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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Pre-contractual duties of disclosure in the South African common law (part 2)

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Abstract

As discussed in the previous part of this contribution, the dominant view is that pre-contractual duties of disclosure are confined to situations of involuntary-reliance. The major criticism of the involuntary-reliance approach is that it reflects a very narrow view of the duties of prospective contractants towards one another. The explicit premise of such an approach is that a party who is reasonably capable of acquiring the information himself bears the sole responsibility to do so, regardless of any other circumstances. As such, the involuntary-reliance requirement appears to be merely an extension of the materiality requirement, insofar as the latter is aimed at excluding liability for misrepresentation where the misrepresentee was reasonably able to ascertain the true facts, but failed to do so through his own bad judgment, gullibility, lack of foresight or carelessness.


The implicit value judgment in terms of both of these principles is that the individualist value of self-reliance is elevated to an absolute requirement, the corollary being that a party who fails to display appropriate levels of vigilance in protecting his own interests cannot expect either the law or the other party to come to his aid. Such an approach is not surprising given the predominance of classical-liberal individualist ideology in current South African contract law. However, it may be questioned if confining duties of disclosure to situations of involuntary-reliance is in line with the demands of the constitution, which requires courts to infuse the common law of contract with a more communitarian spirit, in terms of which self-reliance must sometimes yield to duties of solidarity and cooperation.


Hierdie bydrae ondersoek die problematiese aspekte van voor-kontraktuele openbaringspligte. Terwyl daar nog onsekerheid bestaan ten opsigte van aspekte van die wesenlikheidsvereiste en die vraag of skuld 'n algemene vereiste vir aanspreeklikheid is, is die belangrikste vraagstuk die oorkoepelende beginsel op grond waarvan openbaringspligte toegedig word. In hierdie verband speel ideologiese waardes 'n bepalende rol. In Deel 1 word die heersende siening, naamlik dat openbaringspligte beperk is tot situasies van noodgedwonge afhanklikheid ("involuntary-reliance") krities ondersoek. Die probleem is dat so 'n benadering 'n sterk individualistiese siening van kontraktuele verhoudings verteenwoordig, wat nie in lyn is met die transformerende vereistes van die grondwet nie. In Deel 2 word alternatiewe basisse van aanspreeklikheid wat wyer as die "noodgedwonge afhanklikheidsraamwerk" strek, soos (1) bedrieglike stilswye, (2) ongelyke bedingingsmag, (3) goeie trou en (4) 'n -benadering teen mekaar opgeweeg.
Alhoewel daar heelwat oorvleueling tussen die verskillende benaderings is, verskil die fokus en relatiewe gewig van relevante beleidsoorwegings by elk. Die rede hiervoor is verskillende onderliggende standpunte oor die vraag waar die balans getref moet word tussen die heersende individualistiese paradigma wat selfbeskerming en eie-belang vooropstel en 'n meer koöperatiewe raamwerk waarbinne partye groter verantwoordelikhede dra om ander te beskerm, selfs ten koste van eie-belang.
'n Benadering wat 'n openbaringsplig op grond van bedrieglike opset toedig, is nog steeds sterk individualisties, insoverre dit slegs die reg se groter afkeur van doelbewuste uitbuiting is wat as teenvoeter kan dien vir die bedroë party se onredelike versuim om self die inligting te bekom. Daarenteen spreek beide die benaderings gegrond op ongelyke bedingingsmag en goeie trou in groter mate van koöperatiewe waardes, maar hulle fokuspunte verskil. Terwyl 'n kriterium van ongelyke bedingingsmag daarop gemik is om sosiale ongelykheid aan te spreek, val die klem by goeie trou op etiese pligte van solidariteit en beskerming. In beginsel is die -benadering die mees buigbare van die alternatiewe, maar dit is juis hierdie buigbaarheid wat dit leen tot manipulasie ten einde individualistiese waardes te bevoorreg ter uitsluiting van 'n meer koöperatiewe aanslag. Daarteenoor het die konstitusionele hof die begrip goeie trou gekoppel aan koöperatiewe waardes in die vorm van . Om hierdie rede word geargumenteer dat die goeie trou-beginsel die mees geskikte wyse is om voor-kontraktuele openbaringspligte met grondwetlike waardes te harmoniseer.

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/content/ju_tsar/2015/3/EJC173609
2015-01-01
2016-12-02
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