" The next step, accordingly, is to interpret the wording of a contract in the context of other provisions in the document read as a whole: that is, the textual context. A general comparison between the principles of the law of specific contract in South Africa and its English counterpart A contract of sale, for instance, obliges the seller to deliver the thing being sold to the buyer. While the first step in construing a contract is still to ascertain the ordinary, grammatical meaning of the words used, “it should be recognised that very few words have a single meaning, and even the ‘ordinary’ meaning of a word may vary according to, or be qualified by, the factual context in which it is used.” A court should therefore be alive to the various possible meanings of the words, and should not approach the matter on the basis that a particular meaning predominates. Mistakes have historically been categorised according to type. Divorce Laws And Process Of Divorce In Nigeria. The governing principle is that the courts will not enforce agreements judged to be contrary to public policy. Long leases of land, which require writing, notarial execution, and registration against a title deed, in terms of the Formalities in respect of Leases of Land Act; Mortgages, which require writing, drawing up by a. This would have gone some way toward eliminating the background-surrounding differentiation. Evidence relevant to such an allegation or application then becomes admissible, although it would have been inadmissible for the purposes of interpreting a written term of the contract. The effect of cancelling a contract is that the primary and unexecuted obligations of the parties are extinguished. Jacobs accordingly sued him. Hybrid contracts have a fixed time as well as a termination option. Essential elements of an agreement of sale of immovable property are: parties (buyer & seller); price (purchase price); subject of sale (immovable property); prescribed formalities (agreement must be in writing … A detailed summary of concessionary agreements, cessions in security, pledges and the lega... View more. An offer is different from an invitation to treat which only invites someone to make an offer, and is not intended to be contractually binding. If, in a basic example, Warne sells a car to Cullinan, and Cullinan has not the money to pay for it, Warne may refuse to hand over the car. The courts have shown a willingness to intervene if a party exercises a contractual power in a manner that fails to respect the constitutional rights of another party, and may even, in appropriate circumstances, be willing to compel one party to contract with another on constitutional grounds. When, therefore, the contract as written is lacking or incomplete, there is no problem with then referring to extrinsic evidence. Consignation (payment into court with notice to the creditor) appears to have fallen into desuetude, and is in any event impossible or impracticable in many cases (as in the case where perishables are to be delivered). All persons, whether natural or juristic, have passive legal capacity and can therefore bear rights and duties, but not all have contractual capacity, which enables persons to conclude the contracts by which those rights and duties are conferred. If Jaylynne undertakes to cut down the tree in return for the money, the agreement is not conditional: Jaylynne is bound to perform her side of the bargain. During English rule, this difference gave rise to a celebrated dispute in early South African law. The object of the party seeking to adduce such extrinsic evidence is usually to enforce the contract as redefined or, at any rate, to rely upon the contractual force of the additional or varied terms, as established by the extrinsic evidence.. The true basis of contract, then, is to be found in the concurring declarations of the parties, not in what they actually think or intend. In Durban's Water Wonderland v Botha, where the respondent and her child sustained injuries when they were thrown off a malfunctioning jet ride at an amusement park, the court found that the exemption clause clearly covered any liability based on negligence related to the ride's design or manufacture. Where there is no such express agreement, circumstances may nevertheless be present from which a tacit choice of law may be inferred (for example, where the contract deals with concepts peculiar to a particular system), but such cases are in the nature of things relatively rare. Mistake presupposes an absence of consensus and renders the contract void ab initio, whereas a contract induced by a misrepresentation is valid but voidable. If, therefore, the parties are engaged in a particular trade and know that there is a trade usage governing their transaction, they are taken to have tacitly incorporated it into their contract. The time has arrived for us to accept that there is no merit in trying to distinguish between "background circumstances" and 'surrounding circumstances".  De Villiers, however, refused to concede the point, so that the dispute continued until 1919, almost 50 years after it began, it was settled by the Appellate Division of the South African Supreme Court in the famous case of Conradie v Rossouw, where the court took the Transvaal view that a binding contract may be constituted by any serious and deliberate agreement made with the intention of creating a legal obligation, and in so doing, simultaneously abolished the iusta causa and consideration doctrines. An offer is a statement of terms which the person making the offer is prepared to be contractually bound to. It must be his responsibility, not out of his control. The words are to be construed in their extended context: One may point to one of several "ordinary" meanings, or to an unusual or technical meaning. This party decides whether to terminate the contract or to settle it, or else to keep it alive if this is in the best interests of the estate. A party relying on a written contract must prove its existence, and obviously oral evidence by or for him is admissible for that purpose. Liability for breach of contract is distinct from liability in delict, and fault is not a general requirement for the recovery of damages for breach of contract. It often operates to prevent the leading of valuable evidence, but, for all its difficulties, it serves the purpose of ensuring that, where the parties have decided that a contract should be recorded in writing, their decision will be honoured and the resulting document accepted as the sole evidence of its terms. Where no time is stipulated, the obligation is discharged if a condition, of a type that is not for the specific benefit of one party only, remains unfulfilled after the lapse of a reasonable time. The creditor must not have repudiated the contract or rendered performance by the debtor impossible; otherwise the breach renders performance impossible. With respect to inflation, the principle of nominalism applies: The courts do not make inflation adjustments. All claims are. 2. When it becomes clear that an event can no longer take