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n Transactions of the Centre for Business Law - South African common law requirements for a valid contract. Chapter 4

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Abstract

Prior to the enactment of the in July 2002, the position in South African law regarding contracts concluded via electronic means was very uncertain. In the absence of applicable legislative guidance, South Africa relied almost exclusively on the flexibility of its Roman Dutch Common Law principles to accommodate the new challenges created by technological advances. While the Common Law succeeded commendably in being able to address the majority of issues raised by the new technology, it became increasingly clear that some of the questions fell beyond the scope of principles designed long before the idea of a computer was ever contemplated.


In July 2002, the came into operation.
The thesis begins by examining the Common Law requirements for the conclusion of a legally valid and binding contract and investigates the provisions of the Act in order to shed light on the requirements of "writing" and "signature" in relation to online agreements.
Questions regarding the contractual capacity of parties in relation to electronically concluded contracts are investigated with specific reference to the position in the event of a minor or other person with limited capacity entering into an electronic agreement.
The requirement of consensus enjoys detailed attention. The different types of online agreements, including click-wrap and browse-wrap agreements are examined to ascertain the circumstances under which effective acceptance of an offer will have occurred. The position regarding the acceptance of unread terms is also considered as well as the validity of agreeing to terms referred to by means of a hyperlink, but not displayed.
The various theories relating to when and where a contract is concluded are also examined with a view to determining the correct theory applicable to electronic contracts.
Once the requirements for a valid and binding electronic contract have been determined, the consequences thereof are discussed. The rights and duties afforded by and placed upon parties in accordance with the Act are investigated, with particular reference to the rights of consumers in commercial transactions.
The enforcement of rights flowing from agreements concluded via electronic means is examined and some of the potential pitfalls facing litigants, ranging from the viability of litigation to high legal costs, are discussed. In particular, the problem of conflicting legal systems in relation to international agreements is addressed and the methods by which the appropriate system can be identified, are investigated.
The question of attribution is examined in addition to the various presumptions applicable in terms of international law as well as the Act, so as to determine upon whom the responsibility for electronically performed acts should be visited.
The limitations of the are discussed and particular attention is paid to certain types of transactions and agreements that are prohibited from being concluded in terms of the Act and its Schedules.
In conclusion, a brief overview of the influence of the Internet on other branches of the South African law is included as a reminder of the vast and wide-ranging influence that recent technological advances have had on our society.

Voor die promulgasie van die , was die posisie in Suid-Afrika ten opsigte van elektroniese kontrakte baie onseker. In die afwesigheid van regulerende wetgewing het Suid-Afrika amper uitsluitlik staatgemaak op die buigsaamheid van die Romeins-Hollandse gemeenregtelike beginsels om die nuwe uitdagings as gevolg van tegnologiese vooruitgang te akkommodeer.Terwyl die gemenereg daarin geslaag het om die meerderheid van aspekte in terme van die nuwe tegnologie te addresseer, het dit geblyk dat sommige van die vrae buite die beperkings van beginsels wat ontwerp is lank voordat rekenaars 'n werklikheid was, geval het.


In Julie 2002 het die nuwe Wet in werking getree. Hierdie verhandeling begin deur die gemeenregtelike vereistes vir die sluit van 'n regsgeldige en bindende kontrak te ondersoek, asook die bepalings van die Wet, om die invloed daarvan op die regsvereistes van "skrif" en "handtekening" ten opsigte van Internet kontrakte te bepaal.
Vrae ten opsigte van die handelingsbevoegdheid van partye wat kontrakte elektronies aangaan, word ondersoek, met spesifieke verwysing na die posisie van gevalle waar minderjariges en ander persone met beperkte handelingsbevoegdheid elektroniese kontrakte sluit.
Die vereiste van wilsooreenstemming geniet ook gedetailleerde aandag. Die verskillende tipes Internet ooreenkomste, insluitende "click-wrap" en "browse-wrap" kontrakte, word ondersoek om te bepaal onder welke omstandighede aanvaarding van 'n aanbod sal geskied. Die posisie met betrekking tot die aanvaarding van ongelese kontraktuele bepalings word ook ondersoek, asook terme waarna slegs verwys word deur middel van 'n "hyperlink". Die verskeie teorieë ten opsigte van die plek en tyd van kontraksluiting word ook ondersoek sodat die korrekte teorie ten opsigte van elektroniese kontrakte bepaal kan word.
Nadat die vereistes vir 'n geldige en bindende Internet kontrak bepaal is, word die regsgevolge daarvan bespreek. Die regte en verpligtinge van die partye in terme van die Wet word ondersoek, met spesifieke verwysing na die regte van verbruikers in kommersiële transaksies.
Die afdwinging van regte in terme van Internet kontrakte word ondersoek en sommige van die potensiële probleme wat litigante mag raak word bespreek. Die kwessie rondom botsende regstelsels in terme van internasionale ooreenkomste word behandel en die metodes om die toepaslike stelsel te identifiseer word bespreek. Daar word ondersoek welke vermoedes in terme van die internasionale reg, sowel as die Wet, van toepassing is om te bepaal wie verantwoordelikheid moet aanvaar vir elektronies uitgevoerde handelinge.
Die beperkings van die word bespreek met spesifieke verwysing na tipe handelinge wat ingevolge die Wet en die Skedules verbied word. Ten slotte word 'n kort oorsig van die invloed van die Internet op ander takke van die Suid-Afrikaanse reg oorweeg om te dien as 'n herinnering aan die wye invloed van moderne tegnologiese verwikkelinge op die samelewing.

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/content/medsor/2005/37/EJC74032
2005-01-01
2016-12-02
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