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<< January 2009  | February 2009 |  March 2009 >>
The times are changing fast - in 3D

No sooner did I start writing about high definition television, when I came across a press release in America indicating that one of their major basketball games, the NBA All Stars game, to be played on 14 February 2009, will now, for the first time ever be shown in cinemas.  It is going to be live and I am sure that sounds exciting, and is also going to be in high definition.  What is truly unique though is it will be in 3D high definition and so it just shows you how quickly things are changing, and that is certainly a way to get people back to the cinemas.  Everybody knows that a lot of 3D movies are going to be released over the next 2 years or so, and right now you can go to Bolt, on our local circuit which is showing in 3D at some cinemas if you want to get an example of how far 3D has already gone.  I was quite impressed with it, but I had no idea that they already had the capacity to film sport events, and transmit them live in 3D.  3D HD.  Don't worry, you just have to watch, not follow the terms!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 10-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
The sun

One of the things that a lot of people seem to overlook, and largely only in this country, given that Australians for example seem to have wised up to the dangers of the sun, is the risk of skin cancer that we are exposed to in this country.    It amazes me that so many people with pale skins seem to think that it is particularly macho to not only venture out without a hat or cap, but to do so without suntan lotion as well – and for 5 hours at a time on a golf course! The latest edition of Golf Digest has a letter from a man in Fourways who said he started to use sunblock too late and his letter made very graphic reading, to quote from it: “I had paid the price. I’ve had at least 10 skin operations, 6 to my face alone. Some had been inside my ears. … I have consulted a specialist face surgeon who has moved patches of skin from parts of my head into the holes he had to cut to remove the cancer, and the resultant scars are nearly invisible. I would like to convey the message I have learned the hard way to every golfer. The sun is DANGEROUS”. 

I hope that some of those who read by blog, and they know who this relates to, will read this and perhaps learn the lesson before they too get fried. 
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 02-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Johannesburg - an ever changing city

It is no wonder that there are so many Zimbabweans in South Africa, particularly around Johannesburg.  I see that a new report has indicated that, amongst all its other problems, the unemployment rate has just hit 94%.  In other words, only 6% of the population is formally employed, down from 30% in 2003.  It is one of the trends that I have noticed in terms of the work I do, that Johannesburg in particular is becoming a very cosmopolitan city with people from various African countries resident here and whether it is in the sauna, at gym, or at the shops, or playing golf, you will frequently find yourself in conversation with somebody who is either from the Congo, Nigeria or the like. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Saturday 07-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Education and entering legal profession

It is that time of the year, if not already a little bit late, when people start searching for jobs and I guess for those who have not decided yet, for educational courses. It is interesting to see the rising search terms which include UNISA, Wits, JobMail, Damelin and Intec. Obviously, some of them, especially Damelin and Intec, have done wonderful marketing jobs over the years and are now huge names in educational circles. I wonder if all of those who are going to choose law will appreciate the impact upon the legal profession of the changes with the Road Accident Fund Act as well as the housing market crisis and subsequent drop in conveyancing work. These two huge fields have often formed the basis of many a practice, including many a firm that may now be much bigger in the corporate world.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 05-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Browser wars

I see that the Internet browsing ball is hotting up again shortly after Google released its new browser, Chrome, Microsoft has now released the 8th version of Microsoft Explorer. I had downloaded a Beta version and found that it had a few bugs and was surprised to see that the latest version is now part of an automatic download that your computer would have downloaded round about now and you would probably be using the 8th version as we speak. I am surprised, because I felt that it still had some problems and I certainly have had certain problems using it on a banking site, for example, where it now makes it difficult to see a long list of beneficiaries. From my point of view, although I really think I would be swopping browsers at the moment, I prefer Google’s Chrome, which loads up faster, and appears to crash much less. Certainly, on the problem that I have on Explorer with my banking site, I don’t have the same problem with Chrome, but no doubt that is going to lead to more developments on both sides and Microsoft will of course come with their upgraded version, all of which is free when it comes to browsers in a few weeks time.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 17-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Adjusted loss of income - RAF cases

