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General News
Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group Partnership Board Announcements

Robert Legh, Chairman of Bowman Gilfillan, has today announced new appointments to the Partnership Board. To read further, please click on the news article heading.

The International Comparative Legal Guide to Environment & Climate Change Law 2014 Edition

What is the basis of environmental policy in South Africa and which agencies/bodies administer and enforce environmental law? When is an environmental permit required, and may environmental permits be transferred from one person to another? 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. The Constitution provides that "the Environment" is a functional area of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence.

General News
Bowman Gilfillan Appoints Managing Partner

It gives us great pleasure to announce the appointment of Alan Keep as Managing Partner with immediate effect. Internationally ranked as leader in his field, and a member of the International Bar Association, Alan is a Partner in the firm’s Corporate Department and Head of the Tax Practice Area in Johannesburg.

Alan has recently worked on major transactions for South African and international clients in the banking, beverages, financial services, mining, property and communications sectors. He has advised on the structuring and implementation of numerous significant black economic empowerment transactions in the South African market.

Annual Budget Speech for 2015 Announced

On February 26 2014 South Africa's finance minister delivered the annual budget speech for the 2015 financial year. This update considers the highlights for the customs and excise sector. In the 2013 Budget, the Customs and Excise Act was amended to align the excise duty provisions for fruit beverages with the requirements of the Liquor Products Act 1989. As a result, only products that are predominantly fruit fermented are distinctly classified in this beverage category. In addition, fermented alcoholic beverages that are not mainly derived from fruit are included in the "other" tariff band. The intention was to increase the excise duty rate of this band to the highest excise rate – the full spirits rate – from February 2014 onwards. However, after further consultation it is proposed that this increase be postponed to Budget 2015. The possibility of providing for grain fermented alcoholic beverages will also be explored.

The Tax Disputes and Litigation Review

With effect from 1 October 2012 the administration provisions of the various tax acts were moved to a new act, called the Tax Administration Act, 2012. The Tax Administration Act basically sets out the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the taxpayer's obligations and entitlements.

The drafting of the Tax Administration Act was announced by the Minister of Finance in the 2005 Budget Review, and eventually promulgated on 4 July 2012. In terms of the law that has created SARS, (i.e., the South African Revenue Service Act) SARS's objectives include the efficient and effective collection of taxes. Tax legislation, such as the Tax Administration Act, seeks to achieve this objective.

General News
Chambers & Partners’ 2014 Global Report

Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group Chairman Rob Legh expressed his delight at Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group once again being included in the prestigious survey of Chambers and Partners Global Report for 2014, which reaffirms the Group as a leading pan-African legal services provider.

Developments in Africa’s Competition Law

Competition law developments in Africa continue to be closely monitored globally. Regional competition law in Africa took the spotlight in 2013, with the COMESA Competition Commission (the "CCC") commencing operations on 14 January 2013. 

The CCC's initial year was not without serious challenges. 

In particular, the international business and legal community raised concerns about the merger filing thresholds being set at nil and the high filing fees payable for merger notifications to the CCC; certain regulators within the COMESA region itself have not accepted the CCC as a "one stop shop" for merger notifications; and the COMESA Competition Regulations (the "Regulations") are dated and unclear in many respects, making their interpretation and application problematic.

South Africa’s VAT changes: The impact on e-commerce

The buying and selling of services over the internet has become ubiquitous. This article provides an update on the efforts of the South African Revenue Service ('SARS') and National Treasury ('Treasury') to bring foreign e-commerce suppliers on to a level tax playing field, by requiring them to register under the Value- Added Tax Act 1991 ('the VAT Act').

In South Africa, it is usually the case that an entity selling goods or services will (i) be charged VAT (normally at a standard rate of 14%) on its inputs by its suppliers, (ii) charge VAT on its outputs to its customers, and (iii) will have to register with SARS in order to claim back the tax paid in step (i) and pay over the tax collected in step (ii).

Transfer pricing audits put the squeeze on in Africa

The African Tax Administration Forum has identified transfer pricing as a critical issue for African tax administrations and has undertaken several initiatives to improve co-operation between the administrations to police the issue. In SA, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has also significantly increased its focus on transfer pricing and regularly undertakes transfer pricing audits with a very capable transfer pricing team.

SARS applies the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Transfer Pricing to determine the appropriate transfer pricing policy for a multinational enterprise operating in SA.

M& A activity in Africa to lead the way: Investor confidence in the continent is at an all-time high

Africa remains an exciting option for investors with its immense opportunities and growth, which continue to inspire confidence and, over time, to help drive global growth. Positivity abounds for mergers and acquisitions (M& A) this year and into the future. The general consensus is that the most active areas for deals will continue to be the energy, mining and utilities sector which, according to Mergermarket's report on Africa and the Middle East, enjoyed seven out of the 10 largest deals, in both value and volume, in 2013.

The consumer sector is next, followed by the media, technology and telecommunications sector, given the increasing need to develop new technological solutions. Much attention has been directed to Africa's consumer sector with its increasingly active expansion.

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