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Employment Law
Fixed term employees - Stricter regulations

1 January 2015 saw the introduction of stricter regulation of a-typical forms of employment with the Labour Relations Act (LRA) amended to include a number of provisions specifically aimed at giving labour broking employees, employees employed on fixed term contracts, and part-time employees greater protection. Except for the amendment to s186(1)(b) of the LRA, which applies to all employees irrespective of their level of remuneration, the amendments only apply to employees on a-typical work arrangements who earn below the prescribed earnings threshold.

Judgment on euthanasia redefines 'killing'

When Judge Hans Fabricius handed down judgment in the High Court in Pretoria recently that a medical professional who assists Robin Stransham–Ford in committing suicide will not be acting unlawfully, he changed both our criminal law and medical law.

Shipping and Logistics
Shark diving operators: test for negligence and limitation of liability

On April 13 2008 a shark-cage diving vessel, MV Shark Team, capsized after being struck by a large wave while on an excursion with a party of 10 tourists. The vessel was anchored at the time at the Geldsteen, an extensive reef system off the southwest coast of South Africa near Cape Town. Three of those on board drowned, including the claimant's husband, a US citizen. Sarah Tallman brought a claim for damages against the vessel in rem and for personal liability on the part of the skipper and the owner, respectively, for damages arising from the drowning.

General News
BGAG reaffirms its position as leading legal service provider across Africa

The Legal 500 publication has released its 2015 Report reaffirming Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group’s (BGAG) position as a leading pan-African legal services provider to corporates, financial institutions and the public sector across Africa. The Report notes that 10 lawyers from BGAG have been recognised as leading practitioners in a variety of categories by practice and a further 25 have received notable mentions. In addition, the group has also ranked in Tier 1 for Competition, Construction, Corporate M&A, Labour & Employment, Projects & Infrastructure, and Shipping & Transport.

The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Environment & Climate Change Law 2015 Edition

What is the basis of environmental policy in South Africa and which agencies/bodies administer and enforce environmental law? The environmental right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 ("the Constitution") and relevant national and provincial legislation are the basis for environmental policy. (This article appeared in the 2015 edition of The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Environment & Climate Change Law; published by Global Legal Group Ltd, London).

INSOL International appoints first African Vice-President

Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Partner, Adam Harris as Vice-President of INSOL International (International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals). INSOL International is a world-wide federation of national associations for accountants and lawyers who specialise in turnaround and insolvency. There are currently 40 Member Associations world-wide with over 10,000 professionals participating members. INSOL also has ancillary groups that represent the judiciary, regulators, lenders and academics and who play an invaluable role and provide valuable forums for discussions of mutual problems.

Employment Law
Firms need social media policy for staff

An Increasing number of people are engaging on social media platforms and they are also used by companies to promote their businesses. People are connected and are engaging with others around the world in a way that has never been possible before. However, the inappropriate use or abuse of social media has also led to several legal battles, in SA and around the world. There have been many arrests for cybercrimes and an increase in the number of employees dismissed for social media misconduct.

Employment Law
Importers take note: Proposed changes to SARS deferment scheme

Currently, if an importer applied for and is accepted into the SARS deferment scheme, the payment of import duty and import Vat may be deferred or suspended for up to 30 days. At the end of the 30 day period the importer is allowed a further 7 days within which to pay the deferred import duty and Vat to SARS. Currently, the 30 day deferment cycle may commence on any day of the month beginning with the 1st up to the 28th day of the month. There should be a pre-approved deferment limit in place which limits the amount of duty and Vat that may be deferred for the deferment cycle. If that amount is exceeded the importer will not be able to defer more import duty and Vat for the rest of that cycle.

Compulsory determinations for alcoholic beverages from 1 April 2015

SARS recently amended the customs and excise laws to make it compulsory for makers of alcoholic beverages such as beers, wines, ciders, spirits, coolers and other fermented beverages to apply for tariff determinations prior to release of a clearance upon import, and prior to removal of locally manufactured products from an excise manufacturing warehouse. It is not clear whether this compulsory tariff determination regime will be rolled out to other industries as well. Every manufacturer and importer must apply to SARS for a new tariff determination even if they have an existing SARS tariff determination in place.

Proposed rebates would mean world competitive pricing

The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (“ITAC”) is currently considering rebates on imported woven fabrics as well as the manufacture of electricity meters. On 30 January, the ITAC published a notice in the Government Gazette in respect of a proposed full rebate on imported woven products in South Africa which would enable importers to purchase fabrics without paying duties under certain conditions as well as a rebate provision in respect of electricity meters.

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