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The law is ever-changing. South African law has its roots in Roman law. On its own, this system of law evolved over centuries. At some point it acquired a Dutch influence and a new system of law, called Roman Dutch law, came into existence. This later reached the shores of South Africa.
You may be aware that at different points in history, parts of the territory of modern day South Africa were colonized by different European countries. The Dutch had their time and share, and so did the British, before the Union of South Africa came into existence following on the cessation of hostilities in the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the last century. These developments brought us the laws of the colonisers. Hence our civil law by and large owes its origins to English law.
However, with the dawn of the new constitutional order in South Africa, one can safely speak of a new legal regime, founded on the principles underlying the Constitution. This new regime is a potpourri of the inherited Roman Dutch law and English law, fused with customary and international law. It is South African law.
Enough about the genesis and history of our law.
The point is that law is not constant. It is dynamic and changes almost daily. There are nine provincial parliaments with law-making authority within their sphere; a national parliament that passes various statutes on a host of issues; provincial divisions of the high court; the supreme court of appeal and the apex court in the land, the constitutional court. There are specialized courts such as the land claims court and the labour court. All these courts have rules, practice manuals and directives for the conduct of proceedings before them. They interpret and develop the law all the time. It is small wonder that there are many cases in which the law that we meet in practice as legal practitioners has relatively little resemblance to the law as we studied it at universities.
In short, law as a topic is a labyrinth. It is a field where any step one takes could lead to an explosion with dire consequences. A legal principle is adapted and changed and developed. A non-lawyer, or even a lawyer who does not stay abreast with legal developments, will find themselves colliding with the law if they do not have a good lawyer on their side.
We at AM VILAKAZI TAU ATTORNEYS, realizing the difficulty of navigating this uncertain and often unforgiving field, have decided to contribute towards clarifying legal issues. We will do this by way of web blogging on interesting legal topics. Our blogs will be published every second week, on Mondays, commencing on the 9th July 2018. You can expect to hear titbits of information on marriage, divorce, contracting, road accident fund claims, medical negligence, wrongful arrest, police brutality, government procurement, municipal law, labour law, employee rights, Wills and estate administration and so forth. We do this in an attempt to demystify the law for you, our valued clients and potential clients.
Please note that our blogs will not constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice on a specific topic or specific facts, you are free to contact our office for a consultation.
We look forward to fulfilling engagements. Enjoy!