View Online  |  Forward Newsletter
April 2020

Dear Client / Geagte Kliënt


Pandemic – A Legal Pandemonium?

Ons bevind ons in heeltemal onbekende omstandighede na die uitreiking van die regulasies deur die Minister van Koöperatiewe Regering en Tradisionele Aangeleenthede op 25 Maart 2020, kragtens haar bevoegdhede in terme van die Wet op Rampbestuur, Wet 25 van 2002 (Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002.) Hierdie maatreëls veroorsaak groot ontwrigting van meeste kommersiële aktiwiteite deur die in-kwarantyn-plasing van die grootste deel van die gemeenskap, die verbod op reis, byeenkomste en ander aktiwiteite, wat lei tot 'n algehele afname in algemene ekonomiese groei. 

An important question is, to what extent do the implementations of the regulations allow a party under a contract to delay performance, not perform, or resile from an agreement altogether. The majority of enquiries that we have received since the lock down have been from either employers and employees, as well as from tenants and landlords, all wishing to find out how the lock down regulations affect their reciprocal rights and obligations during this time when most businesses have been compelled to cease operations during the 21 day period.

Ons wil graag die volgende inligting deurgee aan kliënte en lesers met betrekking tot hoe die aangekondigde regulasies redelikerwys geïnterpreteer behoort te word vir sover dit huur en ander kommersiële aangeleenthede aangaan.

In a letter from a colleague from Durbanville addressed to SAPOA (to which a link is provided hereunder) he stresses that “it is important to note that the lockdown regulations are merely an amendment to the existing regulations, which means that, unless amended, the initial regulations still apply. Furthermore, once the lockdown has ended, the initial regulations will again apply, until terminated by government. In terms of the provisions of the Act the 25th March regulations may apply for up to 3 months, but may be extended in certain circumstances”. 

‘n Belangrike argument word voorgehou dat aangesien die 25 Maart regulasies strafregtelike sanksies bevat dit die gevolg het dat verhuurders en huurders wetlik verplig word om aan daardie vereistes te voldoen. Die gevolgtrekking word dan gemaak dat die huidige “lock down” waarskynlik neerkom op casus fortuitus,  wat ‘n verskyningsvorm van vis major is.

The Roman Law concept of vis major can be described as frustration of contract or fundamental change of circumstances which are recognised doctrines in South African as well as most international legal systems and is the concept of supervening impossibility of performance. Supervening impossibility of performance refers to the situation where performance was possible at the conclusion of the contract but subsequently becomes objectively and permanently impossible through no fault of the parties.

Die voormelde onmoontlikheid van prestasie moes buite die beheer van die partye wees en moes veroorsaak word deur vis major of casus fortuitus. Vis major word beskryf as 'n daad van God of 'n onkeerbare krag, wat gebeure soos natuurrampe insluit, terwyl casus fortuitus beskryf kan word as 'n toevallige, of onvermydelike, gebeurtenis wat geen redelike sorg of toesig kon voorsien, of voorkom, nie. Die algemene uitleg is dat daar geen praktiese onderskeid getref moet word tussen vis major en casus fortuitus nie en ook nie of ‘n situasie die gevolg was van natuurlike oorsake of menslike optrede nie, mits die situasie onvoorspelbaar was en nie met redelike versiendheid en sorg vermy kon word nie.

In an article “Coronavirus: A South African Perspective” on the website of Shepstone & Wylie, David Warmback contents that:

“In light of the legal position in South Africa, the coronavirus contains elements of both vis major and casus fortuitus. It is a pandemic that may be classified as a natural catastrophe which has arisen through natural causes. It can also be said that its effects could not have been reasonably foreseen nor avoidable at the time of contracting. Consequently, the principle of supervening impossibility of performance may very well justify non-performance of a party’s obligations under a contract where such non- performance has been caused by the virus, natural component (the virus itself) in cases where performance is of a personal nature, or practical component (for example, limitations on transportation, closure of industries, quarantines).

It must however be noted that the mere fact that the vis major or casus fortuitus has made it uneconomical or expensive for a party to carry out its obligations does not mean that performance has become impossible, and therefore would not constitute a defence to non-performance. The effect of supervening impossibility of performance is that as soon as the contract has become impossible in its entirety, the contract terminates, and the parties are freed of their obligations.