The Road Accident Fund recently published a notice in the Government Gazette increasing, in terms of CPI inflation, the maximum claim for loss of income and loss of support from R160 000,00 to R167 071,00 per year. The maximum amount will increase on a quarterly basis in line with inflation, which will certainly make calculations more difficult for actuaries and keep attorneys on their toes!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 09-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Theft

We have all heard of that old New York approach of absolute intolerance to theft and crime. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where there is so much serious crime, but we don’t ever focus on the small crime. Since my offices’ opening, for example, I’ve had plants stolen from outside my offices twice. Rest assured, I won’t be replacing the cycads again! It is unfortunate that one has to suffer petty crime like that, and quite often that type of crime is actually from more of the middle class neighbour type than it would be of a criminal who hardly makes off with cycads in the middle of the night! Of course, those responsible, don’t think they are really doing something terribly wrong, but it is theft nonetheless, and a financial loss to the person who has to pay to replace the plants, or should we all just leave our pavements overgrown, muddy and ugly?

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Sunday 15-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Budget speech

 Today, 11 February 2009 is annual Budget day and our Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, announced a 40,5 cents per litre increase in petrol of which 23 cents as usual goes to the Government and a lesser, but substantial contribution of 17,5 cents goes to the Road Accident Fund.  So the levy increases from 46,5 cents to 64 cents per litre with Manuel describing the RAF as "remains in a precarious financial position, with a significant actuarial liability and about 297 000 cases still unprocessed."

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 11-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
LSSA statement on Pikoli

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) urges the Parliamentary ad hoc joint committee dealing with the Pikoli matter to consider the Ginwala Commission’s findings seriously in its discussions today as regards the fate of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Vusi Pikoli. ‘This committee – and later Parliament – must take this opportunity to exercise its oversight role and assert the separation of powers as between the Executive and the Legislature. It must provide cogent reasons should it decide to support the President’s recommended dismissal of the NDPP, when, in fact, the Ginwala Commission found him fit to hold office,’ say LSSA Co-Chairpersons Max Boqwana and CP Fourie.

 
Previously, the LSSA indicated that the President’s decision had raised the question whether, in future, a President can,
·      on his own and without the application of the facts, dismiss the head of the prosecutorial services; and
·      be guided by political considerations in appointing an NDPP, rather than by the internationally acceptable principles of independence and the discharging of prosecutorial responsibilities without fear, favour or prejudice.
 
‘These questions will again arise if the parliamentary ad hoc committee endorses the President’s recommendation to dismiss Mr Pikoli without a rational explanation,’ say Mr Boqwana and Mr Fourie. In this regard, the LSSA welcomes the views expressed by the President last week that the process of appointing the NDPP could possibly best be dealt with by an independent body, such as the procedure adopted by the Judicial Service Commission in appointing judges.
 
Also, Mr Pikoli has indicated that he may challenge the committee and ultimately Parliament’s decision, should it resolve to dismiss him, in court. ‘The committee must seriously consider the far-reaching ramifications of a court finding in favour of Mr Pikoli and against Parliament in such a matter,’ says the LSSA. ‘It would also mean that the prosecuting authority should continue without a National Director of Public Prosecutions in place for some time until the matter is pronounced on by the courts.’
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 12-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Judgments

The Pretoria judgment saying that it was unconstitutional for those living overseas not to be able to have a vote is something that I certainly welcome. I hope that this judgment stands the test of the Constitutional Court - logically one thinks that it should and one can only imagine that the decision to exclude such voters has always been political. I cannot, for the life of me, see why just because somebody is overseas on a two-year working permit, they cannot have the right to vote in their own country and I certainly do hope that if this judgment stands the test, that we see long cues in places like London.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 13-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
UK Visas

