25 May

International Arbitration Bill: What It Means For Arbitration In SA

The International Arbitration Bill has been passed on to parliament, and will most likely be approved. This means that we may be subject to new International Arbitration Law within the next few years. What does this mean for South Africa, and how does it in any way affect  mediation in the legal sense?

The South African courts have gone a long way in promoting mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution between parties, especially regarding commercial interests. Arbitration allows parties to formally settle disputes in private (where the arbitration does not include the state), saving businesses a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on legal fees. Additionally, arbitration reduces the pressure that courts and legal professionals experience in alleviating the vast number of commercial dispute resolution cases.

Old Arbitral Procedures

International arbitral procedures, alternatively, has always been an issue within the profession. This is because cases of international arbitration fell within the limits of the outdated Arbitration Act, No 42 of 1965. With the new International Arbitration Act in place, international arbitral procedures will be distinguished from domestic arbitration, and will be governed by as per UNCITRAL Model Law set out in the New York Convention.

New Arbitral Procedures

Although the force of law will still be maintained by executive powers within South Africa, arbitral procedures between international parties will be governed by the laws outlined in the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules, essentially freeing up the local judiciary and offering commercial parties to settle disputes on their own terms. With the Act in place, foreign arbitral awards will not require government authorization with regards to their enforcement. Additionally, arbitral awards will need to be made an order of the court where parties are acting in good faith. They are not required to make an order of the court if the subject matter is not arbitrable in South Africa.

The new Act, some may say, has been a long time coming, and will certainly make South Africa an inviting location for international dispute resolution.

If you require the services of a dispute resolution attorney or a legal professional with experience in mediation and arbitral procedures, then make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys as soon as possible.

For more information regarding family law dispute resolution take a look at our dispute resolution page here.

11 May

Non-Compliance By South African Businesses

Has your business kept abreast of all the regulatory legal updates that form the commercial law framework in South Africa? If not, you (as the business director) as well as your business, could land in hot water. Repercussions can range in anything from significant fines to mandatory jail sentences and company liquidation.

Compliance with the current regulations requires an understanding of significant commercial Acts such as the Public Finance Management Act, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act among many others. There are a number of similar by-laws that apply to individual municipalities or issues regarding health and safety. Forgetting what each Act and by-law entails could have disastrous consequences, and it is for this reason why businesses develop a compliance management system.

The news has been inundated in recent years with many large companies falling short of regulations, and have been charged by the South African government with fines so large that they are probable cause for front page headlines in the country’s newspapers. Most recently, millions of rands had to be paid to the South African Reserve Bank by South Africa’s largest banks for not upholding strict FICA requirements. But how do such large businesses succumb to non-compliance?

Red Tape: A businessman’s worst enemy!

The answer lies in the structure of the business environment. Businesses have not developed practical compliance management systems to deal with regulations that they are faced with on a daily basis. Businesses are rather reactive concerning regulations, and therefore have to part with millions of rands in order to remain afloat. The problem may also be a sign that the business environment is overloaded with regulations, the red tape that so many business directors complain about.

This reoccurring issue adequately highlights the necessity for commercial law attorneys in South Africa. Commercial law attorneys are required to assist businesses in matters regarding regulations and by-laws that normal businesses have no way of highlighting or even distinguishing. Therefore, it becomes important for businesses to associate themselves with legal professionals so that they are protected when the time comes.

If you require a commercial law attorney who specialises in the fields of debt collection, insolvency and sectional titles, make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys as soon as possible! 


28 Apr

Municipal Job Cards Used In Debt Collection

The contractor who is responsible for the installation, repairing, maintenance and/or removal of either an electricity meter or a water meter on every property in South Africa is required to fill in an official job card. This municipal job card holds all the information regarding the installation/repair/removal of the meter and is handed over to the municipality. This municipal job card becomes an important part of the debt collection process when the municipality follows up on unpaid invoices.

If customers want to dispute a particular consumption invoice, the municipal job card becomes an important document for both the municipality and the consumer. The municipality will use the job card within the municipal billing department to rectify a billing mistake. Otherwise, the customer can use the job card to prove the fact that they were incorrectly billed and can be used in court if the issue is in litigation. However, municipalities have been withholding municipal job cards from consumers when asked for them. This is illegal for a number of reasons.

