Monthly Archives: October 2013

Konstruktiewe ontslag: Laaste uitweg?

art01Konstruktiewe ontslag het ‘n gerieflike uitweg geword vir ontevrede werknemers. Baie werknemers besef te laat dat hulle nie in aanmerking kom om van die Werkloosheidversekeringsfonds te eis nie weens die feit dat hulle uit vrye wil bedank het. Dus word  allerhande stories deur die werknemer opgemaak  in ‘n poging om te bewys dat konstruktiewe ontslag plaasgevind het.

Definisie van konstruktiewe ontslag

Die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge 66 van 1995 (soos gewysig) het statutêre status aan konstruktiewe ontslag verleen.

Artikel 186 (1) (e) bepaal dat “ontslag” onder andere beteken dat  “n werknemer sy of haar dienskontrak beëindig met of sonder kennisgewing omdat die werkgewer voortgesette diens vir die werknemer ondraaglik maak.”

Met ander woorde, die werknemer word verplig om te bedank weens onregverdige druk, instruksies of onredelike gedrag van die werkgewer.

Konstruktiewe ontslag vind dus plaas wanneer die werkgewer die voortgesette diens of die werksomstandighede van die werknemer so ondraaglik maak dat hierdie omstandighede gesien word as `n vorm van ontslag.

Bewyslas en bewysregtelike aspekte

Konstruktiewe ontslag is ‘n buitengewone vorm van ontslag, en word nie maklik deur howe aanvaar nie.

Oor die algemeen moet die  werkgewer  bewys dat  ontslag prosedureel en substantief billik en geregverdig is, maar weens die unieke aard van konstruktiewe ontslag, rus die bewyslas op die werknemer om te bewys dat konstruktiewe ontslag, op `n oorwig van waarskynlikhede, plaasgevind het.

Die werknemer sal die hof van die volgende faktore moet oortuig, om suksesvol met sy/haar eis te wees:

  1. voortgesette diens het ondraaglik geword vir hom/haar;
  2. die werkgewer het voortgesette diens ondraaglik gemaak;
  3. bedanking was die laaste uitweg vir hom/haar omdat geen redelike alternatiewe beskikbaar was nie;
  4. hy/sy moes voor die bedanking ‘n grief ingedien het;
  5. hy/sy moes inderdaad die dienskontrak beëindig het deur bedanking; en
  6. hy/sy was nie van plan om die dienskontrak te beëindig nie maar bedanking was die laaste uitweg.

Hierdie is `n objektiewe toets om te bepaal of die situasie geduld kan word al dan nie, en hang nie af van die werkgewer of werknemer se persepsie of subjektiewe persoonlike opinie daaroor nie.

Verder moet die werknemer bewys dat hy/sy steeds werksaam by die betrokke werkgewer sou wees as dit nie was vir die werkgewer se optrede nie.

As die werknemer bewys het dat hy/sy konstruktief ontslaan is, skuif die bewyslas na die werkgewer om te bewys dat die werknemer se bedanking onredelik was.

Toets vir konstruktiewe ontslag

Die toets om te bepaal of  ‘n werknemer konstruktief ontslaan is, is  uiteengesit in Pretoria Genootskap v Loots (1997) 18 ILJ 981 (LAC) [ook berig by [1997] 6 BLLR 721 (LAC). Daar is bevind dat die toets vir konstruktiewe ontslag is of die werkgewer sonder redelike gronde opgetree het op ‘n wyse wat bereken was om die vertrouensverhouding tussen die werknemer en die werkgewer te vernietig of ernstig te skaad, of waarskynlik hierdie gevolg sou hê.

Die hof se funksie is om te bepaal of die werkgewer se optrede as ‘n geheel onredelik en onregverdig was.

Geskille

Geskille oor ‘n moontlike konstruktiewe ontslag moet na die KVBA/Bedingingsraad verwys word.

Die  werknemer moet bewus wees van die moeite om konstruktiewe ontslag te bewys, veral omdat, indien die eis vir konstruktiewe ontslag onsuksesvol is, die bedanking steeds van krag sal wees.

Indien jy meer inligting oor hierdie onderwerp verlang, is jy welkom om ons kantoor te kontak by info@conradieinc.co.za.

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.

Donations

art02A donation is defined in the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962 as “any gratuitous disposal of property including any gratuitous waiver or renunciation of a right.”  The donor may therefore not receive anything in return from the donee, as this will constitute an exchange agreement.