The recent announcement that Visas will be required, at R985,00 a time to visit London in future is no surprise with allegedly 6 000 people illegally gaining access to the UK via South Africa last year. I don’t think however that much thought has been given to the changes at the end of November 2008, with regard to the two year working period in the UK, and as I understand it, the door has essentially been shut on the vast majority of people in that regard. That largely affects young people, and I would guess mainly young white people. It would be interesting to see if a new favourite destination suddenly comes about, or if that means quite simply a lot of people won’t have that opportunity anymore – not that I ever had! I have a feeling that it is going to have a positive affect on South Africa, but we will have to see how things pan out, but approximately 1 million people have left South Africa to live in England, and I am quite sure that we have lost many of them through the two year working period. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 16-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
The Star article

The Star newspaper ran a good article on the Road Accident Fund increase, effective 1 April 2009, written by Louise Flanagan.  Not just because it quoted me, but in a short matter of time they managed to get quite a few diverse opinions!  The article can be read here.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Saturday 14-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Telkom PGA

The Telkom PGA at my golf club, Country Club Johannesburg, was won today by Jaco van Zyl.  I think golf tends to have more immediate ups and downs than life and law - and perhaps that is why so many members of the legal profession play it.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Sunday 22-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Court dates

In this ever changing situation between the different courts, the Johannesburg High Court is now giving more dates to RAF matters, and you can get dates as soon as October this year. It is quite strange, in one batch of documents to get back dates for late 2010, and in the next, to get a matter for September this year, but that is how it is, and we should be grateful! Although we have heard lots about the earlier trial dates from Pretoria, we certainly do not have any experience of that and I have not spoken to anybody who has had any of these dates, which were going to be shifted forward as yet.    In fact, if anything, we probably get more complaints about the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court at the moment and with the way things are going with the Johannesburg High Court, you may well get some of your dates faster there!   There appear to be all sorts of rules as to staff members not being able to apply for more than a certain number on a day, and you cannot apply on that day for a matter on the next allocated day if you have reached your maximum, or the court has reached its maximum, etc. We are informed, all of the time, of various meetings that are about to take place, but there have not been any positive results in this regard. This thus far, and it is probably best, at a time like this, to keep up to date via the blog of Leigh De Souza. Leigh is very involved in Magistrate’s Court matters and sits on the Magistrate’s Court committee for the Johannesburg Attorneys Association and from that point of view you should have more up to date information.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 24-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  Comments
Challenge press release - Road Accident Fund

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) today issued court papers to be served on the Minister of Transport and the Road Accident Fund (RAF), challenging the constitutionality and legality of the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act 19 or 2005 and some of its regulations, which came into effect in August 2008.

Every year between 166 000 and 267 000 claims are lodged with the RAF in which victims or their dependants – often widows and orphans – seek compensation for loss as a result of injury or deaths caused by road accidents. ‘The amendments to the compensation system which came into effect in August last year severely curtail the rights of many thousands of accident victims and their dependants in the case of death,’ says Jacqui Sohn, the chairperson of the LSSA’s RAF Committee. She adds: ‘This is made worse by the fact that, for the first time in our legal history, victims can no longer claim compensation for damages not covered by the Act, from the wrongdoers who cause their injury.’
 
The LSSA contends that the Amendment Act promulgated by the Minister will have the effect of
·         denying the many badly injuredroad accident victims of compensation from the RAF; and
·         entitling those who are able to claim to less compensation and lower levels of medical and hospital treatment than under the previous Act; while at the same time depriving them of their fundamentalcommon-law rights to claim compensation for substantial damages now no longer covered by the Act from the wrongdoer.
 
The Amendment Act abolishes victims’ common-law rights while at the same time reducing their compensation. This unreasonably and irrationally deprives victims of their right to obtain effective relief and violates section 38 of the Constitution. ‘The LSSA has submitted in its founding papers that it is inexplicable and unjustifiable that, at the very time that the legislature has substantially reduced (and in some instances entirely removed) the right to statutory compensation, it has also deprived injured parties of the right which they have always had to seek compensation from the wrongdoer for any damages not covered by the Act,’ explains Ms Sohn.
 
