Statutory formalities in South African law

Myburgh, Franziska Elizabeth (2013-03)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation examines the approach to statutory formalities in South African law. It focuses primarily on formal requirements which result in nullity in the event of non-compliance, and in particular, on those prescribed for alienations of land (section 2(1) of the Alienation of Land Act 68 of 1981) and suretyships (section 6 of the General Law Amendment Act 50 of 1956). To provide context, the study commences with a general historical overview of the development of formal requirements. It also considers the advantages and disadvantages of formalities. The conclusion is reached that an awareness of both is required if a court is to succeed in dealing with the challenges posed by statutory formalities. The dissertation then considers more specific aspects of the topic of formal requirements, including the difference between material and non-material terms. It also reveals that the current interpretation of statutory formalities is quite flexible and tends towards a conclusion of validity if reasonably possible. However, cases involving unnamed or undisclosed principals present particular challenges in this context, and the possibility of greater consistency, without the loss of theoretical soundness, is investigated. A discussion of what should be in writing, and with what exactitude, necessarily involves a consideration of the extent to which extrinsic evidence is admissible. The interaction between formal requirements and the parol evidence rule is therefore investigated. Special attention is paid to incorporation by reference. After an examination of the common-law approach to this topic, the conclusion is reached that room exists for developing this area of South African law, especially where a sufficient reference to another document is concerned. Rectification also enjoys detailed examination, due to the unique approach adopted in South African law. Where formalities are constitutive, a South African court first satisfies itself that a recordal complies with these requirements ex facie the document, before it will consider whether rectification may be appropriate. An analysis of both civilian and common-law judgments suggests that the South African approach is based on a misconception of the purpose of rectification. This leads to the further conclusion that the requirement of ex facie compliance should be abolished as a separate step and that a court should rather consider whether awarding a claim for rectification would defeat the objects of formalities in general. Finally, the remedies available to a party who performs in terms of an agreement void for formal non-compliance and the effect of full performance in terms of such an agreement, receive attention. An investigation of the remedies available in other legal systems reveals that the South African approach of limiting a party to an enrichment claim is unnecessarily restrictive. It is argued that local courts should reconsider their exclusion of estoppel in this context, particularly in cases where one party’s unconscionable conduct has led the other to rely on the formally defective agreement. In cases of full performance, no remedies are available, but it is argued that a distinction should be drawn between reciprocal and unilateral performances.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die benadering tot statutêre formaliteite in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg. Dit fokus hoofsaaklik op die formele vereistes wat lei tot nietigheid in die geval van nie-nakoming, en in die besonder dié wat voorgeskryf word vir die vervreemding van grond (artikel 2 (1) van die Wet op Vervreemding van Grond 68 van 1981) en borgstellings (artikel 6 van die Algemene Regswysigingswet 50 van 1956). Ten einde die nodige konteks te verskaf, begin die studie met ‘n algemene historiese oorsig van die ontwikkeling van formaliteite. Dit oorweeg ook die voor- en nadele van formaliteite. Die gevolgtrekking is dat ‘n bewustheid van beide vereis word indien ‘n hof die uitdagings wat deur statutêre formaliteite gestel word, suksesvol wil hanteer. Die proefskrif oorweeg dan meer spesifieke aspekte van formaliteite, insluitende die verskil tussen wesenlike en nie-wesenlike bedinge. Dit toon ook dat die huidige opvatting van statutêre formaliteite redelik buigsaam is en tot ‘n bevinding van geldigheid lei waar dit redelikerwys moontlik is. Gevalle van onbenoemde of versweë prinsipale bied egter besondere uitdagings in hierdie verband en die moontlikheid word ondersoek om ‘n meer konsekwente, maar tegelyk teoreties-gefundeerde benadering te volg. ‘n Bespreking van wat op skrif moet wees, en met watter mate van sekerheid, behels noodwendig ‘n oorweging van die mate waarin ekstrinsieke getuienis toelaatbaar is. Die interaksie tussen formaliteite en die parol evidence-reël word derhalwe ondersoek. Spesiale aandag word bestee aan inlywing deur verwysing. Na oorweging van die benadering in gemeenregtelike stelsels, word die gevolgtrekking bereik dat ruimte bestaan vir ontwikkeling op hierdie gebied, veral met betrekking tot ‘n voldoende verwysing na ‘n ander dokument. Rektifikasie word ook breedvoerig hanteer, vanweë die eiesoortige benadering in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg. Waar formaliteite konstitutief van aard is, sal ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse hof eers vasstel dat ‘n ooreenkoms ex facie die dokument aan die formaliteite voldoen, voordat dit sal oorweeg of rektifikasie moontlik is. ‘n Ontleding van sivielregtelike en gemeenregtelike beslissings dui daarop dat die Suid-Afrikaanse benadering op ‘n wanbegrip van die doel van rektifikasie gebaseer is. Dit lei tot die verdere gevolgtrekking dat die vereiste van ex facie nakoming as ‘n afsonderlike stap afgeskaf behoort te word en dat ‘n hof eerder moet oorweeg of die toestaan van ‘n eis vir rektifikasie die oogmerke van die formaliteite in die algemeen sou verydel. Laastens word aandag geskenk aan die remedies beskikbaar aan ‘n party wat presteer ingevolge ‘n ooreenkoms wat nietig is weens nie-nakoming van formaliteite, asook die effek van volle prestasie kragtens so ‘n ooreenkoms. In eersgenoemde geval beperk die Suid-Afrikaanse reg daardie party tot ‘n verrykingseis. ‘n Ondersoek van die remedies beskikbaar in ander regstelsels toon dat dit onnodig beperkend is. Dit word aangevoer dat Suid-Afrikaanse howe die uitsluiting van estoppel in hierdie konteks moet heroorweeg, veral in gevalle waar een party se gewetenlose optrede daartoe lei dat die ander party staat maak op die formeel-gebrekkige ooreenkoms. In gevalle van volledige prestasie is daar geen remedies beskikbaar nie, maar dit word aangevoer dat ‘n onderskeid getref moet word tussen wedersydse en eensydige prestasies.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80135
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