n South African Law Journal - Should the doctrines of the 'undisclosed principal' or 'piercing the corporate veil' determine the locus standi of a party to sue in terms of a contract? The conundrum of : notes

Volume 127, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The doctrine of the undisclosed principal and the doctrine of piercing of the corporate veil have much in common. Both are imports of the English common law and have since become entrenched in South African law, notwithstanding the absence of a clear conceptual understanding of either doctrine in terms of general legal principle (for the doctrine of the undisclosed principal see for instance 1972 (1) SA 761 (A) and 1982 (2) SA 282 (T); for the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil see 1995 (4) SA 790 (A) and 2001 (4) SA 1336 (SCA)). It stands to reason therefore that the interplay between the two doctrines would be elusive. The recent case of underscores this point because, whilst the outcome of the case intuitively seems equitable and correct, it is not entirely clear whether the decision is based on the doctrine of the undisclosed principal, or the doctrine of veil piercing, or neither ( [2007] SCA 73 (RSA) is an unreported judgment of case number 447/06, delivered by the Supreme Court of Appeal on 31 May 2007).

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