Gentle Reader,

This will be the last edition of Business Bytes this year. We wish you a wonderful festive season and trust that you will find yourself rejuvenated in the year to come.




It is interesting to note the difference between the RMB/BER Business Confidence Report and that brought out by Grant Thornton (we are not really comparing apples to apples here). The former shows a slightly positive index of 51 and the latter a business confidence plunge from 35% in June to a current 3%. A similar figure applies to the Euro zone whilst that of Germany dropped from 79% to 36% at present.

Commentators say that the elephant in the room, when it comes to our fiscal shortfall, is VAT. One can increase the top marginal income tax rate to, say 43%, which will not generate significant revenue. It will only send the message that there are efforts to make our books balance. Increasing VAT slightly will generate a massive increase in state income: China's VAT rate is 17%, that of Russia 18% and India 5.5%.


An interesting development is that a new


One often sees claims by those who invest in property that, as an asset class, it outperforms other classes substantially. The latest salvo reports that the South African listed property market gave a total return of 19.38%, compared to that from general equities of 10.58%. (We will address this issue next year as we will be having John Loos over in March to talk on this very subject) At the same time Old Mutual expects listed property returns to slow to 9% next year.
Mr Loos predicts that our house prices will still inflate next year but at this level of below that of our consumer price inflation. This may be described as a "correction" and is reflective of a weak economy.

It is reported that the construction industry is faltering after a strong start this year. The difficulty appears to be the lack of growth in our economic sector.

Heaven, Jag thrown in: the new Magic Heaven Estate in the Stranger area is set to become our


The limits applicable to section 18 (3) estates was adjusted up from R 1205k to R250k on November 24. This also applies to the alienation of immovable property of minors and payments to guardians, tutors et cetera.

A practitioner, Mr Xulu, says that he represents 45,000 claimants who wish to benefit from funds held in unclaimed mining pensions. How he managed this beyond my understanding: the average attorney works a 1200 or so billable hours per year. Either the man runs a formidable machine or he is exaggerating just a tad. (I certainly hope that he does not work on contingency fees


Our Criminal Procedure Act states that if an accused is found to be mentally unfit for trial he must be confined to a psychiatric hospital or be otherwise incarcerated. This provision has been ruled unconstitutional.

Email cancellation of a contract.

One of the tenets of property law, introduced in 1971 by the Alienation of Land Act, is that contacts for the sale of land must be in writing and signed by the parties be legal. By extension, any variation or cancellation had to be in writing and signed also. The Supreme Court of Appeal has now ruled that a contract for the sale of land can lawfully be cancelled via email in pursuance of the provisions of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act. This will be of great use property lawyers as we are often faced with having to cancel a contract for the sale of land; to do this by registered snail mail