INFORMAL “DECISIONS” BY HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS

Many homeowners’ associations have strict requirements concerning the aesthetic appearance of buildings on the estate. These include fences and other smaller additions that are not always considered by the homeowner to be building projects in terms of the rules, the Memorandum of Association (MOA) or the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI). The owners then fail to submit plans and/or drawings for formal approval by the trustees or directors of the association.

Some homeowners knowingly attempt to avoid the prescribed formal process and merely invite a trustee or director for an informal discussion, explaining with waving arms the envisaged building project, be it a fence or a pergola. The nod of approval by the trustee is then held by the homeowner to be “approval” of the planned project.

The courts have ruled as follows with regard to the “consent” granted by a trustee at an informal meeting with the homeowner, where the MOA or MOI of the homeowners’ association clearly dictates a procedure for approval of any building or improvement:

  1. In order for a trustee or director to sign off a plan in his official capacity, a trustee must properly inform himself of the issues which affect the complex as a whole and not simply have regard to his or her inter-personal relationship with the homeowner. In order to be properly informed, a trustee must ordinarily make a decision in committee with the benefit of debate. His decision must consciously have regard to the MOA or the MOI, whichever case it may be, and the long-term interests of the members. Failure by the trustee to do so will imply that the trustee has not applied his mind to all the relevant issues. It may be possible to impute acceptance by a person both in his individual and official capacity.
  1. The nature of the relationship established between homeowners under a MOA or MOI to which each subscribes, constitutes an agreement in terms of which each homeowner submits contractually to the decisions of a body of elected trustees to whom they have conferred the right and power to make binding decisions on matters that affect their relationship inter se, or which generally affect the estate.
  1. It is further important to take note of whether written consent has been granted by the trustee, as such an action by the trustee would be an additional consideration to establish whether a formal decision will be deemed to have been made.

See specifically Hoosen & Others NNO v Deedat 1999 (4) SA 425 (SCA) and Khyber Rock Estate East Home Owners Association v 09 of Erf 823 Woodmead Ext 13 CC, a judgement by his honourable acting justice Spilg in the Witwatersrand Local Division in case number 7689/2006.

An informal discussion regarding the building plans of the homeowner can thus not be deemed as a formal decision made by the trustees of the homeowners’ association, if the homeowner failed to follow the prescribed procedure.

In the event that a homeowner indeed deems the informal consent as a “decision” made by the trustees of the homeowners’ association, the courts will not interfere with the decision made by a homeowners’ body save under recognised grounds of judicial review as applied to a voluntary association whose members have bound themselves to its rules, which include the conferring of decision-making functions on an elected body of trustees. (Turner v Jockey Club of South Africa 1974 (3) SA, SA Medical & Dental Council v McLoughlin 1948 (2) SA 355 (AD) and Marlin v Durban Turf Club & Others 1942 AD 112).

Trustees and directors should therefore take care when having informal discussions with homeowners and insist on the due process, in terms of the rules, the MOA or the MOI, to be followed to the letter. Rather avoid commenting or voicing an opinion except at the appropriate forum – the formal meeting of the trustees or directors where the item is noted on the agenda in compliance with the association’s prescribed formal requirements.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other 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 legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

REGISTERING DEATHS AND DEATH CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Many South African citizens do not know the correct procedures to follow in order to register a death, or how to obtain a death certificate and by whom, until it is too late. Coming to terms with a death is difficult enough without having to enquire about the legal processes that are necessary in the circumstances in order to proceed with funeral arrangements and other family affairs. The Births and Deaths Registration Act 51 of 1992 outlines the simple requirements and procedures to be followed upon the death of a South African citizen.

The Births and Deaths Registration Act no. 51 of 1992 requires that a person’s death must be reported to any one of the following people authorised by The Department of Home Affairs. Specific officers at the Department of Home Affairs, South African Police Service members, South African Missions, Embassy’s or Consulates where the death occurred abroad or funeral undertakers that have been appointed and are recognised by law.

A Notification of Death or Still Birth Form (Form BI-1663) must be completed when reporting a death. This form, along with all other forms that may be necessary are available from all Home Affairs offices. The following people have to complete different sections of this form in order for it to be submitted: the person reporting the death, the medical practitioner or traditional healer involved in the declaration of the death, and a Home Affairs official or a member of the Police service if a Home Affairs official is not available.