According to the LSSA, it is unconstitutional for the Amendment Act to remove a road accident victim’s common-law right to claim for fair compensation from the wrongdoer; and, at the same time
 
·      to provide that only persons who suffer ‘serious’ injuries are entitled to claim general damages from the RAF;
·      by definition (of ‘serious’ injury) exclude many claimants who may, in fact, have suffered severely debilitating injures from qualifying in terms of the definition and thus the right to claim from the RAF any compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of the amenities of life;
·      capping a claimant’s claim against the RAF for past and future loss of income or support to R160 000 per year;
·      restricting compensation for emergency treatment to a reduced tariff which will be insufficient reasonably to ensure that accident victims will obtain emergency medical care where they need it; and
·      limiting claims for past and future hospital and medical care to provincial hospital tariffs.
 
 ‘This breaches road accident victims’ right to security of their person, the right to an appropriate and effective remedy for breaches of that right, as well as the obligation of the State to respect, protect, promote and fulfill those rights. The LSSA submits that this is a violation of section 38 of the Constitution. No justification has been given for the deprivation or limitation of these rights and this is accordingly not justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom,’ says Ms Sohn.
 
Also, the LSSA points out that a number of the RAF regulations are inconsistent with the RAF Act and also deprive accident victims of their rights:
 
·      The Minister has purported to define what a ‘serious injury’ is in the regulations, when he is not authorised to do so by the RAF Act. In fact, the definition of ‘serious injury’ is not a reasonable definition as it excludes many serious injuries. This deprives many victims of compensation.
·      The method of assessment of a ‘serious injury’ prescribed in the regulations does not comply with the Act because it does not ensure that the assessment takes into account the circumstances of the victim.
·      The system prescribed for lodging claims cannot reasonably be implemented under the current circumstances in South Africa. For example, the medical assessment in terms of the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides prescribed by the RAF is highly complex and costly. Only 45 medical practitioners attended the course last year to assess serious injuries in terms of the AMA Guides and the assessment can cost between R6 000 and R20 000.
·      The regulations create an administrative tribunal to which victims who are dissatisfied with the compensation from the RAF can appeal. This tribunal’s decisions are ‘final and binding’. However, the tribunal is not impartial or independent from the RAF. This deprives victims of the right to have their dispute settled by a court of law and to a fair trial in terms of s 34 of the Constitution.
·       The tariff for emergency medical care and the state hospital tariff for other hospital and medical treatment decided by the Minister deprives poor victims of the proper access to healthcare that they enjoyed under the previous Act. They will be able to receive treatment only at State hospitals where treatment is either not available, or of an unacceptably low standard.
 
The LSSA is joined in the matter by the South African Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Quadpara Association of South Africa and the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities.
 
In terms of its constitution, the LSSA strives towards the achievement of a system of law that is fair, equitable, certain and free from unfair discrimination. For this reason, among others, the LSSA brings the matter in the Pretoria High Court on behalf of the tens of thousands of road accident victims whose rights to obtain damages from the RAF have been severely prejudiced by the RAF Amendment Act. ‘Many of these victims cannot themselves challenge the rights removed by the amendment Act because they are too badly disabled, live in remote areas or are disadvantaged by poverty,’ says Ms Sohn.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 27-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Sowetan article

I see one of my cases was picked up by a Court reporter for the Sowetan and covered in a recent article dealing with a Road Accident Fund claim where the parents of a young boy were awarded a little over R3 million.  The report can be read on the Sowetan site.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 26-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments
Tiger Woods is back

Its great to see, after an absence of over 8 months the sportperson that I am convinced will go down as the very best of our generation, and probably this century, has returned to golf.  Tiger Woods is back and all of a sudden golf becomes even more exciting to watch.  I can't say all people find it stimulating to watch - and I do tend to fall asleep late at night watching it, but not when Tiger is playing.  I don't think non-golfers fully appreciate the mental power of the man, the athleticism he has brought to golf and how important he really is in the sports world.  He would certainly top the list of people I would like to meet.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 26-Feb-09   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  Comments

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