View Online  |  Forward Newsletter  |  Print to PDF
July 2018

Dear Client / Geagte Kliënt


Newsletter
 
 

Electronic Signatures: Are They Valid?

Vir jare reeds maak kontrakterende partye en hul regsverteenwoordigers staat op ‘n nie-afwykings klousule of meer bekend as die sogenaamde “non-variation clause” waarvolgens die terme van ‘n ooreenkoms slegs by wyse van ‘n skriftelike dokument wat deur die partye onderteken is, gewysig kan word.

In the case Spring Forest Trading v Wilberry (725/13) [2014] ZASCA 178 this absolute reliance on this practice came under scrutiny in light of the provisions of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (hereinafter “the Act”). The gist of the dispute was whether the agreed terms of non-variation, in particular requiring the signatures of both parties, were achieved via electronic correspondence.

 
In onderhawige geval het alle ooreenkomste tussen die partye dieselfde nie-afwykings klousule bevat. Na ‘n geskil tussen hulle ontstaan het, het die partye bymekaar gekom en is sekere voorstelle mondelings gemaak en daar is toe ooreengekom dat die partye daaroor sou besin en daarna aan mekaar sou bevestig of die voorstelle aanvaar word, of al dan nie. Die volgende dag, het die partye deur middel van vyf elektroniese epos boodskappe tussen hulle, daardie voorstelle bevestig.  Daarop het die besigheidseienaar toe die keuse uitgeoefen, om die ooreenkoms te kanselleer, synde ooreenkomstig een van voorstelle. Die name van die persone wat onderskeidelik namens die partye opgetree het, soos normaalweg die geval is, het verskyn aan die voet  van elk van die betrokke epos boodskappe.

Following this the former business operator instituted proceedings in the Durban High Court, interdicting the business owner from continuing the business with a new operator, citing (regarding the cancellation) non-compliance with the non-variation clause and, thus, that the business owner was acting in breach of the agreements between the parties. The interdict was granted, and the business owner appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, arguing valid cancellation of the agreements.

Die voormelde Wet maak daarvoor voorsiening dat formele vereistes ten opsigte van skrif en handtekeninge voorgeskryf deur ‘n wet, of wat deur die partye tot 'n ooreenkoms, self voorgeskryf word,  by wyse van elektroniese medium nagekom kan word. Die Wet skryf spesifiek voor dat, met verwysing na die formalisering en geldigheid van ooreenkomste dat “an agreement is not without legal force and effect merely because it was concluded partly or in whole by means of data messages.”

The Court on Appeal found that the agreed requirement of writing, subject to exceptions, is satisfied if writing takes the form of a data message. In the case under consideration, there was no dispute that this requirement was met. In so far as signatures are concerned, the Act, however, distinguishes between an “advanced electronic signature” and an “electronic signature”. In short, when a signature is required by law, and the type of signature is not specified, the “advanced electronic signature” is applied, and when a signature is required by agreement as between the parties to an electronic transaction, and the type of signature is not specified, the “electronic signature” is applied subject to stipulated conditions. In the case under discussion, it was held that the non-variation clause’s signature requirement was met by the “electronic signature.”

Die enigste verdere vraag wat die Hof moes beantwoord was, of die name van die partye aan die einde van hul onderskeie epos boodskappe inderdaad handtekeninge daarstel. Die Wet omskryf ‘n elektroniese handtekening as “data attached to, or incorporated in, or logically associated with other data and which is intended by the user to serve as a signature.” Dus, so lank as wat data bedoel is om as 'n handtekening te dien en logies met ander data verband hou, word die handtekening vereiste nagekom.

Die Appèlhof se uiteindelike bevinding was dat die korrespondensie via epos boodskappe in ooreenstemming met die bepalings van die nie-wysigings klousule is, soos bedoel word in die Wet en bevestig dus die geldigheid van die kansellasie per epos van die ooreenkomste tussen die partye .

It must be borne in mind that this dispute really pivoted on interpretation of the law and its application to the merits. The merits were not in dispute; the parties did not dispute the content of the electronic messages, nor the identity of the respective authors. Judgment in this matter, through interpretation of the law, has not created law that did not already exist but highlights the ease with which a contract, that may previously have been considered ‘bulletproof’, could easily be amended by a lay person through, what is now, an everyday activity. 

