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The living will

A4Most  people are familiar with a will or testament and understand the importance of having this legal declaration drafted, by which the testator nominates an executor to manage his or her estate and provide for the distribution of his or her property to beneficiaries when he or she dies.

But how many people have considered drafting a living will?

A living will does not deal with assets, heirs and beneficiaries, but with the philosophy of death and dying, and should be considered carefully and drafted by a professional.

A living will is a legal document expressing a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatment when that person can no longer voice his or her wishes. It is also referred to as an advance medical directive.

A typical clause in a living will would read as follows:

If the time comes when I can no longer take part in decisions for my own future, let this declaration stand as my directive.

If I suffer from physical illness or impairment expected to cause me severe distress, rendering  me incapable of rational existence, from which there is no reasonable prospect of recovery,  I withhold my consent to be kept alive by artificial means and do not give my consent to any form of tube-feeding when I am dying; and I request that I receive whatever quantity of drugs and intravenous fluids as may be required to keep me comfortable and  free from pain  even if the moment of death is hastened. I withhold my consent to any attempt at resuscitation, should my heart and breathing stop and my prognosis is hopeless.

The living will tells the doctor and family that the patient does not consent to being kept alive artificially. It speaks for the patient at a time when the patient may be unable to communicate.

South African law and most religions accepts the validity of the living will, but none of the main religions accept euthanasia.

Euthanasia is against the law. Sean Davison, the respected UWC professor who helped his 85-year-old terminally ill mother, Patricia Ferguson, die in New Zealand by preparing a lethal dose of morphine, was arrested in New Zealand in September 2010 on an attempted murder charge.

It is important to have a properly drafted, legal living will to avoid far reaching and traumatic consequences for the loved ones that stay behind.

Many lawyers who practice in the area of estate planning include a living will and a health care power of attorney in their package of estate planning documents.

The advantages of a living will

  1. The directives respect the patient’s human rights, and in particular his or her right to reject medical treatment.
  2. It encourages full discussion about end-of-life decisions.
  3. It also means that the medical staff and caregivers are aware of the patient’s wishes, and knowing what the patient wants means that doctors are more likely to give appropriate treatment.
  4. It will avoid the situation where the patient’s family and friends have to take the difficult decisions.

Disadvantages of a living will

  1. Drafting this document can be very depressing.
  2. The person may still be healthy and not in a position to actually imagine that he or she could ever be in the position where they would voluntarily give up living.
  3. When the time comes to act on the living will the patient might have changed his or her mind and it is then often difficult to amend the document.

Important points to consider

  1. The living will should not be incorporated or attached to the last will and testament, which is only acted upon after death.
  2. A living will does not become effective unless the patient becomes incapacitated; until then the patient will be able to choose appropriate treatment.
  3. A certificate by the patient’s doctor and another independent doctor certifying that the patient is either suffering from a terminal illness or permanently unconscious, is required before the living will becomes effective. In the case of a heart attack, the living will does not take effect. A living will is only executed when ultimate recovery is hopeless.
  4. You have to notify your doctor and family of your living will and preferably have copies of the document available for the doctor, hospital and family.

By Monica Störzner

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Vermaak by jou gunsteling plaaslike restaurant of kwekery: Wie is aanspreeklik vir jou kind se seerkry?

02_kidsresturantWie is aanspreeklik en wie  is  verantwoordelik vir veiligheid in hierdie situasies?Ongelukke gebeur so vinnig, die soort ongelukke wat ‘n dag van opwinding en vreugde in ‘n nagmerrie gevul met afgryse verander. Hierdie tipe fratsongelukke kan binne ‘n oogwink gebeur indien die nodige stappe nie geneem word om hulle te verhoed nie.

Neem jou plaaslike restaurant as ‘n voorbeeld. Deesdae het amper elke restaurant ‘n speelkamer of vermaaklikheidsarea wat tot die beskikking van kinders of kleuters gestel word. Hierdie tipe vermaaklikheidsarea het selfs begin populêr word in kwekerye en by funksies soos troues of partytjies, ten einde die jongelinge besig te hou.

Die vraag bly egter – wie word verantwoordelik gehou vir die versekering van veiligheid by hierdie vermaaklikheidsareas? Wat is die regsposisie vandag in Suid-Afrika?

Om die regsposisie te bepaal moet daar na praktiese voorbeelde gekyk word, dus kyk ons na die voorbeeld van die vermaak aangebied by plaaslike restaurante en kwekerye en ook by funksies. Die Kinderwet sal hier van toepassing wees.

