Over the course of your life you are bound to enter into more agreements than you’d probably care to think about. These agreements may be printed or electronic, express or tacit, written or verbal. When entering into an agreement, how often do you ask, “How will this end?” Probably not often. Yet it’s an important consideration. The best time to consider the end of an agreement is not at its end, but actually at its beginning. And the best way to agree on a contract’s termination conditions is in writing.
During your personal and professional life you are bound to enter into numerous legal agreements. But an often-overlooked question when you enter into an agreement is: when and how can you get out of the agreement? This generally depends on what was agreed in the terms and conditions of the contract.
Fixed-term: an agreement will end when the contract says it will end. If the agreement was only intended to last for a few months and expressly states that it will end on a pre-determined date, then the agreement will end on that date. Some agreements provide for a renewal. This renewal can be automatic, in which case you would need to notify the other party if you would rather the agreement terminates (and not renew). Or the renewal can be at the option of one or the other party, in which event you would have to notify the other party if you don’t want the agreement to terminate (and do want it to renew).
How effective is a verbal agreement? Is it binding? A lot of businessmen and women enter into verbal contracts without being entirely sure whether they’re valid, or how effective the contract is.
In general, South African law recognises verbal agreements. There are some exceptions to this. For example, a sale of property needs to be in writing, as does an ante-nuptial agreement. But unless there’s a statutory provision that says otherwise, oral agreements are, in theory, just as binding as written ones. In theory. The problem is that verbal agreements come with a lot of, well, problems.
There are many businesses that operate as a group of companies, using multiple business entities. There’re several reasons for this, including legal risk containment, acquisition strategies, creative accounting, the curious growth path of the business, or for other reasons lost in time. Whatever the reason, doing business across multiple entities generally concerns no-one except the bookkeepers tasked with keeping some semblance of order. Until the time comes to sue. Because that’s when a little concept called locus standi could become more than a thorn in your side.
With Spring having sprung, parents everywhere can finally look forward to spending their warm, sunny Saturdays cheering their children on in their chosen sporting events. Seated on the side of the school field, bums in camping chairs, feet on the cooler box, the worst that can happen is hitting a six through a classroom window, or forgetting about the sunscreen until halfway through the third over. Or is it?
Section 60 of the Employment Equity Act may not be all that well-known. But it should be. It can have severe consequences on any employer that fails to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. Section 60 effectively provides that when an employer becomes aware of a sexual harassment allegation, the employer must consult with all relevant parties and take “necessary steps” to eliminate the perpetrator’s conduct. The employer’s failure to do so may render it liable to pay rather hefty damages to the complainant.
With South Africa finally emerging from the mayhem of the last few months, many companies are knuckling down to doing business in the vastly different post-Zupta era. With court-cases galore, and scores lining up to become state-witnesses in return for saving their own skin, it has become clear that palm-greasing is no longer an acceptable business practice. Gifting a business colleague with a luxury German car is more likely to land you a jail cell than a sales order. Many questions are being asked about how the business will be conducted differently going forward. Company gift policies should feature prominently in any company’s post-Zupta Q & A sessions.
With South Africa’s unemployment rate soaring and job growth plummeting, it’s little wonder that job-seekers get more desperate with every rejection. After each futile interview, the CV gets tweaked and fine-tuned to ensure that the next one will go better. Unfortunately, several job-seekers fail to observe the line between stretching the truth and re-writing it all together. Exaggerating the status of your previous position is one thing. Fabricating your qualifications is a whole different ball-game. But fake “graduates” beware. As the following case shows, your actions are unlikely to curry favour with our courts.
A Members’ Agreement is also commonly referred to as an Association Agreement. It is a contract between the members of a close corporation, intended to set out the members’ roles and responsibilities. Is an Association Agreement a legal requirement? No. Close corporation members are not legally required to sign one. But if a CC has two or more members then a Members’ Agreement is highly recommended. A Members’ Agreement helps the members to define their respective roles in the CC, and sets out dispute resolution processes in the event that there is a dispute between the members. A Members’ Agreement helps to clarify members’ rights and obligations and can serve as an invaluable tool in the running of the business. By setting out expectations in writing the members know what is expected of them, and understand the consequences of breaching their duties as members. This often means that conflict can be avoided altogether, and any disputes can be diffused before they become a major issue.
So, you’ve downloaded your template contract from Agreements Online. Great choice! Or perhaps you’ve had an agreement custom-drafted by a lawyer, or your business associate has sent you their contract to sign. The next step is for you to sign your binding agreement and throw it on top of your over-flowing filing basket, right? Wrong! If you have a legal contract in hand you’re certainly 90% there. But you still need to do a few things before your document can be considered a legally-binding agreement and ready to be implemented.