Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ)]]> vol. 14 num. 4 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <link></link> <description/> </item> <item> <title><![CDATA[<b>The right to self-determination of cultural, religious and linguistic communities in South Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Ubuntu</b>: <b>an African equity</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>"Just say sorry?" <i>Ubuntu</i>, Africanisation and the child justice system in the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008</b>]]> In the midst of concerns about serious offences committed by young people, the Child Justice Act is the first formal legislative step to introduce restorative justice in South Africa, and promotes reconciliation and problem solving as an approach to the criminal behaviour of youth. This article analyses the new place of restorative justice and ubuntu in the Act through an analysis of the Preamble, Objects and General Principles sections of the Act as well as the chapters on diversion and sentencing. It notes that there is a clear and consistent framework for restorative justice and ubuntu in the Act that accords with the Constitutional Court's understanding of both concepts. In addition, the article also enquires if the inclusion of these concepts has created a criminal justice system for children that does not hold them properly accountable for their actions. The question as to whether or not the Act has created a "just say sorry" regime is answered in the negative by way of reference to the numerous checks and balances included in the Act by the legislature. In this context it is contended that the inclusion of ubuntu-related ideologies remains relevant to the development of indigenous and locally constructed images of Africanised forms of justice, but that the true test of how it is integrated into the criminal justice system lies in the manner in which criminal justice role-players engage with ubuntu and how its implementation is effected <![CDATA[<b>The status and role of legislation in South Africa as a constitutional demoracy</b>: <b>some exploratory observations</b>]]> This note explores the proposition that in the face of probably one of the most unequivocal forms of constitutional review in a modern day state, legislation in South Africa has since 27 April 1994 grown in status (and stature) nonetheless, and has assumed an unprecedented role in our constitutional democracy. First, it is shown how constitutional review with the necessary judicial self-restraint has instilled respect for legislation in the context of and with reference to the separation of powers. Second, it is shown that and how statutes have become (subsidiary) allies to the Constitution and have been standing the realisation of constitutional values in good stead. Finally, it is argued that the constitutional requirement of popular participation in legislative deliberation has also added to the esteem for legislation in our constitutional democracy. <![CDATA[<b>In defence of Pashukanism</b>]]> This essay presents an extended defence of the general theory of law formulated by the Bolshevik jurist, Evgeny Pashukanis, and published in his Law and Marxism: A General Theory in 1924. The general theory is a theory of the legal form. Although Pashukanis did not name his theory, it has become known as the commodity form theory of law because of its theorising the legal form as a homologue of the commodity form. However, despite having weighty Marxist and revolutionary Bolshevik credentials, the general theory has been subjected to sustained attack, especially from new left and neo-Marxist circles. This essay identifies and explicates six major objections to Pashukanism from its left critics. These are that the general theory is too abstract to comprehend the reality of legal relations; that it is infused with economic reductionism; that it derives the legal form wrongly from commodity exchange; that it classifies the legal form incorrectly as an attribute of capitalism only; that it lacks the generality required of a general theory of law; and that it is imbricated in the growth of anarchism and Stalinism. Following a brief exegetical exercise, the bulk of the essay is devoted to demonstrating in detail that each of the six objections to the general theory is without merit, and that none makes any serious incursion into its integrity as a theory of the legal form. The central submission of the essay is that the Pashukanist general theory of law is rooted in the first principles of classical Marxism and hence may lay claim legitimately to being the Marxist theory of law. <![CDATA[<b>DNA profiling and the law in South Africa</b>]]> DNA evidence is currently at the forefront of the arsenal of evidence employed in criminal trials. To ensure its optimum use in criminal proceedings, it is imperative that the legal fraternity is properly conversant with the scientific basis and presentation of such evidence, as well as with its potential pitfalls. In an effort to provide the legal profession with a background to this complex and useful type of evidence, this article looks at the biochemical nature of DNA, at DNA profiling and its use in criminal trials, and at the processes of DNA collection and analysis in the Biology Unit of the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service. The presentation of DNA evidence in court is then evaluated and the future of DNA evidence, including legislative reform, and the creation of a DNA database are discussed.<hr/>DNA-getuienis is tans van wesenlike belang in die arsenaal van getuienis wat in strafsake gebruik word. Ten einde die optimale gebruik van DNA-getuienis in strafregtelike verrigtinge te verseker, is dit noodsaaklik dat regslui met die wetenskaplike basis en die aanbieding van sodanige getuienis vertroud moet wees, sowel as die moontlike slaggate daarvan. In 'n poging om die regsprofessie met agtergrond van hierdie komplekse en bruikbare tipe getuienis te voorsien, word daar in hierdie artikel na die bio-chemiese aard van DNA, DNA profilering en die aanwending daarvan in strafsake, die versamelingsproses van DNA en ontleding in die Biologie Eenheid van die Forensiese Wetenskap Laboratorium van die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens gekyk. Die aanbieding van DNA-getuienis in die howe word ge-evalueer en die toekoms van DNA-getuienis, insluitende wetgewende hervorming, asook die daarstelling van 'n DNA-databasis, word bespreek. <![CDATA[<b>The requirement of being a "fit and proper" person for the legal profession</b>]]> An important requirement for admission as an attorney or advocate is to be a "fit and proper" person. Lawyers are also struck from the respective rolls of advocates or attorneys if they cease to be "fit and proper". This requirement of being a "fit and proper" person is not defined or described in legislation. It is left to the subjective interpretation of and application by seniors in the profession and ultimately the court. In the apartheid years this requirement was applied arbitrarily but today the question may be asked why some lawyers who have been found to be "fit and proper" do not act as such. The pre-admission character screening of lawyers seems not to be effective any more. Post-admission moral development is imperative. <![CDATA[<b>Information and knowledge management at South African law firms</b>]]> Global and national law firms alike operate in a challenging