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Festive Season Sellers: Start Getting Your Compliance Certificates Ready

Plan Your Estate to Protect Your Family - Two End-of-Year Questions to Ask Yourself

The New Law on Parental Leave – A Simple Summary for Employers and Employees

Did You Know that CV Liars Now Face Jail Time?

Legal Speak Made Easy


December 2023

Festive Season Sellers: Start Getting Your Compliance Certificates Ready


“If you don't like where you are, move. You are not a tree” (Jim Rohn)

It’s that time of year again – summer sunshine, happy holidaymakers in festive mode, and an upsurge in property sales.

Whether seller or buyer, be aware of the various compliance certificates that may be required for your transfer to go through smoothly. These certificates ensure that the property is up to standard in terms of safety, health and building regulations, and can also help prevent any unexpected costs or legal issues from arising later on.

In most cases the responsibility for obtaining these certificates lies with the owner of the property, and failure to do so can result in delays in the transfer process, or even legal action. Also, if remedial work is required, this could take time and delay the whole transfer process. For these reasons, it's a good idea to obtain the necessary clearance certificates as early as possible (just keep an eye on how long each is valid for). 

So, sellers - here’s a checklist for you of the certificates of compliance you might (or might not) need –

  • Electrical: One of the key certificates required for property transfer is the Electrical Compliance Certificate. This confirms that the electrical installations (distribution boards, wiring etc) in the property meet safety standards and other requirements, and that any necessary repairs or upgrades have been carried out. It does not cover actual appliances like stoves, geysers and the like. The certificate must be issued by a registered electrical contractor, and you cannot agree with the buyer to waive this requirement.

  • Electric Fence System: Additional to and separate from the electrical certificate discussed above, this applies if you have an electric fence system installed (or modified) after 1 October 2012.  It can be transferred to the buyer. Only a registered electric fence system installer can issue it. Again. It can’t be waived.

  • Gas: A Gas Compliance Certificate is only required if you have gas appliances installed and confirms that the installations meet safety standards and are in good working order. A registered professional must issue it, and again it cannot be waived. 

  • Beetle Infestation: Required by banks and perhaps insurers in some (mostly coastal) areas of the country, this certificate confirms that the accessible wood of permanent structures is free of wood destroying insects. You can agree with the buyer on whether or not a certificate is necessary, and if so, who must obtain and pay for it. Usually valid for 3 to 6 months.

  • Water Installation: Currently only required by the City of Cape Town and aimed at preventing illegal water connections and stormwater ingress, this certificate confirms that the water system installations comply with the City’s byelaws. It does not confirm that the whole plumbing system is in order even though it may be referred to as a “plumbing certificate”. Only a qualified and registered plumber can issue it. Again, you cannot agree with the buyer to waive this. 

Plan Your Estate to Protect Your Family - Two End-of-Year Questions to Ask Yourself


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” (Songwriters Pola & Wyle)

As the end of another year approaches, with its family celebrations and holidays, take the time to check that your estate plan really does ensure that your loved ones will be looked after when you are no longer here for them. 

Here are two questions to ask yourself right now –

  1. “Is it time to review my will?”

    The heart of any estate plan is of course your will (“Last Will and Testament”) and it is essential to review it regularly. Check for the following –

    1. Changes in your financial or personal circumstances. If you have changed your circumstances in any way – perhaps you have a new spouse or life partner, perhaps you have divorced or had another child, perhaps your assets and liabilities are different now – whatever it is, you may well want to change the relevant provisions in your will.

    2. Changes in your family’s circumstances. Similarly, changes in a family member’s personal or financial circumstances could trigger a need for change.

    3. Changes in tax or other laws that might affect your estate. As in everything else in life, constant change is a feature of our legal and tax landscape – your estate plan may need to adapt accordingly.

    To update your will, ask your lawyer whether a “codicil” to your will is enough, or whether it would be better to execute a brand-new will. 

  2. “Is there enough “ready cash” in my estate?”

    Something easily overlooked in the estate planning process is the need to provide your loved ones and your executor with “liquid” funds – readily-available cash or other accessible funds. 

    Without that, your family is at risk in two respects –

    1. They may struggle to make ends meet while your estate is being wound up. Winding up a deceased estate is a specialised process which can take a long time. Your family needs something to live on in the interim, and although your executor has the power to advance monies to heirs in certain circumstances, first prize will always be to leave your loved ones a source of income outside of that whole process. Remember that your bank accounts and the like will be frozen as soon as the banks learn of your death.

    2. Your family could even face homelessness. That’s not an exaggeration – it’s exactly the prospect confronting a widow after a recent High Court order authorised an executor to sell the deceased’s family home. The problem was that the executor needed to have sufficient funds to pay creditors, the administration costs of the estate, the advertising, the Master’s fees and the executor’s fees – in that case, just over R206,000.

      The only way he could raise enough cash was to sell the house in the estate, because the sole heir (the deceased’s widow) had declined to make the necessary cash contribution to the estate to avoid that. The Court ordered the Master of the High Court to set the manner and conditions for the sale accordingly – the widow will have to move.

      In many estates there will be assets other than the family home that the executor can sell to raise cash, but it will always be best to avoid that – it could be your business for example, or a valuable heirloom.

      So how do you prevent that unhappy scenario?

The answer is simple - find another way to leave your family access to ready cash outside of your estate. Commonly recommended strategies include separate bank accounts controlled by family members, family trusts, life policies and living annuities with family members nominated as beneficiaries, really anything accessible directly to your family members outside the estate. Professional advice specific to your circumstances is a no-brainer here.