A Death Report (Form BI-1680) will be issued after a death has been registered with one of the relevant department officials. Only someone whom the Department of Home Affairs has authorised to do so can issue this report and this includes traditional leaders, members of the SA Police Services and authorised undertakers.

These designated people may also issue burial orders. No burial may take place unless authorised by way of a burial order (Form BI-14).

Deaths of South African citizens and South African permanent residence permit holders that occur outside South Africa must be reported to the nearest South African embassy or mission abroad. The country in which the death occurs must issue a death certificate and a certified copy of the death certificate must be submitted to the South African embassy or mission when reporting a death. If the deceased is to be buried in South Africa, the embassy or mission will assist with the paperwork and arrangements with regards to transportation of the body to South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs will issue a Death Certificate on receipt of the notification of death form BI-1663 and the Death Report form BI-1680. Applications for a Death Certificate must be lodged at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or at any South African embassy, mission or consulate if the death occurs abroad. An abridged death certificate will be issued free of charge on the same day of registration of death. An unabridged death certificate can be obtained by completing Form

BI-132 and paying the required fee.

If a person has been recorded, mistakenly or fraudulently, as dead in the National Population Register, (i.e. they are still alive); this must be reported as soon as possible to the nearest Department of Home Affairs office for urgent investigation and corrective action.

Chapter 3 (Section 14 to 22) of the Births and Death’s Registration Act regulates all matters pertaining to the Registrations of Deaths in South Africa and regulations on how to obtain a Death Certificate. The Act provides for the different procedures to be followed when a death is due to natural causes, stillbirth or other methods. This process is simple to follow and the appointed officials at Home Affairs Departments are fully equipped to process registrations and to answer any questions you may have.

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This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other 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 legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

WHAT’S THE BUZZ ABOUT BUSINESS RESCUE?

If a company/close corporation is in financial trouble and all possible avenues to save the business have been exhausted, there is one last option available to save the business: it can lodge an application for business rescue at the CIPC. In order to qualify for business rescue proceedings, the business must satisfy the requirements as set out in the next paragraph.

A company/close corporation will only be considered as a business rescue candidate if all three the following requirements are met:

  • The decision to start business rescue proceedings must be taken before any liquidation proceedings have been instituted against the business.
  • The business is financially distressed.

A business is seen as financially distressed if:

  • It seems reasonably unlikely that the business can pay its debts in the normal course of business for the next six months, or
  • It seems reasonably likely that the business will be insolvent in the next six months.
  • There seems to be a reasonable chance of rescuing the business.

What is the aim of a business rescue plan?

The aim of placing a company/close corporation under business rescue is to give the business some breathing space to implement the business rescue plan and give the business a fair chance to become a going concern again.

Alternatively, if the business is liquidated despite the business rescue proceedings, the aim is to hopefully have a higher return available for the creditors and shareholders than would have been the case if the business was liquidated before undertaking any business rescue proceedings.

To give a business the maximum chance of recovering its finances and to continue operating as a solvent enterprise, the business rescue plan normally restructures a business’ assets, liabilities and equity, as well as its way of doing business.

Who can be appointed as a business rescue practitioner?

There is a list of licensed business rescue practitioners available on the CIPC’s website.

What does a business rescue practitioner do?

The appointed business rescue practitioner will investigate the business’ situation and propose a business rescue plan. After the business rescue plan has been approved by the creditors and shareholders, the business rescue practitioner will implement the plan. The reason why the creditors and shareholders must approve the business rescue plan is that they will withhold their rights against the business to claim payment as long as the business is operating under the business rescue plan.

After implementing the business rescue plan, the business rescue practitioner will temporarily oversee and manage the business together with the current management.

The business rescue practitioner also takes over dealing with the creditors and shareholders. In addition, the business rescue practitioner will communicate with registered trade unions which represent employees of the business. If there are employees who are not members of any registered trade union, the business rescue practitioner will deal with these employees or their representatives as well.