Notwithstanding supervening impossibility of performance, there is nothing in South African law that prevents parties from making special provisions in their contract for happenings that would otherwise discharge the contract and excuse non-performance. This is often exercised by the inclusion of the standard force majeure clause. The operation of the force majeure clause delineates specified instances which absolves parties from liability due to a failure to meet their obligations, where such failure is caused by force majeure. This is entirely contract-specific and is dependent on the definition attributed to force majeure in a particular contract. Consequently, where a force majeure clause is included, the coronavirus and its effects need to be assessed in light of the particular wording of the force majeure clause to ascertain whether it qualifies as a force majeure event.

In the absence of a force majeure clause in a contract, the common law principle of supervening impossibility of performance prevails, which favours the view that non-performance under a contract as a result of the coronavirus may very well be excused.”

Vir diegene wie die volledige brief aan SAPOA waarna verwys word hierbo wil sien volg gerus die volgende skakel: 

Groete en bly veilig / Regards and stay safe

Hennie, Eberhard & Cheryl-Anne  
Direkteure |  Directors

COVID-19: Small Businesses, Employment Laws, and Survival Support
We can only guess at how the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak will end, but let’s all take whatever concrete steps we can right now to lessen its impact on our personal lives, on our businesses, and on our country. 

One of those steps is for businesses to find ways of continuing to operate as normally as possible, given of course the exceptional times we are living through. And as employers, many businesses will find themselves facing some novel challenges, particularly during the National Lockdown.
Read More
Jou bure bou sonder planne – Kan jy ‘n slopingsbevel kry?  
“Sonde met die bure” – iets waarmee ons almal vertroud is. Een van die mees algemene bronne van konflik, is bouwerk. As jou bure se nuwe huis/uitbreiding/buitegebou jou see-uitsig belemmer, jou lig steel, inbreuk op jou privaatheid maak, of jou eiendom oorskry, gaan jy beslis ontsteld wees. En jy sal wil weet hoe jy te werk moet gaan om die betrokke bouwerk so gou as moontlik stop te sit.

 ‘n Onlangse uitspraak van die Hooggeregshof bevestig hoe sterk jou posisie is waar jy kan bewys dat die bouwerk sonder die nodige munisipale goedkeurings voortgegaan het. Ons bespreek die feite van die saak (‘n sage van 16 jaar oor ‘n oorskrydende motorhuis). Ons kyk ook na die regsaspekte waarop die Hof se beslissing om ‘n slopingsbevel toe te staan, gebaseer is.
Read More
Beware the “Common Law Marriage” Myth
Anyone in an informal life partnership arrangement should beware the extremely prevalent - and extremely dangerous - myth of the “common law marriage”. 

We discuss the risks of relying on this myth with reference to a recent High Court case in which a couple split after a 22 year relationship. The life partner holding the assets vigorously defended the other partner’s claim to a 50% share, and her struggle to prove the existence of a “universal partnership” shows how difficult it can be to exit such a relationship with even the smallest financial benefit. The claimant in this case was fortunate in eventually being awarded a 30% share (better than nothing, but not 50%!)

Fortunately our law offers you a quick and simple solution… 
Read More
COVID-19 - Entrepreneurs and Your Growth Opportunities  
The COVID-19 coronavirus crisis will, like all crises, eventually give way to economic and societal recovery. 

Even before that inevitable upturn actually sets in, entrepreneurs should remember that times of great risk and challenge are also times of great opportunity. So get your team together now and brainstorm what new needs and new niches you can fill. Witness for example the “remote destination” businesses like game lodges now offering safe and luxurious havens for those wanting to self-isolate and to practice social distancing far from the city hotspots. That’s a win-win for everyone – businesses, their employees, their clients, and their suppliers.

Click Read More to view full article in English and Afrikaans 
Read More
 Our Directors
021 180 4552 / 082 789 1706
021 180 4564 / 082 783 7242
Van Greunen
021 180 4550
     Full Bio →

       Full Bio →

       Full Bio →

Van Wyk
021 180 4551
021 180 4578



© 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)

Suite 520 Tyger Lake, Niagara Road,
Tyger Waterfront, Bellville, Cape Town | Reception: 021 180 4550 | Fax: 021 180 4540

C I’ANSON-SPARKS Solicitor in England and Wales (LL.B(HONS), DIP LEGAL PRACTICE)