place, the condition is satisfied and the agreement works on that basis. Such a clause is in favour of both parties and therefore does not offend the constitutional principle of equality. A term, on the other hand, imposes an obligation upon the party or parties concerned to make certain performance. A person may add a further element to this definition, that the agreements have the right to be bonded on both parties. They are binding on the parties without their having made any explicit agreement as to the points in question. Gerike v Sack was a delict case. The better view is that the nature of the contract is unaffected by the condition. Time is generally of the essence of a contract in mercantile transactions, particularly in respect of commodities that fluctuate in value, but not as a rule in transactions concerning land. Release is an agreement between the parties to ‘release’ the debtor from having to perform. Even in the absence of such a clause, however, the circumstances often show that the parties regard the time for performance as being of the essence of the contract: for example, where they use precise language in fixing the time, or deliberately alter the date fixed in the original draft of the contract. Where there is a problem with the foundation of the contract, the courts must resolve this before attempting to interpret the contract. The rule excluding oral evidence derives not from the Roman-Dutch law, but from the English law of evidence, which has been adopted throughout South Africa by legislation. An underlying principle of the law of contract (pacta sunt servanda or sanctity of contract) is that agreements seriously concluded should be enforced, but agreements that are clearly detrimental to the interests of the community as a whole, whether they are contrary to law or morality (contra bonos mores), or if they run counter to social or economic expedience, is not enforced. The status in this regard of proposals and tenders is contingent on the intention of the parties, which is in turn determined by the circumstances of each individual case. For example, a property developer contracts an agent to find him a designer for a golf course he wishes to build, but does not give a specific time for the completion of this task; it is an open agreement. A divisible contract is one that can be divided into separate contracts, each having one or more obligations. It is the opposite, then, of delegation. In such a case, the innocent party may recover damages in respect of any financial loss suffered as a result of the delict, irrespective of whether he elects to affirm or rescind the contract. The Act also provides for payment of mora interest on judgment debts where such debts would ordinarily not be interest-bearing. Debts arising from licensed gambling activities are valid and fully enforceable in law. If, therefore, one owed R100 in 1990, it remains R100 today. Usually it is the person upon whom the obligation is imposed. As in all serious cases of breach, the innocent party has a choice of whether to rescind or to affirm the contract, and is relieved of his obligations in terms of the contract. Acquisitive prescription describes the acquisition of property, or rights of ownership, and therefore falls outside the scope of contract law. Tjakie Naudé, “Which Transactions Trigger a Right of First Refusal or Preferential Right to Contract?”, p. 461: n4. Lastly, principles of good language and grammar, and proper numbering, should be used throughout. An interpellatio is a demand added or appended to the contract after the fact. Whereas a concurrence of wills between the parties is usually regarded as the primary basis of contractual liability (will theory), mistake (error) in contract refers to a situation in which a contracting party acts under a misapprehension, causing disagreement (dissensus) between the parties. In the absence of delectus personae, performance could also be rendered by third parties, including: It is important to note, however, that the third party is a stranger to the contract and is therefore not bound to perform; if he does not, it is the party who promised he would who is liable. Three parties are concerned with this act the: The delegatee, in other words, is introduced as a debtor in place of the delegator (the original debtor), who is thereby discharged of his obligations. This interpretation must be one to which the language is fairly susceptible; it must not be fanciful or remote. A natural obligation, relatively unusual, may not be enforced in a court of law, but it is not without legal significance: Natural obligations arise when, for example, a minor concludes a contract: If the other party is major or a juristic person, he is bound by a civil obligation, but the minor is bound only by a natural obligation.  Nor does the rule prevent the leading of evidence to show that the written document was subject to a precedent condition not expressed in the document, provided the condition is a true condition which suspends the operation of the contract without varying any of its terms. (The exceptions to this occur when the law or the parties prescribe such formalities.) The usual remedies for breach are available to the debtor. A suspensive condition (or condition precedent), therefore, is one that suspends the operation of the obligation until the condition is fulfilled. Until the condition is fulfilled, however, the obligation is neither enforceable nor capable of being performed. In the event of the debtor's insolvency (or liquidation if it is a company), the contract is not terminated immediately; its resolution is left to a trustee or judicial manager, to whom the insolvent estate is handed over. If their supposition is confirmed, the contract proceeds, if not, the contract falls away. In addition to rescission and restitution, the threatened party may recover damages in delict for any loss caused through entry into the contract. As for what constitutes performance, the case of BK Tooling v Scope Precision Engineering, with its review of the principle of reciprocity and the exceptio non adimpleti contractus, sets out several clear requirements:. Where terms are not prohibited outright, they are subject to a requirement of fairness and reasonableness. 4. In Government of the Republic of South Africa v Fibrespinners & Weavers the Appellate Division gave effect to a clause exempting an employer from liability for theft by its employee. They are interpreted restrictively, confining them within reasonable bounds to the extent that this can be done without straining the clear meaning of a clause. Simple joint liability or entitlement confers on each a pro rata share: either in equal or, by agreement, in specific shares. An innocent party only needs to prove that a breach of contract was a cause of the loss, not that it was the dominant cause of the loss. Cancellation takes effect ex nunc (from that point onwards) when the other party is informed of it. Mere accession to land, in the case of buildings, does not amount to utilisation. 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