There are two types of donation, viz. donatio inter vivos (donation between two persons who are both alive) and donatio mortis causa (a donation where the donee will only receive the donation on the death of the donor).

The requirements for both an inter vivos and a mortis causa donation are:

  1. The donor must make an offer to donate, which offer must be accepted by the donee;
  2. The donor must have the necessary legal capacity to make the donation and the donee must have the necessary legal capacity to accept the donation;
  3. Anything that a person can trade (in commercio), can be donated;
  4. A donation must be legal and feasible; and
  5. A donation must be identified or identifiable.

Donations can also be withdrawn.  In the case of an inter vivos donation, the donor can at any time before the donee accepts the donation, withdraw such donation.  After acceptance of the donation by the donee, a valid contract has been formed and the donor will only be able to withdraw the donation in the case of gross ingratitude on the part of the donee, e.g. if the donee threatens the donor’s life.  A mortis causa donation can be repealed at any time before the donor’s death, as the donation will only be ratified on the death of the donor.

Finally, and probably of the most importance to some people, is the matter of donations tax payable to the Receiver of Revenue.  Currently donations tax is calculated at 20% of the fair market value of the property donated.

In terms of article 59 of the Income Tax Act, the donor is liable for payment of donations tax within three months after the donation was made.  If the donor fails to pay the tax timeously, the donor and the donee will be jointly and severally liable for the payment thereof.  An individual can make a donation of R100 000 per annum, free of donations tax.

There are also a few exemptions in terms of section 56 of the Income Tax Act, which should be noted. They include the following:

  1. A donation in terms of a duly registered prenuptial or postnuptial contract to the spouse of the donor;
  2. A donation between spouses who are still married to each other;
  3. A donation in the form of donatio mortis causa (this donation occurs in terms of the donor’s will and is therefore not subject to donations tax);
  4. A donation that was cancelled within six months after it was made; and
  5. Donations to certain public benefit organisations.

If spouses are married in community of property they should pay attention to section 57A of the Income Tax Act.  If any property, which forms part of the joint estate of both spouses is donated by one of the spouses, such donation shall be deemed to have been made in equal shares by each spouse.  However, if property that has been donated by one of the spouses belongs to only that spouse (the donor), the donation shall be deemed to have been made solely by the spouse who made the donation.

There are several factors to keep in mind when making a donation and it is therefore advisable to consult with an expert to discuss the tax and legal implications before a decision is made. Wilna Roux can help you with these difficult decisions. Contact her at wilna@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.

The New Companies Act: What implications does it have for your company?

art04The new Companies Act came into effect on 1 May 2011 and thereby we have entered a new era of company law. As expected the new Act initially led to a fair amount of confusion, especially with regard to the implications for existing companies.

In terms of the transitional provisions of the new Act existing companies were afforded a period of 2 (two) years to register a new Memorandum of Incorporation, which complies with the provisions of the new Act.

During this transition period, the provisions of existing companies’ Articles of Association, Memoranda of Association and Shareholders Agreements, with a few exceptions, prevailed  over the provisions of the new Act, if there were any discrepancies with the provisions new Act.

After the two (2) year transition period expired on 30 April 2013 any provision in a company’s existing Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association or Shareholders Agreement that is inconsistent with the provisions of the new Act, are void to the extent that it does not comply with the provisions of the Act.

The new Act distinguishes between alterable and unalterable provisions.  Companies are not allowed to alter the substance or effect of unalterable provisions in their Memorandum of Incorporation unless the provision in the Memorandum of Incorporation is more onerous than the unalterable provisions of the Act. Companies however have the freedom to change the alterable provisions of the Act in their Memorandum of Incorporation to suit their unique needs.

The directors of existing companies should give careful consideration to certain major changes introduced by the new Act and the implications for their companies, especially regarding the following:

