Monthly Archives: September 2013

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.