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November 2021 NEWSLETTER
Community Scheme Disputes and the Ombud’s Powers to Resolve Them

“Community scheme” living has many advantages, but disputes come with the territory and that’s where the conciliation and alternative dispute resolution services offered by the CSOS (Community Schemes Ombud Service) come into the picture.

We’ll start off discussing what disputes you can refer to the Ombud and talk about why a recent High Court decision means that, barring exceptional circumstances, you cannot go direct to a court. A group of loft owners in an inner-city mixed-use building found that out the hard way, with the Court calling their application an “abuse of process” and awarding costs against them on a penalty scale. 

We end off with a look at an exception to that rule in the form of another court case, this time one in which the Ombud was held to have no power to hear a claim for damages. 

Take advice before deciding whether to go to the Ombud or to the High Court. 

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Fired for a Racist Facebook Post
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Our courts have zero tolerance for racism in any form, and anyone using Facebook (or any other social media channel/online forum) to indulge in a spot of race-based hate speech is headed for big trouble with the law.

As regards workplace racists, a recent Labour Court decision confirms that the spectre of summary dismissal will always hang over their heads whether they spew their vitriol in the workplace or outside it.

A “general worker” had, outside the workplace and outside working hours, posted a racist comment on a public Facebook group. The Court confirmed that his dismissal was both substantively and procedurally fair. Every employer and every employee should take note of the Court’s reasons for reaching that decision.
   
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Exemption Clauses in Contracts – Fine Print Can Void Them
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Exemption clauses are standard in most contracts, and if you are a supplier of goods or services, they are particularly important to limit your risk of being sued. But are they enforceable?

We address that question with reference to a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment confirming a substantial damages award against an international shipping company. The shipper had failed to deliver to its customer a reconditioned aircraft engine, and its attempt to rely on a series of exemption clauses in its “standard trading conditions” found no favour with the Court.

We’ll end off with some practical advice for both suppliers and customers.

   
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Unmarried Parents: A New ‘Notice of Birth’ Ruling for Fathers, with 3 Surname Choices
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As parents of a newborn, you have a legal duty to register your child by way of a “notice of birth” to Home Affairs, making at that stage the important choice of the child’s surname to be recorded in the population register. Whether you are married or not makes no difference to your duty to register the birth, but until now the Births and Deaths Registration Act has prevented an unmarried father from giving the notice under his own surname except with the mother’s consent.

A recent Constitutional Court decision has changed that, putting unmarried parents into exactly the same position as their married counterparts. Read on for more, and for a list of the three surname choices now available to both married and unmarried parents…
   
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Your Website of the Month: New – How to Renew Your Car Licence Disc Online
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Here’s some really good news for all of us motorists dreading the annual challenge of queuing to renew our car licences.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation has launched an online payment gateway allowing us to register, renew, and pay for our licence discs on the NaTIS online platform. Read “New online car licence disc renewal portal launched” on MyBroadband for details and instructions on how to use this new facility. Read to the end of the article for news of a planned SA Post Office smartphone app, and FNB’s existing online renewal and delivery service.

Note: This does not relate to driver’s licence cards, for which an online renewal system is planned but not yet finalised.

   







Disclaimer

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.


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