Donald Dinnie

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Insurance, consensus and non-existent property

The basis for contractual insurance liability is actual consensus supported by the insureds’ and the insurers’ serious intention to be legally bound to what they have agreed to. There is no consensus if there is a material mistake relating to the identity of the parties to the insurance contract, or the object of the risk, … Continue reading

Offers of settlement and time-bars in insurance policies

In South Africa, for example, under the Policyholder Protection Rules or the Short-term Ombud’s Rules the running of statutory prescription and time-bar limitation periods provided for in an insurance policy may be suspended while a dispute is resolved. German law also provides for some circumstances in which the limitation period in an insurance coverage dispute … Continue reading

When does a claim under a liability policy prescribe?

A claim for indemnification under a liability insurance contract only arises when liability to a third party for a certain amount has been established. For purposes of prescription, the debt becomes due when the insured is under legal liability to pay a fixed and determined sum of money. Until then a ‘claim’ for indemnification under … Continue reading

Medical malpractice: A USA birth injury comparison

South African healthcare practitioners and insurers may take some comfort (on the basis that the grass is not greener) from the jury verdict of an Illinois, US Court in a medical malpractice claim against the West Suburban Medical Center and others. The jury awarded a record US$100.6 million damages against the hospital in respect of brain … Continue reading

Loss adjusters’ reports may not be privileged

Loss Adjusters’ reports are only privileged where the reports are prepared in contemplation of litigation and for the purpose of seeking legal advice. But it is not every insurance claim where litigation is likely or reasonably anticipated. The sole or dominant purpose of the creation of the report need not be for the purposes of … Continue reading

Mediation in the High Court

Successful mediation of any dispute is largely dependent on the skills and expertise of the mediator and the willingness and good faith of the parties to the mediation to engage in that process. So it is to be welcomed that the proposed new High Court Rule 41A doesn’t make mediation compulsory but is rather intended … Continue reading

The Big Read Book Series

Norton Rose Fulbright’s insurance practice is excited to announce the launch of its Big Read Book Series with the publications of Volume 1 and 2 in the series. The series is part of the insurance practice’s contribution to resourcing the insurance industry. Volume 1 is a collection of South African insurance judgments of 2018. Volume … Continue reading

Expert evidence

Parties to any dispute who rely exclusively on opinions of experts without establishing the factual basis for those opinions do so at their peril. The opinion of an expert must be based on facts that are established by the evidence. The court then assesses the opinions of experts on the basis of ‘whether and to … Continue reading

Presenting your evidence in the small claims court

The small claims court resolves matters speedily, inexpensively and informally. Whether you are the claimant (plaintiff) or the party opposing the claim (the defendant), you must conduct your own case in court without legal representation. Here are some tips on dealing with your small claims court case. Proceedings are inquisitorial so the commissioner plays an … Continue reading

The increasing need for risk management advice by lawyers

The risk landscape has led business people, and their legal and compliance teams, to bemoan the business world in which we live. Unsurprisingly, regulatory compliance is the top risk for most industries. Navigating the risk landscape is now a significant focus of businesses and while traditionally accountant-firm driven, risk advisory services offered by law firms … Continue reading

Redefining legal practice

Technological and business model disruption has spurred Norton Rose Fulbright’s focus in seeking new inventive solutions for clients. We are working with new and emerging technology to drive efficient legal services and to reduce costs. We are already providing cutting edge legal-tech solutions, and this will grow. For example, our ‘POPI Counsel’ is in essence … Continue reading

Law Commission report on medico-legal claims for comment by 30 September 2017

The South African Law Reform Commission has issued a lengthy paper on the investigations into medico-legal claims with proposals for the reform of the law in connection with those claims. The paper discusses the current situation and the legal principles underlying claims for damages for medical negligence, state liability, the basis for payment of compensation … Continue reading

Specialty lines insurance in Africa

Africa’s largely untapped specialty lines insurance market has significant opportunities for insurers willing to enter the region. As the market develops, more difficult and unusual risks will be written. Regulations which vary by country must be considered. For example, placing insurance with a locally licensed insurer is often a requirement or a percentage of the … Continue reading

Assisted suicide and doctors’ culpability

The Stransham-Ford judgment elicited much debate not only from a legal perspective but an ethical one. Both the Health Professions Council and the Ministry of Health have indicated that they are opposed to doctors playing any role in assisted suicide. In South African law the position remains according to the Stransham-Ford judgment that unless the … Continue reading

Contracting out of legislative protection

The law obliges medical schemes to pay the costs of treating prescribed minimum benefit conditions in full. The Supreme Court of Appeal in The Council for Medical Schemes v Genesis Medical Scheme provides a useful reminder of when a party may waive rights conferred by law for their benefit. The Medical Schemes Act does not … Continue reading

Setting aside an arbitration agreement

The Constitutional Court judgment in De Lange v Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa dealt with a number of interesting issues. One was whether good cause existed, as contemplated by the Arbitration Act, to set aside an arbitration agreement concluded between the parties. Neither the Arbitration Act nor our courts have expressly … Continue reading

Avoiding a policy for innocent over-valuation

Innocent over-valuation of insured property may entitle insurers to avoid a policy on grounds of material non-disclosure. There are no South African judgments on the point but an English court, dealing with a claim for a constructive loss of a super-yacht, “The Galatea“, reluctantly confirmed it was possible. In Involnert Management Inc v Aprilgrange Limited … Continue reading

Circumstances where the common-law ought to be developed

At common-law a lessee or a sub-lessee has no right to question the lessor or sub-lessor’s right to occupy property. The Constitutional Court was asked to develop the common-law in Mighty Solutions CC t/a Orlando Service Station v Engen Petroleum Ltd to require the lessor to establish its independent title to the property when claiming … Continue reading

Damages for repudiation of a contract

The law allows an innocent party to cancel a contract where the counter-party has wrongfully repudiated a contract, and then to claim damages. In calculating the damages, however, events following repudiation must be taken into account where the events would have reduced the value of performance, even without a breach, had the contract continued in … Continue reading

Non-disclosure, misrepresentation and waiver of the insurer’s right to avoid the policy

In an English court judgment in Brit UW Limited v F&B Trenchless Solutions Limited the insurer successfully sought a declaration that avoided a contractor’s combined liability policy. The policy had been issued to the insured as a specialist tunnelling contractor. A derailment of a train occurred at a site where the insured had recently constructed a … Continue reading

The dangers of compromising subrogation rights

The principle is trite that an insurer who pays the insured’s loss so that the insured receives a full indemnity has the right to step into the insured’s shoes and bring an action against the person responsible for the insured’s loss. Many policies also now provide for contractual subrogation even in circumstances where a complete … Continue reading
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