Trading rights as a novel category of servitudes in South African law

Kiewitz, Leigh-Ann (2019-12)

Public Law

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation sought to determine whether it is possible to recognise trading rights as a category of servitudes; what its nature and content would be if such recognition is possible; and, under which conditions such servitudes could be registered. South African case law has revealed the courts’ willingness to regard the right of an individual to trade on another’s land, and a right to prevent another person from trading on their own land, as a praedial or a personal servitude. However, the relevant case law is not equally clear in all instances, especially in terms of whether the requirements of servitude law would be complied with. This dissertation provides a methodology that courts should follow to ensure that the particular right complies with all the requirements. When the subtraction from the dominium test as developed by case law is applied, it is clear that trading rights could amount to real rights because they place a burden on land by means of restricting the owner of the servient tenement’s enjoyment in a physical sense. For purposes of positive and negative praedial trading servitudes, the crucial issue for compliance with the utilitas requirement is that the dominant tenement must be developed, appointed and used in a way that would render the servitude useful for the dominant land on a durable basis. Negative servitudes in restraint of trade are a contested matter based on the fact that they could stir up anti-competitiveness. However, convincing policy arguments exist for the recognition of such servitudes. Moreover, if negative trading rights can be recognised as real rights, legislation will be necessary to ensure that the rights of the parties benefiting from the servitude and affected thereby are balanced adequately. Accordingly, it is concluded that a legislative framework should be adopted containing conditions under which these negative servitudes in restraint of trade should be registered as limited real rights. If a negative trading right does not comply with the requirements for the establishment of a praedial servitude, it is conceivable that a personal servitude may be established. In seeking alternatives to structuring trade agreements, a positive right to trade could be established as either a lease agreement or an innominate contract. It has also been discovered that a restraint of trade agreement could alternatively be set up as a restrictive covenant. After having evaluated all the possible legal constructs, it is concluded that it is preferable to secure a positive right to trade by means of a praedial servitude, personal servitude or a registered long-term lease agreement. This is because an individual’s rights will certainly be better protected in the form of a limited real right because it is stronger than a personal right as it will be enforceable erga omnes. Due to the synonymous content of a restrictive covenant and a negative servitude in restraint of trade, this dissertation shows that a servitude would suffice to secure this negative right. Furthermore, restrictive covenants are precarious in nature and have essentially become redundant in South African law. Therefore, structuring restraint of trade agreements as a servitude would arguably be more suited.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif het beoog om te bepaal of dit moontlik is om handelsregte te erken as ‘n kategorie van serwitute en indien moontlik, wat die aard en inhoud van sodanige serwitute sal wees en onder welke omstandighede sulke serwitute geregistreer kan word. Suid-Afrikaanse regspraak illustreer die howe se bereidwilligheid om die reg om op iemand anders se grond handel te dryf, en die reg om ‘n ander te verhoed om handel op sy eie grond te bedryf, te erken as ‘n erfdiensbaarheid of persoonlike serwituut. Desnieteenstaande, is die relevante regspraak nie duidelik in alle gevalle nie, veral met betrekking tot die vraag of hierdie regte in ooreenstemming met die vereistes vir die vestiging van ‘n serwituut sal wees, al dan nie. Die proefskrif voorsien ‘n metodologie wat die howe behoort te volg ten einde toe te sien dat die reg wel aan al die vereistes voldoen. Wanneer die ‘subtraction from the dominium’ toets soos ontwikkel deur regspraak toegepas word, illustreer die proefskrif dat dit inderdaad moontlik is dat handelsregte wel as saaklike regte geag kan word indien dit ‘n las op die grond plaas tot die mate waarin dit die eienaar van die grond se bevoegdhede op die dienende grondstuk, fisies beperk. Vir doeleindes van positiewe en negatiewe handels erfdiensbaarhede, is die belangrike kwessie vir ooreenstemming met die utilitas vereiste dat die heersende erf ontwikkel, toegewys en gebruik moet word op so ‘n wyse dat die serwituut op ‘n volhoubare basis, bruikbaar vir die heersende erf moet wees. Negatiewe handelserwitute is egter ‘n betwiste aangeleentheid aangesien sodanige ooreenkomste aanleiding kan gee tot anti-mededinging. Desnieteenstaande, bestaan daar oortuigende beleids-argumente vir die erkenning van sodanige serwitute. Verder, indien negatiewe handelsregte as beperkte saaklike regte erken kan word, sal wetgewing benodig word ten einde te verseker dat die regte van die partye wat bevoordeel en geaffekteer word daardeur gebalanseer word. Die slotsom is dat ‘n wetgewende raamwerk voorgestel en geïmplementeer moet word wat voorwaardes bevat wat bepaal wanneer sodanige serwitute geregistreer kan word as beperkte saaklike regte. Indien ‘n handelsreg nie in ooreenstemming is met die vestigingsvereistes vir ‘n erfdiensbaarheid nie, dan is dit moontlik dat ‘n persoonlike serwituut geregistreer kan word. Ten einde alternatiewe te soek vir die strukturering van handelsregte, kan ‘n positiewe reg om handel te dryf ook gereguleer word deur ‘n huurooreenkoms of as ‘n innominate kontrak. ‘n Handelsbeperkingsooreenkoms kan ook alternatiewelik as ‘n beperkende voorwaarde geregistreer word. Nadat alle moontlike regstrukture geëvalueer is, is die gevolgtrekking dat ‘n positiewe reg om handel te dryf verkieslik die struktuur van ‘n erfdiensbaarheid, persoonlike serwituut of die struktuur van ‘n geregistreerde lang-termyn huurooreenkoms moet aanneem. Die rede vir hierdie gevolgtrekking is dat individue se regte beter beskerming sal geniet in die vorm van ‘n beperkte saaklike reg as ‘n persoonlike serwituut aangesien dit erga omnes afdwingbaar sal wees. Weens die ooreenstemmende inhoud van ‘n beperkende voorwaarde en ‘n negatiewe serwituut wat handelsregte beperk, illustreer die proefskrif dat ‘n serwituut voldoende sal wees om sodanige reg te beskerm. Verder, beperkende voorwaardes is onseker van aard en word geag oorbodig te wees in die Suid-Afrikaanse regstelsel. Daarom sal die bepaling van die beperking van handelsregte as ‘n serwituut waarskynlik beter geskik wees.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106977
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