Artikel 140 van die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 is van toepassing indien:

  1. Die plek waar die vermaak aangebied word toeganklik is met deure, trappe, hysers of ‘n ander tipe meganiese toegang;
  2. Die meerderheid mense wat toegang verkry, kinders is; en
  3. Die persone, kinders ingesluit, wat die perseel binnegaan, meer as 50 is.

In die bogemelde geval moet die persoon wat die vermaak aanbied kennis neem van die maatreëls wat vervat word in die Kommentaar op die Kinderwet, spesifiek wat betref Artikel 140.

Die persoon wat vermaak aanbied in ‘n area wat kragtens die bogenoemde vereistes kwalifiseer, moet ingelig wees oor die getal mense, insluitend kinders, wat op die perseel gehuisves kan word en moet ook verseker dat daar ‘n voldoende getal helpers beskikbaar is om toe te sien dat nie te veel kinders die area binnegaan nie. Alternatiewelik moet daar ten tye van toegang verseker word dat dit volkome veilig is om so te doen.

Sou die getal mense (insluitend kinders) wél die getal van 50 oorskry, bly dit die verantwoordelikheid van die aanbieder van die vermaak om alle redelike stappe te doen en voorsorgmaatreëls te tref om die veiligheid van die kinders en ander mense in die vermaaklikheidsarea, deurentyd te verseker.

Ek verwys weer na die voorbeeld van ‘n restaurant of funksie. Hierdie vermaaklikheidsplekke huisves soms groot getalle kinders en selfs kleuters, en dit vereis streng nakoming van die veiligheidsmaatreëls.

Nog ‘n voorbeeld is ‘n kinderpartytjie waar ‘n springkasteel beskikbaar gestel word.  Gestel mnr. X se dogter verjaar en mev. Y bied aan om haar springkasteel by die partytjie op te rig vir die vermaak van die kinders. In hierdie geval is dit mev. Y se verantwoordelikheid om toe te sien dat daar aan alle veiligheidsvereistes voldoen word en sy, as aanbieder van die vermaak, sal  aanspreeklik wees vir die veiligheid van die kinders. Sou mev. Y om die een of ander rede nie aanspreeklik gehou word nie sal die verantwoordelikheid om die veiligheid van die kinders te verseker neerkom op haar volmaggewer as die “agent van die vermaak”.

Dit bly uiters belangrik dat die aanbieder of agent van die vermaak alle redelike stappe moet doen om na die veiligheid van die kinders en selfs die kleuters om te sien en sover moontlik hul veiligheid te verseker. In situasies soos hierdie, waar groot getalle kinders betrokke is, sal strenger veiligheidsmaatreëls vereis word.

Dit bring ons by nog ‘n vereiste, naamlik dat die beweging van deelnemers aan die spesifieke vermaak, deurentyd gemonitor moet word.

Die vereistes om kragtens Artikel 140 te kwalifiseer skep die indruk dat die artikel en sy vereistes slegs van toepassing is op situasies waar vermaak binnenshuis aangebied word maar dit is nie die geval nie. Buitelug-vermaaklikheidsareas waar toegang beheer word is ook aan hierdie kriteria onderhewig.

Buitelugareas soos strande en oop veld word vanselfsprekend uitgesluit aangesien toegang hiertoe nie beheer of beperk word nie.

Opsommend kan ons dus tot die gevolgtrekking kom dat die verpligting om die veiligheid en beskerming van die kinders wat gebruik maak van die vermaaklikheidsareas te verseker, dié is van die “vermaakorganiseerder” of die ”vermaakbestuurder” en dat hierdie persoon die volgende maatreëls moet tref:

  1. Bepaal die maksimum veilige ruimte wat nodig is om die getal kinders en ander mense wat na verwagting die geleentheid sal bywoon, te huisves;
  2. Verseker dat ekstra kinders nie toegelaat word tensy dit veilig is nie;
  3. Beheer die beweging van die kinders in die area;
  4. Verseker dat algehele veiligheid deurentyd gehandhaaf word in die omgewing van die vermaaklikheidsarea en binne die area self.

Daar is egter steeds die gevaar dat iets kan skeefloop en dit bring ons by die stappe wat teen die oortreder gedoen kan word, hoewel daar tans geen kriminele sanksies vasgestel is of in die vooruitsig gestel word nie.

Enige persoon wat behoorlik daartoe gemagtig is deur die munisipale owerheid van die betrokke gebied mag te enige tyd ‘n omheining binnegaan om te verseker dat daar aan alle veiligheidsmaatreëls voldoen word. Sou dit blyk dat daar nie aan die maatreëls voldoen word nie mag die persoon enige lisensie wat uitgereik is om die vermaak te magtig, terugtrek.

