Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

For a change there is a lot going on in practice:

Short news:

  • Deeds office delays are back with us – one of these is occasioned by the Deeds View system which has been off-line for a week and which resulted in no copies being available and so on.
  • A new conveyancing fee guide has been published.
  • The Hortors Legal Diary will be discontinued.
  • The RAF is only R300bn in the red – it awards claims of some R51bn per annum but receives R1.25bn per month. Do the sum. So, it responds by kicking the can down the road, saying that it will not pay out capital sums in the future. The fact is that RAF things are not going to get better. Oh yes: its former CEO faces fraud allegations and has failed to honour personal payments totalling R23m. Interestingly, this very same gentleman provided working capital/funding to lawyers who deal with RAF claims! Clearly a man who embraces every opportunity.
  • Judge Hlope naturally disagrees with the findings of the JSC against him; more interesting is his repeated use of his friendly attorney who is already in hot water for having been awarded work by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries and failing to repay the sums due. I am tempted to say more but caution is the word.
  • Some 15 police were put to flight by abalone strippers at Pearly Beach – three bakkies filled with supporters, armed with sticks, stones and pangas did the deed and freed one of their mates in the process…kinda makes one long for just a little kragdadigheid

Hard news:

Of dinosaurs (those espousing dated mores) and the New South African Way:

  • When I was young, the strongest censure that would come from a real Englishman was to say that something was, gobble gobble, unacceptable
    • I listened with some disgust at the questioning of wannabe SCA judges by, amongst others, our Chief Justice. His one question was clearly grandstanding to the press and unanswerable. I confess that such questioning and questioning by those who are clearly not qualified to do so, such as Mr Malema, is unacceptable.
    • The term good title encompasses much more than having a deed registered at the deeds office. It presupposes that everything in the run-up to transfer is done properly and appropriately. There is much more to the conveyancing system than to get a deed registered in a deeds office. This week it came to my attention that one of our colleagues in Pietermaritzburg was clearly bending the rules to his/her advantage and was proud of his/her achievements, publicly comparing him herself favourably to his/her colleagues. I grew up with the understanding that, as officers of our High Court, it was incumbent upon attorneys as a profession, to assist in maintaining the system of the administration of justice, in which is included the smooth functioning of our Deeds Offices. To take advantage, nay to go beyond this and solicit an advantage, over other practitioners, to the detriment of the smooth functioning of a system, with only one’s own interest at heart, is unacceptable.
    • A colleague, a conveyancer (such a generic as would be described by real lawyers as backwater practitioners) forwarded me an account by a litigant from Gauteng who had claimed an account of 39 hours X R4000 for drawing a deed of sale. The man was accommodating to his client and discounted this account by half and charged only R78000, plus VAT. Us backwater practitioners would do this in an hour and probably for free. Unacceptable.

Economy

Us ordinary folks reasonably expect the Rand to weaken, our economy and our politics being in tatters and all… Yet the Rand touched its strongest levels in two years this past week: why (in an answer we can all understand)? Because our economy is weak, we therefore buy less from overseas and because commodities are strong, overseas entities buy more from us, resulting in more money coming in than going out.

Why do men die at a younger age than women? Because they want to… In seriousness, the average life expectancy of men is now 64.6 years, and for women, 71.3 years.

Salga has called for financially distressed municipalities to cut wages in real terms and has proposed a 2.8% wage increase. The SA Municipal Workers Union wants a R4000 raise across-the-board (government employees 17.1%). Union navel gazing…

Business

Going Zim? Ketlaphela was formed by our state in 2012 to de-commodify the essential medicines supply. Look at its website and the products that it manufactures: https://www.ketlaphela.co.za/index.php/products . Not a single pill. The reason, apparently, is that no one wants to partner with us, apparently put off by the high hurdle of the qualifying criteria; amazing – don’t even venture a guess.

Everybody and his dog: MBB reports discounted flights from BA over the period April – November i.e., Johannesburg to East London R499, Johannesburg to Cape Town R679, and so on. Lift responded by making provision for passengers to take a small dog (SKKies; aka bedroom-dogs) in a pet-friendly carry bag – and you thought children were bad?

An interesting development is a move towards SARS doing its own thing on prosecutions for tax violations. I am not surprised; the average prosecutor is ill-equipped to deal with tax legislation. What does interest me is whether the equally ill-equipped Magistrate’s Court bench (as far as tax is concerned) will be able to deal with such issues in smaller cases.

A development that will touch us all, is a proposed phasing out of (energy-saving) compact fluorescent lamps in favour of LEDs.

Property

House prices are again rising: the FNB’s House Price Index shows an appreciation of 4.5% y-o-y for March: the rise is attributed to a shrinking supply of sellers. The affordable market is still doing well.

The prediction is that the mini boom in property will not last.

An interesting development, which one can probably attribute to the house-price hiatus, is that there has been a 50% increase in the number of people investing in additional properties – primarily for holiday/rental purposes.

Electricity costs make up between 42 – 54% of municipal bills and water accounts for 16 – 28% of total charges. The average municipal bill for services ranges from R1425 for low-income households to R6119 for high-income households.

Information taken from a PropertyProfessional article, says that, of the 46,000 registered estate agents, some 20,000 are white, 6000 are black and 4000 are Indian and coloured. The sum does not quite add up – perhaps further training is required..

Quotables

Where is it taking us – this governing party that speaks left, acts right, rejects capitalism, but loves the wealth it has created for its members?

Mamokgethi Molopyane

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

Adam Smith

Lighten up

Q: what do you call a bunch of lawyers?

A: an eloquence of lawyers.

Q: what you call a bad lawyer

A: a pettifogger

Q: how does an attorney sleep?

A: first he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.

Q: how can you tell if a lawyer is well hung? 

A: you can’t get a finger between the rope and his neck!

Q: why did god make snakes just before lawyers?

A: to practice.

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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