Chris Fick & Associates

Verbal agreements – Not much good, but lots of bad and ugly

“The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (Spaghetti Western, 1966) A common myth – one that can get you into a whole lot of trouble if you aren’t alive to it – is that verbal contracts are not legally enforceable in South Africa. The opposite is true. With very few exceptions, our law will hold […]

Heigh ho, Heigh ho, It’s off to court we go – But what are the costs of suing?

“Agree, for the law is costly” (Marcus Tullius Cicero) As Roman lawyer and statesman Cicero pointed out two millennia ago, litigation comes at a cost. So first prize will always be to settle out of court. If you can’t settle and decide to sue, arm yourself with “deep pockets and nerves of steel”, particularly if […]

Bodies corporate: Before you sequestrate to recover arrears…

“Bankruptcy – a fate worse than debt” (Anon) One of a Body Corporate’s fundamental duties is to collect monthly levies from the scheme’s members, and to take robust action to recover any arrears. As with any other creditor/debtor relationship however, trying to recover debt can be an exercise in frustration and delay, and the more […]

Does Your Dog Bite? Your (Substantial) Risk Remains

Sued for R2.3m by a man brutally savaged by his three dogs in a public street, the dogs’ owner was faced with a risk that has applied to all owners of domesticated animals for centuries – being held liable on a “no-fault” basis. That catches many pet owners off guard because it is very different […]

Friends and lovers: Before you lend out your car…

This is a case of a “love relationship” gone wrong but the principles of vehicle ownership apply to any situation in which you lend a motor vehicle to anyone else. A widely-held misconception is that if you are the registered owner of a car, it is yours and you are the owner. Not so, as […]

Your neighbour builds without plans – Can you get a demolition order?

What can you do if your neighbour has started (or finished) building without the necessary municipal approvals? In a nutshell, our courts will very probably assist you with a demolition order, as a recent High Court decision around a long-running property encroachment illustrates. The 16 year saga of an encroaching garage A couple, owners of […]