Ander maatreëls sluit in munisipale veiligheids- en gesondheidsverordeninge wat toegepas kan word om die aanbied van die geleentheid te verbied totdat die nodige veiligheidsmaatreëls getref is.

Laastens mag, in die geval van besering of skade wat gely word as gevolg van nalatigheid, ‘n deliktuele eis teen die oortreder ingestel word.

Vir meer inligting skakel asseblief vir John Erasmus of Tana du Toit van ons kantore.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Can you apply for a protection order against domestic violence, and what is the meaning of a “domestic relationship”?

sep_4Any person applying for this order is referred to as the “complainant” and the person that committed an act of domestic violence is referred to as the “respondent” by the Act.

There is a whole list of what is considered to be an act of domestic violence and it is not limited to physical violence.  Other acts of violence such as emotional, verbal, physiological, economic and sexual abuse, are all deemed acts of domestic violence.  The list extends the protection to intimidation, harassment, stalking and damage to property.

A “complainant” is any person (including a child in the care of the person), who:

(1)  is or has been in a domestic relationship with a respondent and;

(2)  who is or has been subjected or allegedly subjected to an act of domestic violence.

The Act requires that the complainant and the respondent have to be or should have been in a domestic relationship. The Act defines a domestic relationship as follows:

“domestic relationship” means a relationship between a complainant and a respondent in any of the following ways:

(a)  they are or were married to each other, including marriage according to any law, custom or religion;

(b)  they (whether they are of the same or of the opposite sex) live or lived together in a relationship in the nature of marriage, although they are not, or were not, married to each other, or are not able to be married to each other;

(c)  they are the parents of a child or are persons who have or had parental responsibility for that child (whether or not at the same time);

(d)  they are family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption;

(e)  they are or were in an engagement, dating or customary relationship. including an actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationship of any duration; or

(f)    they share or recently shared the same residence.

The Act casts the protective net very wide, if the definitions of both domestic violence and domestic relationship are considered.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered a judgment that specifically dealt with the interpretation of the definition of a domestic relationship in the Act.  In Daffy v Daffy (2012) 4 ALL SA 607 (SCA) the court held that the concept of “family” in section 1(x)(d) is extremely wide.  More specifically, the definition of a domestic relationship is written poorly, and that the Act does not give a precise meaning in the definition.

The court held that the Act therefore has to be interpreted in order to clearly define the concepts of “domestic relationship”, “family” and “domestic violence”.  In the interpretation of legislation, and this Act specifically, the underlying purpose of the statutory provisions has to be carefully considered and kept in mind. In other words, the reason why this act was passed by government should be taken into account.

The court considered all the surrounding circumstances to determine whether the complainant’s health, safety and well-being were threatened by the respondent’s acts.

In the judgment, the court remarked on other cases where it was held that a domestic relationship involves persons sharing a common household (people living together under one roof). However, the court held that the legislature must have intended a wider definition, but not so wide as to include a mere blood relationship.

The implication of this judgment is far-reaching.

Every matter will have to be individually considered and the relevant factors taken into account. The definitions in the Act can no longer be interpreted as literally as before the Daffy-judgement.   Every court will have to use its discretion to decide whether the persons are indeed in a domestic relationship and can no longer accept that once they fall under the definition, the Act shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Domestic violence reports will have to be considered more carefully, as the complainant and respondent might not be in a domestic relationship and therefore the Act cannot apply.  Those who investigate the claims of domestic violence will have to be alert and attentive to the narrower definition and ensure that the parties are indeed in a “domestic relationship”.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and require a protection order for your own physical and emotional wellbeing, you should obtain legal advice sooner rather than later.  Assistance by an attorney or legal aid clinic in the correct application for a protection order will ensure that the requirements are duly met and that the necessary and correct information be noted in the application.

A victim may also approach the court in his or her personal capacity. The clerks of the domestic violence court will assist you and should be friendly, empathetic and well versed in the requirements of the legislation.

It is of equal importance to obtain legal advice and representation if a protection order is sought against you, particularly as the process is sometimes abused and because of the dire consequences such an order can have on the criminal record of the respondent.

Tana du Toit is the person to contact with regard to domestic violence. Send an email to tana@conradieinc.co.za.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Die verbruiker se regte onder die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming

sep_3Vanaf April 2011 het die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming in volle werking getree, met die gevolg dat dit nou onwettig is om moeilik-om-te-verstaan ​​taal in enige besigheidsdokument of kontrak te gebruik.

