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<< January 2007  | February 2007 |  March 2007 >>
Deadline for RAF regulations passes

The JAA submitted a substantial comment on the Road Accident Fund regulations to the Department.  Whether they will read them is anyone's guess - but one somehow doubts it.

Gossip commonly puts implementation date at 1 May 2008 but if an attempt is made to implement the current regulations they are likely to be met with an interdict from a range of bodies.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Sunday 04-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
1 April may be the date for RAF regulations
The Road Accident Fund placed an advert in the Sunday Times this weekend calling for tenders on communicating the content of the new Act to the public.  Would be service providers have to be ready to communicate the information on 1 April - which is clearly the best indication we have thus far for an implementation date.  Clearly the comments must must have all been read very quickly considering the deadline for submission was only Wednesday last week!
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 05-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
17 days

It took about 5 years since I was first nominated to the Law Society of South Africa's MVA committee, for me to be placed on the committee. 

In the almost one year I have been on the committee we have had one tele-conference, two meetings and many lectures on "protocol."  17 days ago, and one would imagine it should have happened months ago, we finally decided to brief someone on the RAF regulations.  A vote took place and it was decided the brief would would go to Advocate Kemp.  So, thats progress.  Or it will be, once the brief goes off.  Sadly, its only on an opinion - after all this time the profession cannot even decide to firmly oppose the Act or regulations, we are going to get an opinion first - something the Johannesburg Attorneys Association managed to do SIX months ago.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 08-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
In an age of the Internet, I just looked at my sent mails box - and thats on my office computer - I have one at home where I also send a lot of mail - and, in the last 7 days, I have sent 500, yes that's five hundred in words, e-mails out!  2 of them were weekend days, so remove them and its basically 100 a working day.  So, maybe e-mail is just a form of instant torture!
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 14-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Serious injury

The latest news is the Department of Transport asked the Law Society of South Africa to help it define, on 12 days notice what a serious injury is. So clearly a bit of a struggle there. Very few others were asked to comment - and certainly not the JAA which put in a substantial and carefully thought out contribution.  As usual, it seems there is a lack of proper consultation.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 21-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Budget 2007 - Trevor Manuel's latest

The latest Budget is out and less surprises now each year - but still one in the form of social security deductions from employee's salaries.  Not sure they will all like that although so many make pathetic plans for retirment and need some sort of help!

Another 5 cents to the beleagured Road Accident Fund, from 4 April 2007, is also important - especially with its own legal costs increasing rapidly due to its seeming inability to settle any claims reasonably and in house.  It seems they defend everything, no matter what the merits, until the last minute when all are entitled to fees.  Pity it can't be done cost effectively.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 21-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Defamation and the Internet

Blogs and the internet are a great way to communicate.  More and more news gets out - and unfortunately a lot of rubbish to!  Those that usually write the stories usually claim to do so in the spirit of "freedom of speech" but they, and the website owners who usually react in horror when they discover they cannot disclaim responsibility for postings of others on their websites, are actually often engaged in "freedom to defame and lie".  Fortunately, as us attorneys well know, the law does not work that way.

I recently did a case for a young professional lady defamed by anonymous posters on a South African website which resulted in not only the removal of the posting, but more importantly in a payment from the owner of the site, who did not in fact post the comments, but nevertheless published them via his site. 

I have no doubt this will be a growing field and for attorneys who litigate, as I do, they will come across more and more cases.  In fact, I am busy on a few more cases at the moment - and hopefully some will be in the R100 000 plus domain of the High Court as we need some more reported judgments.  Attorneys who are also involved in such cases, or become aware of any such judgments in the future, are welcome to e-mail them to me for publication on this blog and in my usual columns and e-mail lists.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Saturday 24-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Website owners and defamation

While my blog is aimed at attorneys, the topics one covers sometimes bring surprise reactions.  My blog about defamation and the internet yesterday led to an e-mail today from a gentleman who was surprised to hear that he could be held liable for comments published on his website.

"But", he wrote, "surely that does not apply if I have a disclaimer on my site?"  I wonder what it is about the Internet that changes people so, that they think just because they write they are not responsible for what others say on their site and eclude legal liability etc, that they can just go ahead and allow defamatory comments to be published about people?  Why do they think that a newspaper could escape liability if it printed a letter that defamed somebody?

The principles are the same.  Obviously one has a right to freedom of expression, but a person also has a right to a reputation or a good name.  Violate somebody's rights and you can expect to be sued - and it won't be a defence that you "disclaimed" responsibility for the comments of others you allowed to be published on your site - and then to stay published on your site.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Sunday 25-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Take down

As night follows day, each posting on Internet defamation sees another question directed my way.  I better stop answering them soon as this is not a legal advice blog but I find a number of attorneys also have not really had time to read the Electronic Communications Act. 

The Act does provide a rather dramatic remedy, appropriately named a Take Down notice that essentially allows one to notify an ISP that a site they are hosting infringes ones rights.  Until then, in most instance the ISP bears no liability whereas the site owner will for infringement of rights of others.  Once notified the ISP then can then also be liable if it fails to act.  In fact, the law even guides it saying in Section 77(3) of the Act that the ISP cannot be held accountable for damages in the event it takes the whole site down.  So the Act is pretty powerful - and correct notices in an appropriate situation leaves any thinking ISP with a simple choice - keep the offending site up and face possible consequences once one has been notified, or remove in its entirety and face no damages claims at all from the owner of the site.  Its pretty clear which way one must advise the ISP to go - and on a reading of this section not much advice would be needed!

So, thats a powerful weapon in your arsenal - to be followed up with a Civil action of course.  Take down.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 26-Feb-07   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments

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