love each other!”
– “We couldn’t afford a TV.”
– “Have you seen my spouse?”
– “The tax credits are great money.”