Besigheid gaan gewoonlik gepaard met baie papierwerk, of dit nou ‘n kontrak, ‘n brief, `n ooreenkoms of selfs ‘n instruksieboekie is. Hierdie noodsaaklike dokumente is dikwels geskryf in taal wat ​​vir die gemiddelde verbruiker moeilik is om te verstaan.

Die rede waarom daar spesifieke Eenvoudige Taal-regulasies in die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming vervat is, is om die verbruikers te beskerm teen die ondertekening van dokumente wat hulle nie verstaan ​​nie.

Beskerming van die verbruiker

Die Wet se uitdruklike doel is om seker te maak dat verbruikers nie onbillik behandel word nie – doelbewus of  nie. Dit beteken dat die gebruik van eenvoudige taal nou belangriker is as ooit. Die gebruik van vae en verwarrende bewoording, veral in bindende kontrakte, word nie meer toegelaat nie. Om dit eenvoudig te stel, dit is onwettig!

Te veel verbruikers het vroeër in groot moeilikheid beland, veral finansiële moeilikheid, omdat hulle nie verstaan ​het ​wat hulle onderteken het nie. Soms is kontrakte geskryf in opgeblase, burokratiese styl net omdat dit is hoe dit nog altyd was, of omdat die mense wat die kontrakte opstel bloot nie geweet het van enige ander manier om dit te doen nie.

Dikwels, egter, het gewetenlose besighede opsetlik ingewikkelde taal gebruik as ‘n manier om verbruikers te mislei om te betaal vir iets wat hulle nie kan bekostig nie, hul regte weg te teken, of om in te stem tot onbillike terme en voorwaardes.

Omskrywing van eenvoudige taal

Die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming definieer eenvoudige taal in Deel D, Artikel 22 soos volg:

By die toepassing van hierdie Wet, is ’n kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling in gewone taal, indien dit redelik is om tot die gevolgtrekking te kom dat ’n gewone verbruiker van die klas van persone vir wie die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling bedoel is, met gemiddelde geletterdheidsvaardighede en minimale ondervinding as ’n verbruiker van die betrokke goedere of dienste, verwag kan word om die inhoud, betekenis en belang van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling sonder onnodige inspanning te verstaan, met inagneming van:

  • Die samehang, omvattendheid en konsekwentheid van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling;
  • Die organisering, vorm en styl van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling;
  • Die woordeskat, gebruik en sinstruktuur van die kennisgewing, dokument of visuele voorstelling; en
  • Die gebruik van illustrasies, voorbeelde, opskrifte of ander hulpmiddels om te lees en te verstaan.

Dit beteken dat ‘n mens nie dinge so wyd kan omskryf dat dit op verskeie maniere verstaan of geïnterpreteer kan ​​word nie. Die Wet bepaal dat indien daar enige twyfel oor die betekenis van sekere woorde of terme en voorwaardes is, die voordeel ten gunste van die verbruiker sal wees.

Selfs advertensies en bemarking mag nie meer enige onduidelikheid vir die verbruiker daarstel nie. Advertensies word nie toegelaat om te oordryf nie en moet maklik verstaanbaar, regverdig en eerlik wees. Die Wet bepaal dus dat diensverskaffers alles in duidelike en eenvoudige taal wat verbruikers kan verstaan, moet uitspel. Alternatiewelik het  die verbruikers die reg op blootlegging en inligting in eenvoudige en verstaanbare taal.

Dus, moenie uitstel nie. Indien  jy ‘n besigheidsdokument of kontrak het wat al jare gebruik word moet jy dalk met ander oë daarna kyk en dit wysig of herbewoord ten einde te verseker dat dit voldoen aan die Wet op Verbruikersbeskerming.

Kontak gerus vir Andries Conradie by andries@conradieinc.co.za – hy sal sorg dat jy voldoen aan al die vereistes van die Wet.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Me, my neighbour and that tree

sep_2Autumn arrives. The leaves have changed colour and you have actually taken the competition-winning photographs right from your doorstep!

When the leaves start falling, the swimming pool pump has required repairs twice due to blockage and your Saturday golf has been replaced with hauling loads of leaves to the garden refuse.  During the first thunder storm of the new season the wind rips a branch off and whipped the branch through your electric fence, taking all off the wall.

The acorns made dents into your brand new pride and joy whilst the ripe fruit falling down on your lawn has started to rot whilst you were at the beach house.

You can’t wait for them to leave this weekend to jump over the fence with your chainsaw…

Problems with trees from adjacent gardens are as old as townships itself and since man moved into closer proximity to each other.

