A statute should be construed to conform with the common law unless the statute itself evidences a plain intention on the part of the legislature to change the common law.

This observation was made in Engen Petroleum Limited v The Business Zone 1010 CC t/a Emmarentia Convenience Centre. The court found that section 12B of the Petroleum Products Act 1977 allowing the arbitration of some disputes cannot be interpreted to mean that the validity of the cancellation of the lease fell within the jurisdiction of an arbitrator.

Under our common law, cancellation of the agreement containing the arbitration clause is ordinarily the preserve of the courts.