The New Law on Parental Leave – A Simple Summary for Employers and Employees


“The crux of the case is about unequal treatment of persons. (Extract from judgment below)

The recent High Court judgment which declared unconstitutional differences between maternity, paternity, parental, adoption and surrogacy leave has received a lot of media attention, much of it focusing on the reasons for the decision - but what has actually changed on a practical level for employers and their employees?

In summary, the Court has given Parliament two years to remedy those sections of two Acts – the BCEA or Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the UIF Act - that discriminate unfairly between mothers and fathers and between different sets of parents on the basis of whether a child was born of the mother, conceived by surrogacy or adopted. 

Employers and employees – what you need to know

The matter now goes to the Constitutional Court for confirmation of the declaration of invalidity and of the Court’s interim order that “…all parents of whatever stripe, enjoy 4 consecutive months' parental leave, collectively. In other words, each pair of parents of a qualifying child shall share the 4 months leave as they elect.”

To break that down, all parents (regardless of gender or category) will, subject to confirmation by the Constitutional Court, be entitled to at least four consecutive months’ leave - what until now has been described in the BCEA as “maternity leave”. 

To break that down simply -

  • Single parents of any gender will be entitled to the full four months’ leave. 

  • A pair of parents will be entitled to the same leave, but they must share it between them They can choose how to take the leave – either one of them can take the whole period, or they can take turns taking leave. Both parents’ employers must, before the child’s birth, be notified in writing of the parents’ decision and of the periods to be taken by each parent.

  • Adoptive parents will be entitled to the same leave when adopting children under two years of age.

  • Surrogacy – the same leave will be available to a commissioning parent or parents (a “commissioning parent” is a person who enters into a surrogate motherhood agreement with a surrogate mother).

If it’s unpaid leave, a UIF claim may help…

The BCEA provides job security by obliging employers to grant parental leave rather than lay off new parents, but it does not force employers to make it paid leave. It will be unpaid unless your particular contract of employment specifies that it will be paid.

That’s where the UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) comes in, with its provision of “maternity benefit” claims. These will be available to all qualifying parents who are contributors to UIF.

Employers - take advice on how to update your leave policies to comply with these anticipated new provisions. 

Did You Know that CV Liars Now Face Jail Time?


“Fraud is a cancer that is crippling our country” (Supreme Court of Appeal in 2019) 

An all-too-common scenario in these times of high unemployment is job applicants who, desperate to be hired, lie about their qualifications on their CVs. Recent high-profile stories of fake doctors and the like are no doubt only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this growing problem.

And of course, the consequences for any business hiring such a candidate can be extremely serious. You face loss of reputation, loss of clients, dangerous workplaces where safety issues are at stake, and potential liability for any damage caused by the under-qualified employee.

The new offences

But there is help at hand! All employers, employees and jobseekers need to know that anyone lying about their qualifications now faces heavy fines and up to 5 years’ imprisonment.

That’s in terms of the newly operational National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act, which makes it a criminal offence to “falsely or fraudulently” claim to be holding a qualification or part-qualification from any educational or skills development provider, including a foreign institution. Fraudulent claims needn’t necessarily be in the form of a CV – any deliberate “falsification and dissemination or publication” of false qualifications is now criminalized, so posting fake matric certificates or degrees on social media for example would now be a criminal offence.

What you should do as an employer

  • If a job seeker lies

    Of course, prevention is always better than cure, do your due diligence upfront – verify all qualifications claimed, speak personally to references, query inconsistencies or gaps in CVs and so on.

    You naturally won’t hire an applicant who turns out to be a liar but think of going one step further – lay criminal charges! It may seem overkill but the applicant has put your business at risk just by claiming the false qualification, and the best protection you can have from future attempts to defraud you in this way is to build a reputation for taking firm action against cheats.

  • If an existing employee lies

    If on the other hand you find out that an existing employee has been guilty of CV fraud, either to get the job initially or to qualify for a benefit such as a promotion, you have a range of options available to you –

    • Lay charges: Send out a clear message: “Don’t mess with us!” by pursuing criminal charges, either as above if it’s qualification fraud or under our general criminal laws for other types of fraud. A recent example is provided by the case of a fake radiographer who misrepresented her qualification to get employment and has been sentenced to 2,000 hours’ periodical imprisonment.

    • Disciplinary action: You should also consider disciplinary action against the employee, with dismissal a distinct possibility in appropriate cases. Note that specific legal advice is essential here to get it right.

    • Claim damages: You may well also have a claim against employees for any losses flowing from their fraud. For example, the High Court recently ordered an employee who had claimed to hold what turned out to be a fake degree to repay everything he had earned back to his employer – over R2.2m. Moreover, the Court authorised the employer to execute against the employee’s provident fund, and that’s really going to hurt the fraudster’s retirement plans. Note that pension and provident funds are normally protected from creditors but not from claims for “any damage caused to the employer by reason of any theft, dishonesty, fraud or misconduct”. As a final mark of its displeasure, the Court ordered the employee to pay costs on the punitive attorney and client scale.

Legal Speak Made Easy


“Subpoena duces tecum”

This is a court order for the person named in it to produce a document or other form of physical evidence at a trial or hearing – literally it means “under threat of penalty, bring [specified] with you”.

If you should ever be presented with such a subpoena and have any doubt over whether you can comply, should comply, or have enough time to comply, ask your lawyer for advice as a matter of urgency – this is a serious document!

Thank you for your support in 2023.  

Have a wonderful festive season, and a happy and prosperous 2024.

Enjoy the break!

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The information provided herein 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 professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.