To merely jump over the fence and prune, or worse, cut down the tree to your satisfaction will not only constitute trespassing but also malicious damage to property.

Many disgruntled neighbour has approached the courts demanding relief.  The courts have carefully considered the basis on which you can approach the court, now generally considered as “nuisance”.

You will have to prove to the court that the inconvenience caused to you by your neighbour’s tree is more than you just being fanciful, elegant or having dainty modes and habits of living.  The inconvenience caused must materially interfere with your ordinary comfort, physically and your human existence.

The standard that the court will consider this infringing of your health, well-being or comfort in occupation of your property, will be that of a normal person of sound and liberal tastes and habits.  The test of reasonableness shall be applied taking into account general norms acceptable to a particular society. Actual damage to your property is not a requirement.

The court will however also consider the nuisance, even if the tree(s) are actually causing damage, balancing this with your responsibility to tolerate the natural consequence of the ordinary use of the land.

In other words, the court will consider the dispute and the decision will involve balancing the competing interests of you and your neighbour.

The judgment of De Vos J in Vogel v Crewe and another 2003 (4) SA 50 (T) raised a further very important aspect.  The environment.

In a world where trees and nature are considered all the more important for our well-being and that of the earth, all the more careful consideration should be taken before a demand for the cutting down of a tree is granted.

De Vos J noted that trees form an essential part of our human environment, not only giving us aesthetic pleasure but also being functional in providing shade, food and oxygen.  And, like many other living things, trees require, in return for the pleasure provided, a certain amount of effort and tolerance.

With our increasing awareness of the importance of protecting our environment, we need to become more tolerant of the inevitable problems caused by the shrinking size of properties and the greater proximity of neighbours and consequently the neighbours’ trees.

Before you sell your property and move to another neighbourhood all together, consider a friendly discussion with your neighbour and his pruning company of choice, from YOUR side of the fence.

Explain to your neighbour which branches of which trees are problematic or show him the cause for your concern.  And be willing to reach an agreement somewhere in the middle, taking the type of tree, its form of growth and the balance of the tree into consideration.  It will not suffice to demand the removal of a large branch unbalancing the tree which will then fall over during the next storm taking down your wall!

If all your efforts, including friendly letters and e-mailed correspondence fall on deaf ears, you are allowed to prune all branches as from the point that it protrude over the wall into your property.  You are not allowed to lean over the wall to cut those branches at the neighbours’ side of the wall.  You will also be responsible for removing the branches from your property after you have pruned the tree in this manner.

So take your cup of tea, and have a good, impartial look at that “offending” tree.  See the insects, the birds fluttering around and the odd lizard.  Tranquil, is it not?

Must that tree go, or can you tolerate its existence, maybe with a little pruning?  Cutting it down, you might just open a view into your neighbours’ garden (or house) which is even less pleasing!

Consider the environment. Tolerate that tree. In the summer you will relish the shade.

Should you need any more information on trees and neighbours, please contact Stephan Bester at stephan@conradieinc.co.za. He has personal experience about both trees and neighbours.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

‘n Nuwe blaadjie vir ons nuusbrief!

sep_1Baie welkom by die eerste opwindende uitgawe van ons nuwe elektroniese nuusbrief. Na dese behoort jy een keer ‘n maand ‘n nuusbrief van ons te ontvang met allerlei interessanthede waarvan ons dink jy bewus moet wees. Lees in hierdie uitgawe van lastige bure, die Verbruikerswet en wat om te doen in geval van gesinsgeweld.

Ons sal elke maand nuwe artikels in ons nuusbrief publiseer. Indien daar ’n onderwerp is waarvan jy meer wil lees, kontak gerus vir Wilna Roux by wilna@conradieinc.co.za en sy sal sorg dat ’n artikel verskyn om jou meer daarvan te vertel. Jy is ook welkom om kommentaar te lewer by dieselfde epos adres.

Geniet die nuusbrief.

A new leaf for our newsletter!

sep_1We welcome you to the first issue of our new exciting electronic newsletter. After this, you should receive a newsletter from us on a monthly basis. In our newsletter you will read about all kinds of interesting facts we think you should know about. In this issue you can read more about troublesome neighbours, the Consumer Protection Act and what to do in the eventuality of family violence.

New articles will be published in each monthly newsletter. Should there be a subject about which you would like to read more, please contact Wilna Roux at wilna@conradieinc.co.za and she will ensure that an article is published to tell you more about it. You are invited to comment on any articles at the same email address.

Enjoy our newsletter.