Tag archives: Contract

Contracting with a trust

Where an agreement was purportedly entered into with a trust where one of two required trustees did not sign and in fact refused to do so, the agreement was void and there was no basis for an action compelling the sale to the trustee who did sign to buy the property. A signatory who warrants … Continue reading

Importing a tacit term into a contract

Where a non-variation clause and a whole agreement clause were included in a comprehensive contract dealing in detail with the subject matter between the parties, the court refused to import a tacit term into the contract. A tacit term is an unexpressed provision in the contract which derives from the common intention of the parties … Continue reading

Repudiation of a contract

Where the purchase price of imported sugar included the import duty and the purchase price had to be reduced if the duty was reduced, the persistent claim by the seller for the unreduced amount was a repudiation and led to the lawful cancellation of the sugar contract. Payment of the sugar contract was to be … Continue reading

Acceptance of settlement offer must be unconditional

The Supreme Court of Appeal has reaffirmed the principle that where a party alleges that a compromise (settlement) has been effected in an exchange of correspondence it must be proved that the offer of compromise was accepted. The acceptance must be absolute, unconditional and identical with the offer. Otherwise there is no consensus and no … Continue reading

Sanctity of contracts is good public policy

A lease was challenged on the grounds that the cancellation for non-payment of rent, after prior notice that the rent had not been paid, should not be enforceable because it was against public policy to cancel the agreement for the lease of a hotel that had been in place since 1982. Although good faith is … Continue reading

Rules of interpretation of contract

Clauses in a contract must be interpreted: by having regard to the language used in the light of the ordinary rules of grammar and syntax; in the context of the clauses being interpreted and the agreement as a whole; and taking into account the apparent purpose of the clauses so as to give the contract … Continue reading

Contracts need consensus

The basis of any contract is consensus between the two parties. The court in Vincorp (Pty) Ltd v Trust Hungary ZRT found that the two parties alleged by the plaintiff to be parties to a contract had different things in mind when they negotiated and that no contract came into being because it lacked the … Continue reading

Reciprocal performance under reciprocal contracts

The principle of reciprocity in contracts recognises the fact that in many contracts the common intention of the parties, expressed or unexpressed, is that there should be an exchange of performances. There is a presumption that interdependent promises are reciprocal unless there is evidence to the contrary. The common intention is that neither of the … Continue reading

Interpretation of contract: A lawyer’s understanding must not always be imposed on non-lawyers

In an important development of the law of interpretation of contracts, the Constitutional Court held in July 2017 that where ordinary laypeople use ordinary words in a contract, their understanding of the meaning of the words used must not be overridden by a lawyer’s understanding based on their knowledge of legal principles not familiar to … Continue reading

Election not to repudiate a contract may be changed for persistent default

Where one party repudiates a contract, the innocent party who elects to enforce performance can change that election and cancel the contract if the defaulting party persists in the breach by continuing to show an unequivocal intention not to remedy the breach or perform the contract. The plaintiff construction company in Primat Construction v Nelson … Continue reading

Principles of contract interpretation

Where parties signed a memorandum of understanding as an interim arrangement for ten months in anticipation of entering into a more comprehensive and lasting agreement the MOU was binding because the full agreement did not materialise. An attempt to call contextual evidence to change the agreement was not allowed. In the case of Urban Hip … Continue reading

Does the principle of pay now, argue later apply to an adjudicator’s decision given out of time?

When adjudication is incorporated into contracts, often construction contracts, as a means of dispute resolution it is usually included with other mechanisms such as mediation, arbitration and possibly even an approach to a court so that a party dissatisfied with an adjudicator’s award can attempt to rectify what is considered wrong with it in a … Continue reading

Legislation cannot always be incorporated into an agreement

You can incorporate legislation into a contract but you cannot attempt to bind non-consenting third parties, like the state or its regulators, by incorporating legislation. Obligations cannot be imposed on private third parties without their consent. For example, the parties in Firstrand Bank v Clear Creek Trading concluded a contract to which the National Credit … Continue reading

Interpretation of contracts – guarantees

In resolving the question whether a guarantee was a call guarantee or a conditional guarantee the Supreme Court of Appeal in Mutual & Federal v KNS Construction restated what has been said before about interpreting documents. The interpretative process is one of ascertaining the intention of the parties – what they meant to achieve. And … Continue reading
LexBlog