The first step to start with a business rescue is for a business to file a notice with the CIPC that it wants to start with business rescue proceedings. The rest of the business rescue process and the business rescue documents which are required to be submitted to the CIPC, is set out on the CIPC’s website.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon 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. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

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VERSKILLE TUSSEN DIE WET OP GESINSGEWELD EN DIE WET OP BESKERMING TEEN TEISTERING

Daar is mense wat op ‘n daaglikse basis ly onder emosionele en fisiese mishandeling, maar nie heeltemal seker is wat hulle kan doen om dit te voorkom nie. Daar is twee opsies beskikbaar. Daar kan óf aansoek gedoen word vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel, óf vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel. Baie mense weet egter nie wat die verskil tussen die twee is en watter bevel van toepassing op hulle situasie sou wees nie.

‘n Beskermingsbevel word beskryf as ‘n vorm van ‘n hofbevel wat vereis dat ‘n party sekere dade moet doen, of ophou om sekere dade te doen. Hierdie bevele vloei uit die hof se krag om billike remedies toe te staan in die situasies. Die volgende moet teenwoordig wees wanneer jy aansoek doen vir ‘n beskermingsbevel:

  • Daar moet ʼn patroon van geweld wees.
  • Dit moet ‘n tipe huishoudelike geweld wees soos:
  • Fisiese geweld
  • Seksuele geweld
  • Finansiële geweld
  • Emosionele/verbale geweld
  • Die geweld moet teen die persoon wat die aansoek bring, gerig wees.

‘n Beskermingsbevel word ingesluit in die Wet op Gesinsgeweld. Dit beteken dat die misbruik tussen twee persone moet wees wat in dieselfde huis woon, soos broer en suster, of ma en pa, ens. Sodra die aansoek vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel toegestaan is, word ‘n keerdatum uitgereik. Op die keerdatum kan die Applikant besluit om aansoek te doen dat die bevel verwyder word of dat die Hof dit ‘n finale bevel maak. Indien die bevel finaal gemaak word, is dit permanent bindend. Indien die Respondent die Beskermingsbevel oortree, kan hy/sy tot 5 jaar gevangenisstraf ontvang. As die Applikant onder valse voorwendsels vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel aansoek doen, kan die Applikant tot 2 jaar gevangenisstraf ontvang.

Die aansoek vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel is ‘n ex-parte aansoek, wat beteken dat die aansoek sonder die Respondent se teenwoordigheid in die Hof aangehoor kan word. Dit kan probleme veroorsaak in die geval waar die Respondent onskuldig is en nie die geleentheid kry om homself/haarself te verdedig nie.

As jy die slagoffer van beledigende of dreigende gedrag is deur iemand waarmee jy nie ‘n huishoudelike verhouding het nie, kan dit teistering wees. As jy geteister word, kan jy aansoek doen vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel. Die volgende is belangrike feite rakende Teisteringsbevele:

  • Geen patroon is nodig nie, en ‘n eerste oortreding kan voldoende wees vir die toestaan van ‘n Teisteringsbevel.
  • Geen verhouding word vereis nie, en dit kan teen iemand wees wat jy nie ken nie.
  • Geen geweld hoef teenwoordig te wees nie.
  • Teistering sluit in: agtervolg, boodskappe, ongewenste pakkette, briewe, sielkundige skade, liggaamlike leed, finansiële skade, ens.

As jy besluit om aansoek te doen vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel sonder dat jy weet teen wie dit is, kan die Hof ‘n polisiebeampte vra om die saak te ondersoek. Die aansoek vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel vind plaas in ‘n ope hof, wat beteken dat dit nie privaat is nie – dit kan soms veroorsaak dat slagoffers nie aansoek doen om hierdie bevel nie. Sodra ‘n Teisteringsbevel toegestaan is, is dit bindend vir 5 jaar. Indien die Applikant die bevel wil terugtrek, moet die Hof tevrede wees dat die omstandighede verander het. Verbreking van ‘n Teisteringsbevel kan tot 5 jaar gevangenisstraf lei, en dit is ook dieselfde straf wat opgelê kan word vir Applikante wat die aansoek onder valse voorwendsels bring.

Dit is belangrik om te weet dat daar oplossings beskikbaar is vir slagoffers van afbrekende verhoudings. Of dit nou emosionele, fisiese of finansiële mishandeling is deur iemand wat jy ken of agtervolging en teistering deur ‘n onbekende persoon, dit het tyd geword om standpunt in te neem teen mishandeling.

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. (E&OE)