Wees dus versigtig wanneer boodskappe gestuur word, nie net per epos nie, maar ook by wyse van ander elektroniese medium soos sms, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger en Twitter se direkte boodskap fasiliteit (as enkele van vele voorbeelde) wat, gegewe die regte omstandighede, baie maklik die basis kan vorm van ‘n geldige wysiging van ‘n velerlei van ooreenkomste.


 
 
 
ArticleImage  
Costs Payable By The Seller During The Transfer Process
It is common knowledge that the purchaser is responsible for the payment of the transfer costs and bond registration costs (if applicable) during the transfer process. However, as the seller, you will also be liable for costs during the transfer process. 


Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dagvaar ‘n Insolvente Skuldenaar – kan jy iets van “sy” Trust verhaal?  
ArticleImage
‘n Persoon skuld jou miljoene rande, maar dit blyk dat hy niks in sy eie naam het nie. Nou kom dit onder jou aandag dat daar wel aansienlike bates in “sy” familietrust gehou word. Jy vermoed ook dat hierdie bates in werklikheid syne is, maar dat dit in trust versteek is om die bates teen beslaglegging deur sy persoonlike skuldeisers en teen gevolglike uitwinning te beskerm. Kan jy iets daaromtrent doen? 

Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ArticleImage  
Depressed and Dismissed – A Hard Lesson for a Hard Employer
Our courts are not gentle with employers who contravene our labour laws, particularly in cases of automatic unfairness and unfair discrimination. A recent Labour Court decision involved an employee who was summarily dismissed for misconduct after a disciplinary enquiry, despite being diagnosed with depression. 

The outcome is a reminder to employers to tread with extreme care in cases where misconduct may be linked to some form of mental disorder or disability. We discuss the facts, the Court’s findings, and the mistakes the employer made…
Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Om jou van te verander – Jou keuses by huweliksluiting, egskeiding en afsterwe van ‘n lewensmaat  
ArticleImage
Ons name is vir ons belangrik. Op ‘n persoonlike vlak sowel as in ‘n verskeidenheid van praktiese en wetlike omstandighede. 

As vrou het jy ‘n verskeidenheid van keuses oor die van wat jy kan gebruik. Na huweliksluiting, na egskeiding en na afsterwe van jou lewensmaat. 

As vrou is dit jou persoonlike keuses om uit te oefen. Ons kyk na die opsies en na die gevolge van jou besluit en hoe dit ander kan raak.
Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ArticleImage  
How To Escape From A Property Suretyship
Signing surety for another’s debts carries huge risk. Yet every day directors of property holding companies happily sign personal suretyships for their company’s (usually substantial) debts. 

The problem is that it all seems so safe in the beginning. You need a bank loan to buy or develop a property, you’ve done your homework and the deal’s a good, sensible one. It’s only when things go wrong down the line that your signature on that suretyship document comes back to haunt you, and by then it’s far too late – or is it?
Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Our Directors
             
       
    Hennie van Zyl
DIRECTOR
021 180 4551 / 083 250 9501
hvanzyl@vzk.co.za
      Eberhard Kruger
DIRECTOR
021 180 4552 / 082 789 1706
ekruger@vzk.co.za
      Cheryl-Anne Ehrenreich
DIRECTOR
021 180 4564 / 082 783 7242
cheryl@vzk.co.za
   
     Full Bio →

       Full Bio →

       Full Bio →

   
             
 
 
 
 
 
 

© LawDotNews & Van Zyl Kruger Inc. This newsletter is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal 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.

VAN ZYL KRUGER INCORPORATED (REG. NO 2015/174073/21) (VAT NUMBER 413 0273 172)


www.vzk.co.za

Suite A4-2, Avanti Building, South Block,
cnr Carl Cronje Drive & Bill Bezuidenhout Avenue, Bellville, Cape Town

info@vzk.co.za | Reception: 021 180 4550 | Fax: 021 180 4540


DIRECTORS: H L VAN ZYL (B.PROC); E S KRUGER (B.COMM LL.B MPRE); C A EHRENREICH (BA.LL.B LL.M)
ASSOCIATES: S JANSE VAN RENSBURG (B.COM LL.B); LI CHANTLER(B COMM LLB); D VAN ZYL (LL.B LL.M);
M VAN DEN HEEVER (LL.B); A BARNARD (B.COM LL.B DIP.FINPLANNING).
PRACTICE MANAGER: F BRAVENBOER (NDIP FIS).
CONSULTANT: J A L VAN ZYL (B.JURIS LL.B); C I’ANSON-SPARKS Solicitor in England and Wales (LL.B(HONS), DIP LEGAL PRACTICE)