  • Directors duties, conduct and liability.
  • Shareholders’ right to receive notice or have access to any information.
  • Shareholders’ and directors’ meetings and the adoption of resolutions.
  • Fundamental transactions, takeovers and offers.
  • Change of Name especially for non – profit companies.
  • The possibility for the board of directors to issue company rules make in respect of certain management aspects that are not provided for by the Act or the company’s Memorandum of Incorporation.
  • Shareholders Agreements:
    Unlike the previous position where a Shareholders’ Agreement, signed by all shareholders, prevailed over a company’s Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association, the provisions of a Shareholders’ Agreement, which is inconsistent with provisions of a company’s Memorandum of Incorporation or provisions of the new Act is void in so far as it is inconsistent.Shareholders’ Agreements should therefor also be reviewed to ensure that it complies with the provisions of the new Act.
    For example:   A typical Shareholders’ Agreement normally provides that a company may not issue shares without the prior written consent of all the shareholders or without a prior authorization by special resolution. In terms of the new Act, a company’s directors are authorized to issue shares, unless the powers of the board of directors are limited by the company’s Memorandum of Incorporation. The powers of the board can therefor not be limited in a Shareholders’ Agreement, but should be limited in the company’s Memorandum of Incorporation.
  • In future only new shares without par value can authorized.
  • The new Act requires special resolutions for certain actions, which was not required in terms of the old Act.
    For example: The remuneration of directors in terms of the new must be authorized by a special resolution taken in the preceding two ( 2 ) years.
  • Audit requirements.
  • Trading under insolvent circumstances – In terms of the old Companies Act directors were personally liable for the debts of a company if the business was carried on recklessly. In terms of the new Act it is however prohibited for a company to continue trading in insolvent circumstances.
  • Business rescue: It aims to rehabilitate companies under financial distress.
  • Solvency and liquidity test: In terms of the new Companies Act, a company must pass the solvency and liquidity test before certain actions can be performed.
    For example: The approval of a distribution of profits by the board.

Although the new Companies Act aims to simplify the legislative framework of companies, it has unfortunately led to a lot of uncertainty in various aspects and potential problems. Companies’ directors are recommended to review their current  Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association or Shareholders Agreement to ensure that it does not contain provisions inconsistent with the provisions of the new Act and thereby be rendered void.

Please contact Andries Conradie at andries@conradieinc.co.za or Stephan Bester at stephan@conradieinc.co.za to assist you with your company’s documentation.

This article contains general information and should therefore not be utilized as legal or other professional advice. No responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions or any damages or loss resulting from the use of any information contained herein. Always contact your legal advisor for advice.

Om te trou of nie te trou nie…

art05Wanneer ‘n man die groot vraag aan die liefde van sy lewe vra en sy aanvaar, kan daar gesê word dat hulle ‘n kontrak aangegaan het om in die toekoms te trou. Wanneer die verlowing egter verbreek word kom dit dikwels voor dat die verontregte party sy/haar eks wil dagvaar vir die verbreking van die belofte om te trou, oftewel troubreuk.

Onlangse hofuitsprake betreffende die verbreking van ‘n troubelofte

Alhoewel daar  frustrasie en hartseer na die verbreking van ‘n verlowing ervaar kan word, is die realiteit dat dit nie so maklik is om te slaag met ‘n monetêre eis teen iemand wat nie hul beloftes nakom nie.

Oor die jare het ons gemene reg die beginsel dat die verontregte party ‘n eis vir troubreuk het, erken. Tradisioneel bestaan die eis ​​uit twee dele:-

  1. Die deliktuele eis wat die verontregte party sou hê onder actio  injuriarum vir contumelia, met ander woorde, skadevergoeding vir die vernedering wat veroorsaak word as gevolg van die verbreking van die verhouding en:
  2. Die kontraktuele eis vir die werklike finansiële verlies deur die verontregte party gely as gevolg van die verbreking van die verhouding tussen die partye.

Van Jaarsveld v Bridges (2010) SCA

In die Appèlhofsaak Van Jaarsveld v Bridges (2010) is bevind dat geen eis in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg bestaan ​​anders as werklike uitgawes aangegaan in die beplanning en voorbereiding van die huwelik nie. Ten opsigte van troubreuk het Harms DP die aandag gevestig op ‘n hof se reg en belangriker, sy plig, om die gemene reg te ontwikkel, met inagneming van die belang van geregtigheid, en om terselfdertyd die gees, strekking en oogmerke van die Handves van Menseregte te bevorder.

Harms DP het gesê dat hy nie kan aanvaar dat die partye wanneer hulle beloof om met mekaar te trou, op daardie stadium van hul verhouding sou dink dat die beëindiging van hul verlowing finansiële gevolge sou hê asof hulle in werklikheid getroud is nie. Die aanname van die twee partye is dat hulle egtelike bestel bepaal sal word deur hul komende huwelik. Harms DP het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat in sy opinie ‘n verlowing meer ‘n onafdwingbare pactum de contrahendo is wat ‘n spatium deliberandi verskaf- ‘n tyd om mekaar beter te leer ken en om te besluit of die partye uiteindelik met mekaar wil trou al dan nie.