business environment and managing the firm's information and knowledge assets is increasingly viewed as a key factor in efficient legal service delivery. In legal practice, information management technologies, for example intranets, portals, workflow management systems, document and content management systems, case and project management systems and online dispute resolution systems are becoming important means of legal service delivery. The reason for applying information management technologies and implementing knowledge management strategies in law firms is not only to satisfy clients' growing need for a trusted online platform to interact with legal service providers, but for law firms to capitalise on their intellectual assets, to continuously modernise legal practice management, to empower lawyers, to increase productivity, to use time efficiently, to transfer skills and knowledge from senior to junior professionals, to improve service delivery and to gain competitive advantage. This article firstly reviews the role of information and knowledge management in providing an effective legal service to clients and compares foreign and South African law firms' information management related contexts, challenges and benefits. Secondly, it presents the findings of a survey conducted at South African law firms based on their knowledge management practices. The aim of the article is to provide insights into law firm knowledge management and its effect on providing legal services in an online business environment. <![CDATA[<b>Distinguishing between private law and social-security law in deducting social grants from claims for loss of support</b>]]> This article attempts to highlight the potential danger in applying private-law principles to social-security law in deciding whether or not social grants should be deducted from awards for damages. Typically, this issue comes to the fore where a damage-causing event, such as death, sets into motion a system that provides for the payment of social benefits, damages or both. In social-security law, the receipt of more than one social benefit is called "double dipping", whereas in private law the problem of double compensation is addressed by applying the collateral-source rule. In some instances the applicable legislation clearly prescribes the deduction or not of the social benefit, but unfortunately our legislation is not always clear on this issue and this can best be illustrated by two recent conflicting decisions in Makhuvela (SGHC) and Timis (SCA). In Makhuvela the court held that a foster-care grant should be disregarded in calculating the award for damages, inter alia because the child will never have a claim to the grant. In Timis the SCA distinguished the facts from Makhuvela and held that the child-support grants received by the mother after the father's death are directly linked to the death of the father and should therefore be deducted from her claim for loss of support. It is submitted that although the outcome of the Timis decision is correct, the court should have incorporated the means test into the process of deciding if the grant should be deducted from the compensation. A two-phase approach is suggested: first determine if the receipt of the grant is directly linked to the death of the breadwinner, and secondly determine how the grant and the subsequent settlement paid by a wrongdoer will affect the circumstances of a particular individual or family. The objectives in social-security law differ from the objectives in the law of damages and therefore the principles applied in cases of double dipping cannot be equated with those applied in cases of collateral benefits. <![CDATA[<b>The Southern African Development Community trade legal instruments compliance with certain criteria of GATT Article XXIV</b>]]> Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) lays down the legal principles with which regional trade agreements have to conform. Based on these principles, WTO members have the mandate to determine the legality of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) under the GATT. Article XXIV permits both regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements leading to the formation of customs unions and free trade areas, and seeks to integrate them in the multilateral trading system envisioned for the world. SADC is an RTA created under this Article. Notwithstanding the controversies surrounding the provisions and interpretation of Article XXIV, this paper seeks to establish the extent to which the SADC Protocol on Trade and free trade area comply with WTO rules. An analysis of selected Article XXIV provisions and the SADC Trade Protocol provisions will be undertaken in trying to establish this compliance. <![CDATA[<b>The Value Added tax Implications of illegal Transactions</b>]]> In the case of MP Finance Group CC (In Liquidation) v CSARS the High Court of Appeal ruled that income "received by" a taxpayer from illegal gains will be taxable in the hands of the taxpayer. This article explores whether or not the decision in the MP Finance-case (and preceding cases on the taxation of illegal receipts) can be applied to determine if illegal transactions are subject to VAT and moreover if a trader in illegal goods and services should register as a VAT vendor. Although strictly speaking no analogy can be drawn between the charging provisions for income tax and VAT, it is clear that in the determination of the taxability of illegal income, the courts applied the principle of tax neutrality. In terms of the principle of tax neutrality, taxes are not concerned with the legality or illegality of a transaction, but rather with whether the transaction complies with the requirements for it to be taxed or not. That said, the European Court of Justice has a different approach in applying this principle. According to the European Court of Justice where the intrinsic nature of the goods excludes it from the commercial arena (like narcotic drugs) it should not be subject to VAT, but where the goods compete with a legal market it must be subject to VAT. Charging VAT on illegal transactions might give the impression that government benefits from criminal activities. However, if illegal transactions are not subject to VAT the trader in illegal goods will benefit as his products will be 14% cheaper than his rival's. Is this necessarily a moral dilemma? In conclusion three arguments can be deduced on the question if illegal transactions should be subject to VAT: 1. Illegal transactions should not be taxed at all. Illegal goods or services fall outside the sphere of the application of the charging provision in section 7(1) of the VAT Act. Moreover, taxing illegal transactions lends a quasi-validity to the contract and gives the impression that government benefits from crime. 2. The intrinsic nature of the goods concerned should determine the VAT-ability thereof. Where the nature of the goods excludes it from the commercial sphere, like narcotics, it should not be subject to VAT. Where the illegal goods compete with a legal market the goods should be subject to VAT to eliminate unjust competition. 3. The principle of tax neutrality makes it clear that the illegality of a transaction has no influence on its taxability. The charging provision in terms of section 7(1) of the VAT act is not concerned with the legality of the transaction. If the transaction complies with the requirements for it to be taxed, it should be subject to VAT.