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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Terughoudingsbevoegdhede en oënskynlike spanning met saaklike sekerheidsregte en pandingsregte
Die gemenereg erken verskillende saaklike sekerheidsfigure wat almal dit gemeen het dat daarmee gepoog word om 'n vorderingsreg van 'n vorderingsreghebbende teen sy skuldenaar te versterk. Naas die bekende bedonge saaklike sekerheidsregte waaronder verband- en pandreg en die sogenaamde stilswyende sekerheidsregte waaronder die hipoteek van die verhuurder en die terughoudingsbevoegdheid van die retentor, ken die reg ook die pandingsreg of pignus iudiciale wat van regsweë intree wanneer deur tussenkoms van die hof 'n eksekusieskuldeiser beslag laat lê op 'n bate van sy skuldenaar ten einde die bate per eksekusieveiling te laat verkoop en dan aanspraak te hê om uit die opbrengs van die eksekusieveiling so ver moontlik sy uitstaande vordering teen die eksekusieskuldenaar bevredig te kry. By 'n sameloop van mededingende sekerheidsfigure is van wesenlike belang om die juiste voorrangorde voor oë te hou want by 'n knapheid aan opbrengs sal slegs dié skuldeiser met die sterkste voorrangposisie die beste kans op volle bevrediging van sy uitstaande vordering hê kragtens die beginsel ius est vigilantibus.
Vervolgens word aan die hand van enkele voorbeelde sommige van die lastige spanningsverhoudings wat in die verband opduik, toegelig en gewys op aspekte van onduidelikheid in die toepassing van die geykte beginsels deur sommige van die howe.
Some challenges regarding the competing claims of holders of perceived secured claims as a holder of a lien or holder of a pignus judiciale versus a mortgagee
The legal position is not clear as to the order of preference whenever a claim of a holder of a builder's or salvage lien competes with an anterior claim secured by a mortgage bond that predates the vesting of the claim of the builder secured with his lien. Although many a lawyer accepts that since the D Glaser case the builder's lien should have preference even before the mortgagee's anterior claim is satisfied, because it is perceived that the mortgagee is also benefitting from the preservation of the value of the object of the mortgage bond thanks to the input by the builder, it is submitted that in reality it is very doubtful whether the builder will succeed in fulfilling all the requirements for an enrichment claim against the mortgagee that may provide the substrate for the lien and thus its preferential position.
It is of no consequence or justification for the builder's perceived preference as against the mortgagee to rely on the builder's claim against the mortgagor as owner of the property because the purported justification for the preference, vis-à-vis the mortgagee, must be founded on a provable connection between the builder's claim and the perceived benefit it entailed for the mortgagee. In the absence of any contractual relationship between the mortgagee and the builder, this is not self-evident, and the only alternative would be a claim founded in the broad principles of unjustified enrichment. The underlying ratio would presumably be that it is unjustifiable that the mortgagee should reap sine causa the benefit of the input by the builder in the form of the preservation or enhancement of the value of the object of the bond. It is submitted that in real terms the total estate of the mortgagee will very seldom reflect any enrichment due to the enhancement of the value of the bonded object. If there remains a shortfall after the bonded object has been sold in execution the mortgagee still retains his personal right as concurrent creditor against the rest of the assets of the mortgagor. The mortgagee does not benefit in material terms by the enhancement of the value of the bonded property due to the input by the builder.
Even if the perceived preference for the holder of the lien does exist, his position changes for the worse the moment he exchanges his lien for a pignus judiciale or judicial pledge in order to claim fulfilment of his outstanding claim against his judgment debtor if an anterior claim of a mortgagee competes for fulfilment from the same execution sale. Currently no provision is in place to safeguard the erstwhile preferential position of the holder of a lien as secured creditor the moment he exchanges it for the judicial pledge, notwithstanding the fact that in principle the law encourages subjects to defer from non-judicial remedies and to apply for an order of execution against the defaulter rather than to hold on to an extended reliance on the lien that does not provide the holder of a lien with a title to execution.
It is submitted that this unsatisfactory position can and should be rectified. Not only would such a rectification bring South African law once more in line with the position as it used to be under common law before unfounded interventions by the Cape legislature in the early nineteenth century, but it would also bring the South African legal position in line with the latest modifications in this regard in comparable European jurisdictions.
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