Misrepresentation by non-disclosure in South African law

Cupido, Robin Vicky (2013-03)

Thesis (LLM)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the approach to non-disclosure as a form of misrepresentation in South African law. The primary focus is the question of liability, and whether parties should be able to claim relief based on non-disclosure. In order to determine this, attention is also paid to the standards which have traditionally been employed in cases of non-disclosure, and it is questioned whether a general test can be formulated which could be used in all such instances. The point of departure in this discussion is a general historical and comparative overview of the law relating to non-disclosure. This overview places the position in modern South African law in context, and highlights some of the similarities between our current position regarding non-disclosure and the position in other jurisdictions. The overview also sets out the provisions relating to non-disclosure in international legal instruments, which could be of use in interpreting concepts used in our law. The study then shifts to an exploration of the specific situations, such as the conclusion of insurance agreements, or agreements of sale involving latent defects, where South African law automatically imposes a duty of disclosure. These instances are the exception to the general rule against imposing duties of disclosure on contracting parties. The study reveals that certain principles are applied in more than one of these exceptional cases, and attention is paid to each in order to determine which principles are most prevalent. It is suggested that the nature of the relationship between the parties is the underlying reason for always imposing duties of disclosure in these circumstances. Attention is then paid to the judicial development of the law relating to non-disclosure, specifically in those cases which fall outside the recognised special cases referred to above. The remedies available to a party when they have been wronged by another’s non-disclosure are identified and investigated here, namely rescission and damages. A distinction is drawn between the treatment of non-disclosure in the contractual sphere and the approach taken in the law of delict. The different requirements for each remedy are explored and evaluated. A detailed examination of the key judgments relating to non-disclosure shows us that the judiciary apply similar principles to those identified in the discussion of the exceptional instances when deciding to impose liability based on non-disclosure. Reliance is also placed on the standards set out in the earlier historical and comparative discussion. The most prevalent of these standards are the nature of the relationship between the parties and the good faith principle. It is then considered whether all of these principles and elements could be used in order to distill one general standard that could be used to determine whether non-disclosure could give rise to relief. The conclusion is drawn that it may not be advisable to adopt such a standard, and that the seemingly fragmented treatment of non-disclosure in South African law thus far has enabled its development and will continue to do so. A number of key considerations have been identified as possible standards, and these considerations can be applied by the judiciary on a case by case basis.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek wanvoorstelling deur stilswye in die Suid-Afrikaanse kontraktereg. Die primêre fokus is op wanneer stilswye aanleiding gee tot aanspreeklikheid, en watter remedies daaruit voortvloei. Om dit vas te stel, word aandag geskenk aan die standaarde wat tradisioneel gebruik word in gevalle van stilswye, en word veral bevraagteken of 'n algemene toets formuleer kan word wat in al sulke gevalle toepassing sou kon vind. Die ondersoek begin met ‘n algemene historiese en regsvergelykende oorsig, wat die konteks verskaf vir die analise van die posisie in die moderne Suid-Afrikaanse reg, en ooreenkomste tussen hierdie posisie en die benadering in ander jurisdiksies na vore bring. Die bepalings van sekere internasionale regsinstrumente wat spesifiek met stilswye handel, word ook ondersoek om te bepaal hulle van nut kan wees by die uitleg van konsepte wat in die Suid- Afrikaanse reg gebruik word. Die fokus van die studie verskuif dan na spesifieke, uitsonderlike gevalle waar die Suid- Afrikaanse reg outomaties ‘n openbaringsplig tussen partye erken. Prominente voorbeelde is versekeringskontrakte en koopkontrakte waar die merx ‘n verborge gebrek het. Hierdie gevalle is uitsonderings op die algemene reël dat kontrakspartye nie openbaringspligte het nie. Dit kom voor dat sekere gemeenskaplike beginsels van toepassing is in sekere van die uitsonderingsgevalle, en dit word ondersoek hoekom hierdie beginsels gereeld na vore tree. Dit word ook voorgestel dat die aard van die verhouding tussen die partye die onderliggende rede is waarom ons reg openbaringspligte in hierdie spesifieke omstandighede oplê. Aandag word dan geskenk aan die regterlike ontwikkeling van die regsposisie ten opsigte van stilswye in gevalle wat nie by een van die bogenoemde erkende uitsonderings tuisgebring kan word nie. Die remedies beskikbaar aan partye wanneer hulle deur ‘n ander se stilswye benadeel is, word hier geïdentifiseer en ondersoek. Hierdie remedies is die kontraktuele remedie van aanvegting (moontlik gevolg deur teruggawe) en die deliktuele remedie van skadevergoeding. ‘n Onderskeid word ook getref tussen die hantering van stilswye in die kontraktereg en die benadering wat in die deliktereg gevolg word. Aan die hand van hierdie onderskeid word die vereistes vir albei remedies bepreek. Die belangrikste uitsprake van die howe in gevalle wat nie by die spesifieke, uitsonderlike kategorieë tuisgebring kan word nie, word dan oorweeg. Dit is duidelik dat die howe in die konteks van hierdie residuele gevalle soortgelyke beginsels geïdentifiseer het as dié wat voorgekom het by gevalle soos versekering en koop. Uit hierdie uitsprake blyk dit ook duidelik dat die howe ag slaan op soortgelyke standaarde as dié wat in die historiese en vergelykende oorsig na vore getree het. In dié verband is die aard van die partye se verhouding en die goeie trou beginsel veral prominent. Ten slotte word oorweeg of die beginsels en elemente wat hierbo geïdentifiseer is, gebruik kan word om ‘n algemene standaard te ontwikkel wat gebruik sal kan word om te bepaal of ʼn openbaringsplig ontstaan. Die gevolgtrekking word bereik dat so ‘n algemene standaard nie noodwendig die beste oplossing is nie. Die oënskynlik gefragmenteerde hantering van stilswye in die Suid-Afrikaanse het tot dusver tog regsontwikkeling bevorder, en sal waarskynlik ook voortgaan om dit te doen. ʼn Aantal kernoorwegings kan wel geïdentifiseer word, wat dan sou kon dien as moontlike standaarde wat regsontwikkeling verder sou kon bevorder, en wat deur die howe toegepas sou kon word na gelang van die spesifieke omstandighede van elke saak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80261
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