Law and Compliance in South Africa

Overview by

Business Contract

General Observation
You must be particularly vigilant about the terms of the contract and the methods of conflict resolution. In fact, South Africa is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on International Contracts.
Law Applicable to the Contract
The South African law of contract is in many respects similar to the English common law. There is no requirement that each party should give a consideration in order to form a binding contract. The basis of the contract in South African law is offer and acceptance.
Advisable Incoterms
Choose FOB or CIF, or more. When importing, avoid EXW if you do not want to be involved in organizing domestic transport in South Africa , as it could be complex at times.
Language of Domestic Contract
English, Afrikaans
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
Consumer legislation could be used to prescribe or limit the provisions of a business contract.

The terms of a contract may be tested against the provisions of the Bill of Rights. Provisions which significantly infringe certain basic human rights may be void.

Return to top

Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Independence of Justice
Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreign nationals can largely expect impartial trial from the country's judicial system.
The Language of Justice
In any of the official language of South Africa.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Services of an interpreter are available in case the language of the proceedings is not understood by the accused.
Legal Similarities
The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law.
South African commercial laws and company laws are similar to the laws of the United Kingdom.

The Different Legal Codes

Constitution of South Africa South African Constitution
South Africa - Companies Act Section 64 (1973), Companies Amendment Act, 2004 and Companies Amendment Act, 2010. South Africa - Companies Act Section 64 (1973); Companies Amendment Act, 2004;
Companies Amendment Act, 2010.
The Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 The Criminal Procedure Act, 1977
The Insolvency Act, 1936 (Act 24 of 1936) The Insolvency Act, 1936 (Act 24 of 1936)
The Consumer Protection Act Consumer Protection Act, 2008
Checking National Laws Online
Acts Online
Legislation South Africa
Other Useful Resources
Judicial Officers Association of South Africa
Constitutional Court of South Africa
Pretoria Bar Association
Country Guides
Doing Business in South Africa

Find Legal Experts in South Africa on

The Jurisdictions

Constitutional Court Has the final say on all matters relating to the Constitution of South Africa. Its decisions on the constitution are binding on all other courts. Visit: the Constitutional Court.
Supreme Court of appeal Has the final say on all matters, except those that involve the constitution. It only hears cases on appeal and its decisions are binding on all courts of a lower order.
High Courts of South Africa They have jurisdiction over all matters in their geographical area, but usually only hear civil matters involving more than R100 000, and serious criminal cases.
Circuit Courts Part of the High Court, they move around to serve more rural areas.
Special Income Tax Courts Deals with any disputes between a taxpayer and the South African Revenue Service, where the dispute involves an income tax assessment of more than R100,000.
Labour Courts and Labour Appeal Courts They have jurisdiction over labour matters and are on the same level as the High Court.
Divorce Courts There are three such courts, the Central, North Eastern and Southern Divorce Courts, and they hear divorce matters.
Land Claims Court It was established in 1996 and hears cases dealing with the return of land taken away during apartheid (land reform cases).
Magistrates' Courts These are the lower courts which deal with most matters. They are divided into regional courts and district courts.They do not have jurisdiction to deal with civil matters dealing with more than R100,000. For more details, visit: Courts in South Africa

Court Officials

High Court judges are mainly drawn from the ranks of senior advocates (barristers), attorneys (solicitors) and academics.
Find more on about Legal and Compliance Issues in South Africa.

Any Comments About This Content? Report It to Us.

Read more See less
Experts Views (2)
Hot Tips (1) Go Top
Post your content


Post content about Law and Compliance in South Africa and you will be listed here to receive requests for offers.

Contact our expert contributors