The court was asked to adjudicate upon an insurance claim that was repudiated by Outsurance in Jerrier v Outsurance Insurance (Pty) Ltd. Briefly, the facts in this case were that Jerrier had taken out an insurance policy with Outsurance to cover his household goods and motor vehicle. In terms of his policy, Outsurance offered a cash reward for not claiming. If there was no claim against the policy for the first three years of the policy, Jerrier’s cash reward was a reimbursement of 10% of the value of the premiums that he had paid. This reward increased to 20% for the following two years, and 25% for every year thereafter. The intention behind this incentive is clear: the customer is motivated to not lodge claims, specifically for minor incidents. After all, claims are bad business for an insurance company that has to foot the bill for the insured’s losses.
I have the opportunity of employing one of my competitor’s star salesman. This guy’s responsible for stealing a lot of my customers away from us, so it’s an opportunity I just can’t pass up to get our customers back and employ a brilliant salesman to boot. The problem is, we already have a full staff complement. So I was thinking of placing our worst performing salesman on suspension and doing a detailed investigation into his performance. We’ve been fairly relaxed about monitoring things like expense claims and working hours, so we’re bound to turn up enough dirt on him to dismiss him. Is there anything specific that we need to watch out for?
When placing an employee on suspension you need to have good cause, and follow a proper procedure. And even then the employee may not go quietly, using his ‘time off’ to scamper off to the Labour Court instead of sitting at home, putting his feet up in front of the telly while you go about investigating allegations and digging up any dirt you can find on him.
Nothing strikes more fear into the hearts of business owners that this one word: Suretyship. It’s a curse that sends them fleeing for the hills quivering in terror. Many businessmen and women can recount numerous war stories of the abuse suffered by guarantors at the hands of creditors who have manipulated and abused suretyships. At the other end of the spectrum, our courts are clogged with creditors kicking themselves for not having insisted on a suretyship before granting credit to their now defaulting debtor. Let’s face it: the suretyship is a very useful business tool. If used correctly, fairly and with both parties in agreement on the scope and parameters. It gives businesses access to the credit they so desperately need to do business. And it gives creditors the comfort they need to release goods before payment is made. There needs to be a balance between the competing interests of debtor and creditor. But all too often we hear of creditors upsetting this balance by claiming more than the surety originally bargained for. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Appeal came to the rescue by clarifying how a suretyship is to be interpreted and applied.
I am the Financial Director of a company. We sell tools, equipment and material to the building industry. A customer wants to order R80k worth of building materials from one of our stores on credit – and because we’ve found him to be an erratic payer we’ve asked him to sign a suretyship to secure payment, which he’s agreed to. His building company also happens to owe another one of our stores an amount of R500k for equipment that he purchased six months ago, which they’ve been battling to get him to pay. Because our stores trade under different names he doesn’t know that we’re all part of one company. This is a great opportunity for us to get him to sign a suretyship to us – and then once he’s signed it we’ll use it against him for the payment of the R500k. Can you help us word the suretyship document so that it covers us without raising his suspicions?
Racism: that’s the hot potato that saw 2015 out, that’s what plagued 2016 throughout the year, and that’s what saw 2017 in. The racial debate appears to be under a constant spotlight across social media, in the media, around dinner tables and water coolers. A number of key issues seem to have arisen, with a number of important lessons to be learnt.