  • The most important reason as to why this is illegal is because it means that a third party (the municipality in this case) is withholding important information that is relevant to the account holder and is needed by them in order to legally protect themselves.
  • This goes directly against the Consumer Protection Act because the job card holds information that is needed by the consumer to dispute a billing mistake.
  • The municipality cannot issue a summons, issue credit control measures, black-list or cut services if there is a billing dispute in progress. The dispute needs to be concluded, and this cannot happen if the municipality is withholding job cards.
  • Withholding municipal job cards, and starting the debt collection process against the consumer, shows a lack of accountability and transparency on the part of the municipal government.

Consumers must ensure that they collect all the documents and information concerning their dispute with the municipality so that the information may be used in court after the outset of the municipality’s debt collection process.

If you require one of the most experienced debt collection attorneys in South Africa make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today!

13 Apr

Business Acquisition And Legal Checks

Big businesses are often involved in the acquisition of smaller companies. They undergo the process so often that all the legal requirements and checks are processed seamlessly. The lessons that they learn through business acquisition can give smaller businesses the advice necessary to undergo an acquisition, and fulfill any legal requirements. Without said advice, businesses can suffer from pitfalls and hidden costs.

The first critical piece of advice for anyone looking to purchase a business is to ensure that tax structuring is in place. The tax structure and the consequences of tax will make an impact on the way the acquisition unfolds. This will also uncover any hidden costs associated with tax.

By evaluating the due diligence of the company that an investor/businessman is willing to acquire will ensure that they know the exact worth of the business. This will indicate the assets that the company currently owns, and how much of an investment injection is necessary not only to acquire the business but also to ensure its optimum operation after purchase.

Those looking to buy a business must also ensure that they understand the regulatory body that controls the market. The bylaws and regulations in place must be thoroughly adhered to by the new business owners. Additionally, the acquisition of a large company will also require the approval of the Competition Commission because an acquisition may have a detrimental impact on the market and therefore for the consumer. The regulations set by the Competition Authority only requires compliance during the acquisition of extremely large companies, though.

A transaction contract is absolutely necessary for both parties in the acquisition. The contract will stipulate exactly when the transactions should take place, as well as their value. Without a contract, there can be no proceedings, but more importantly, a well-written contract will protect both parties. Make sure that a lawyer is available to facilitate the drafting of the contract, and is present during all meetings to ensure that the process complies with the legal and regulatory frameworks in place.

For more legal news, tips and advice, keep in touch with Ivan Zartz Attorneys blog page by clicking the link.

If you require a legal expert for advice during your business acquisition, or to facilitate any other commercial law or family law process, then contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today!


06 Apr

South Africa’s High Economic Crime Rate

The Global Economic Crime Survey, a study provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has provided information regarding the current trends and hotspots of economic crime. Unfortunately, South Africa suffers one of the highest rates of economic crime in the world.

Currently, the rate of economic crime in the country doubles that of the international average, even when compared to other states in Africa. This, PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests is a ‘pandemic’, and at least a third of all upper-management in a number of corporate businesses have experienced economic crime in one form or another.

While, internationally, asset misappropriation is the most common form of economic crime, other forms of crime such as cybercrime as well as bribery are also common. Many would think that corruption is the most common economic crime in South Africa, but this is not the case. HR crime is at its worst in South Africa. More than a quarter of employees’ matric certificates cannot be confirmed, while 1 in 15 employees have a falsified tertiary degree or certification. HR crimes are usually noticed when hiring new staff, but the studies suggest that a shocking number of employees in South Africa do not have the correct qualifications.

Those in the field of risk management and auditing suggest that businesses should be proactive with regards to the crimes that plague South African companies. There are many services available on the market that can help businesses prevent fraud, and even HR crimes like that of forged qualifications.

Those of our clients that require our services with regards to commercial law must ensure that they have employed measures that help them prevent economic crimes within their businesses. It is important that they understand the scope and damage that economic crime inflicts on the South African economy, and that they protect themselves accordingly.

If you require the services of a professional commercial law attorney, then make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys as soon as possible.

Take a look at our commercial law page to see the commercial law services that we offer.