ES Cloete v A Maritz (2013) WCH

Die vraag of ‘n eis vir troubreuk ‘n geldige skuldoorsaak in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg is, is  weer vanjaar in die Wes-Kaapse Hooggeregshof  oorweeg.

In die saak voor Regter Robert Henney het mej. ES Cloete beweer dat mnr. A Maritz die groot vraag op 9 Februarie 1999 in Namibië gevra het, met ‘n verloofring, en dat sy aanvaar het. Die verhouding was onstuimig en ‘n dekade later het Maritz die verlowing verbreek en die beplande troue gekanselleer en haar vertel dat daar ‘n nuwe persoon in sy lewe is.

Cloete het Maritz gedagvaar en beweer dat Maritz se weiering om met haar te trou neerkom op `n repudiasie van die ooreenkoms wat hulle 10 jaar vroeër bereik het.

Haar eis

Cloete se eis was drieledig:

  1. Sy wou terugbetaling hê van R26 000,00 wat sy in 1994 en 1996 aan hom gegee het in vir ‘n besigheid waarin hy betrokke was.
  2. Sy wou R6,5 miljoen hê om te vergoed vir die finansiële voordele wat sy sou geniet het indien hulle voortgegaan het met die huwelik, insluitende bedrae vir die gebruik en genot van die huis in ooreenstemming met die lewenstyl wat hulle tydens hul saamleef gehandhaaf het. Sy het ook onderhoud van R8 500,00 per maand vir 25 jaar geëis.
  3. Ten slotte wou sy R250 000,00 hê as skadevergoeding vir die verbreking van sy belofte om met haar te trou en vir vernedering van haar persoonlike waardigheid en reputasie.

Sy eis

Maritz het die aantygings ontken en geargumenteer dat Cloete die een was wat die troue gekanselleer het en dat hy dit bloot aanvaar het.

Maritz het ‘n spesiale pleit aangeteken dat die “breach of promise to marry” nie ‘n geldige skuldoorsaak in ons reg is nie, gebaseer op die Appèlhof se uitspraak in Van Jaarsveld v Bridges 2010 (4) SA 558 (SCA), ‘n uitspraak wat hierdie hof verplig was om te volg.

Uitspraak

In sy uitspraak het Regter R Henney gesê: ” Clearly, to hold a party accountable on a rigid contractual footing where such a party fails to abide by a promise to marry, does not reflect the changed mores, morals or public interest of today.”

Regter Henney het verder die mening uitgespreek dat oorwegings van openbare beleid en ons eie gemeenskap se veranderde gewoontes nie kan toelaat dat ‘n party gedwing word om op ‘n suiwer kontraktuele grondslag toekomstige skadevergoeding te betaal as so ‘n party uit ‘n persoonlike verhouding wil tree en dus troubreuk pleeg nie. So ‘n situasie is volgens die regter heeltemal onhoudbaar en kan nie toegelaat word nie.

Die regter het voorts gesê: “As pointed out by Sinclair, The Law of Marriage Vol 1 (1996), to hold a party liable for contractual damages for breach of promise may in fact lead parties to enter into marriages they do not in good conscience want to enter into, purely due to the fear of being faced with such a claim.  This is an untenable situation.”

Ten slotte

Morele waardes en tye het verander. Egskeiding was vroeër slegs moontlik in die geval van egbreuk of verlating, maar is nou moontlik in die geval van onherstelbare verbrokkeling van die huwelik. Daar is geen rede waarom ‘n geregverdigde beweegrede vir die beëindiging van ‘n verlowing nie die gebrek aan begeerte om met die betrokke persoon te trou kan insluit nie, ongeag die “skuld” van laasgenoemde.  Onwilligheid om te trou is `n duidelike bewys van die onherstelbare verbrokkeling van die verlowing. Dit is onlogies om meer ernstige gevolge aan ‘n verlowing te heg as aan ‘n huwelik.

Maritz se spesiale pleit is gehandhaaf en daar is bevind dat die eis vir die verbreking van die belofte nie ‘n geldige skuldoorsaak in Suid-Afrikaanse reg daarstel nie. Soos blyk uit die voorgaande bestaan daar slegs `n eis vir die werklike uitgawes aangegaan in die voorbereiding vir die huwelik.

Tana du Toit is ons familiereg-spesialis. Kontak haar gerus by tana@conradieinc.co.za.

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.