Testeervryheid in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg in die lig van 'n handves van regte

Du Toit, Francois (2000-12)

Thesis (LLD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Freedom of testation is one of the underlying principles of the South African law of testate succession. South African testators may therefore dispose of their assets by way of will in any manner they deem fit. This freedom is however not absolute and is indeed restricted in accordance with certain social and economic considerations - some of the restrictions on free testamentary disposition originated at common law while others are couched in the form of statute. The boni mores or legal convictions of the community is one of the socially founded mechanisms which operate to limit freedom of testation in South African law. The South African legislature as well as the South African courts have however been somewhat remiss in attending to (and rejuvinating) the legal position regarding the restriction of freedom of testation in terms of the boni mores. The need for legal development in this area is all the more acute in view of South Africa's new constitutional dispensation - the interpretation and application of South Africa's final Constitution has rendered the influence of constitutional rights and principles on private law (and therefore also on freedom of testation) a pertinent legal issue. In view of the above-mentioned considerations, this work entails a general study of freedom of testation with specific reference to the application of a constitutionally founded boni morescriterion on the restriction of free testamentary disposition. This study proceeds with due cognisance of relevant juridical, social and economic considerations which provide a basis for both freedom of testation and its limitation. In this regard a historical perspective is obtained at the outset through an analysis of the approach to freedom of testation in Roman and Roman-Dutch law. The position with regard to South African law is thereafter investigated. The "traditional" approach to freedom of testation (and its restriction) is examined first, whereafter the possible impact of relevant provisions of the South African Bill of Rights on free testamentary disposition is considered from a theoretical perspective. A comparative study then follows. In this regard the approach to freedom of testation in both common law and continental or civil law legal systems is investigated. English and Australian law are considered as examples of the former while Dutch, Belgian and German law are considered as examples of the latter. The investigation into all the legal systems mentioned above has a dual focus. On the one hand the support which is rendered to freedom of testation in each legal system is considered. This support is readily founded on the acknowledgement in each system of private ownership and hence private succession, the latter which in turn acknowledges testamentary freedom. Other elements of the law of testate succession which render support to freedom of testation in each system are also examined. The restriction of free testamentary disposition in each legal system is investigated on the other hand. This investigation is principally focused on the impact of the boni mores, legal convictions of the community, public interest, public policy (the last-mentioned consideration is of particular importance in common law legal systems) and the good morals (particularly relevant in civil law legal systems) on the restriction of freedom of testation. Proposals for a future approach to the restriction of freedom of testation in South African law in accordance with a constitutionally founded boni mores-criterion are advanced in the closing chapter. The principal proposal in this regard is couched in the form of a new statutory provision which would best address the legal problem under discussion. This proposal is then illustrated with reference to practical examples.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Testeervryheid vorm een van die grondslae van die Suid-Afrikaanse testate erfreg. Suid- Afrikaanse testateurs kan dientengevolge na goeddunke by wyse van testament oor hul bates beskik. Hierdie vryheid is egter nie absoluut nie en word ooreenkomstig bepaalde sosiale en ekonomiese oorwegings beperk - sommige beperkings is gemeenregtelik van aard terwyl andere in wetgewing beslag kry. Die boni mores of regsgevoel van die gemeenskap is een van die sosiaal-gefundeerde meganismes aan die hand waarvan testeervryheid in die Suid- Afrikaanse reg beperk word. Sowel die Suid-Afrikaanse wetgewer as die Suid-Afrikaanse howe het egter in onlangse tye in gebreke gebly om die regsposisie ten opsigte van die beperking van testeervryheid ingevolge die boni mores te vernuwe. Regsontwikkeling op hierdie gebied is des te meer noodsaaklik in die lig van Suid-Afrika se nuwe grondwetlike bedeling - die invloed van grondwetlike regte en beginsels op die privaatreg (en derhalwe ook op testeervryheid) word geredelik deur die interpretasie en toepassing van Suid-Afrika se finale Grondwet aan die orde gestel. In die lig van bogenoemde oorwegings word 'n studie van testeervryheid in die algemeen en die aanwending van 'n grondwetlik-gefundeerde boni mores-maatstaf ter beperking van testeervryheid in die besonder in hierdie werk onderneem. Die studie geskied deurgaans aan die hand van tersaaklike juridiese, sosiale en ekonomiese oorwegings wat sowel testeervryheid as die beperking van dié vryheid fundeer. In hierdie verband word 'n historiese perspektief ter aanvang verkry deurdat die benadering tot testeervryheid in die Romeinse en Romeins- Hollandse reg ontleed word. Die posisie in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg word daarna op tweeledige wyse ondersoek. Die "tradisionele" benadering tot testeervryheid (en die beperking daarvan) word enersyds onder die loep geneem waarna 'n teoretiese perspektief op die moontlike invloed van tersaaklike bepalings van die Suid-Afrikaanse Handves van Regte op testeervryheid andersyds verkry word. 'n Regsvergelykende studie word daarna onderneem. In hierdie verband word die benadering tot testeervryheid in sowel "common law"- as kontinentale of "civil law "-regstelsels beskou. Die Engelse en Australiese reg word as voorbeelde van eersgenoemde ontleed terwyl die Nederlandse, Belgiese en Duitse reg as voorbeelde van laasgenoemde beskou word. Die fokus van die ondersoek na al die regstelsels hierbo vermeld, val enersyds op die onderskraging wat in elke regstelsel aan testeervryheid verleen word. Sodanige onderskraging spruit geredelik uit die erkenning in die onderskeie regstelsels van private eiendomsreg en derhalwe private erfopvolging, laasgenoemde wat weer op die erkenning van testeervryheid dui. Ook ander elemente van die testate erfreg wat in elke van die genoemde regstelsels ter onderskraging van testeervryheid funksioneer, word beskou. Die beperking van testeervryheid in elk van die regstelsels word andersyds ondersoek. Die fokus val in hierdie verband veralop die invloed van die boni mores, regsgevoel van die gemeenskap, openbare belang, openbare beleid (laasgenoemde veral relevant in "common law"-regstelsels) en die goeie sedes (veral relevant in kontinentale regstelsels) op die beperking van testeervryheid. In die slothoofstuk word voorstelle omtrent 'n toekomstige benadering tot die beperking van testeervryheid in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg aan die hand van 'n grondwetlik-gefundeerde boni mores-maatstaf gemaak. Die vernaamste voorstel in hierdie verband vind beslag in 'n nuwe statutêre bepaling wat die onderhawige regsprobleem ten beste sal aanspreek. Hierdie voorstel word ten slotte aan die hand van praktiese voorbeelde toegelig.

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