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Business Landscape

Significant Legal Changes Affecting Your Business

The effects of the Memorandum of Association (MOI) on third parties.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

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South African Business Law

Do you manage a business? If so, it’s important that you understand the very significant changes triggered by the Companies Act 71 of 2008.

Under the Companies Act 61 of 1973 (the ‘Old Act’), every company had to register its Memorandum of Association and its Articles of Association. While the previous Act imposed various requirements on the form and content of the memorandum, it did not govern the content of the articles.

In terms of the 1973 Act, it was legal to alter the memorandum and articles independently of one another through a shareholders’ special resolution. Additionally, the memorandum and articles were binding between the members (shareholders) of the company and the company itself.

Now, however, the rules have changed quite drastically. Under the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (the “new Act”), the MOI is a legally binding document between shareholders themselves, between the company and shareholders, and between the company and third parties.

Now, existing companies that registered under the old Act must align their existing articles and memorandi with the provisions of the new Act. Furthermore, the new Act has set a window period within which this is to be done. The window period closes at the end of April 2013.

This means it’s important for companies to consult their attorneys sooner rather than later to assess the impact these changes may have on their financial year-end and to reconsider their strategies.

The legal nature of the Memorandum of Incorporation

A Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) is defined in the new Act as an instrument: ‘that sets out rights, duties and responsibilities of shareholders, directors and others within and in relation to the company, and other matters as contemplated in section 15; and by which:

  1. The company was incorporated in terms of this Act, as contemplated in section 13; or
  2. A pre-existing company was structured and governed before the later of:

aa) the effective date; or

bb) the date it was converted to a company in terms of schedule 2’.

Accordingly, the MOI now combines the Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association in one legal document and broadens its purpose. Currently, the articles and memorandum of companies registered before the new Act was introduced will automatically form its MOI. However, these companies should ensure that their existing articles and memorandum conform to the provisions of the new Act.

Your company MOI and third parties

Under the old Act

A fundamental principle of the common law has always been that a company representative (or agent) must have the necessary authority to bind the company to a contract as the principal. This was enshrined in common law and the principles relating to the law of agency, which specifically evolved in the company law context.

Broadly speaking, a number of well-known company law doctrines or common law principles, such as the doctrine of disclosure, meant that prescribed information was continuously made public to inform interested parties about the true state of affairs within a company.

Because this information was made public, the doctrine of constructive notice assumed that everyone dealing with a company had knowledge of who had authority to bind the company. There was an assumption that anyone dealing with the company had read these documents.

Further, any acts outside the scope of the company’s business (known as ultra vires acts) were not permitted in terms of the common law either. The company’s business − or rather, the scope of its business − was defined in the company’s memorandum (sections 33 and 34 of the old Act).

This meant that third parties dealing with the company could be denied contractual rights because the contract was null and void from the start. In other words: it never came into existence.

The practical realities of conducting business meant that agents with invalid authority often entered into contracts on behalf of their company without the company itself necessarily objecting. The law was consequently adapted to match this reality.

Section 36 of the old Act altered the common law position by validating a company’s actions even if they were outside the company’s scope or entered into by directors acting without proper authority.

No dependence on this lack of capacity on behalf of the company or lack of authority on behalf of the director may have been relied on in any legal proceedings. The company rules were applicable only between the members/company and its directors.

Third parties could not rely on them. This represented a significant departure from the common law position.

Finally, the Turquand rule was imported into our law from England. This rule stated that a third party could presume that all internal company formalities specific to that company were complied with when granting an agent the necessary authority.

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Under the new Act

The common law will continue to apply − provided it does not conflict with the new Act. Disclosure is now regulated in terms of section 75 of the new Act (conflicts of interest). In addition, companies are obliged to disclose special or more restrictive provisions contained in their MOI by affixing the suffix ‘RF’ to the company name under section 19 of the new Act.

Furthermore, according to Section 19 of the new Act, a company now has ‘all of the legal powers and capacity of an individual, except to the extent that (i) a juristic person is incapable of exercising any such power, or having any such capacity; or (ii) the company’s Memorandum of Incorporation provides otherwise’.

In addition, Section 20 of the new Act has extended the rights of third parties against both the company and those purporting to represent the company because a contract cannot be declared void by the company under the common law. Accordingly, the doctrine of ultra vires seems totally redundant both in common law and as enshrined in Section 36 of the old Act.

On the other hand, the Turquand rule has not been totally removed from our law. Section 20(7) now states that a third party dealing with a company may still presume that all the internal formalities have been complied with − provided it was not within that person’s reasonable knowledge that this was not the case.

Conclusion

Because companies now have wider powers and greater capacity to act than before, it is of the paramount importance that third parties observe the contents of the company’s MOI and related documents, and seek advice about possible consequences when authority does not exist. In addition, third parties should also conduct a due diligence investigation.

Nicolene Schoeman – Louw is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, as well as being a Conveyancer, Notary Public and Mediator. She is the Managing Director of Schoemanlaw Inc Attorneys, Conveyancers and Notaries Public (Schoemanlaw Inc Attorneys) in Cape Town. Visit www.schoemanlaw.co.za for more information or email enquiries@schoemanlaw.co.za

Business Landscape

4 Tips To Create A Great Conference / Workshop / Event In 2019

Being able to host a great workshop or event is an essential skill for anyone in creative and innovative businesses. Your event will have a major impact – that is guaranteed. However, whether it is a positive or negative impact depends on the how well the event was put together and executed.

Revel Africa

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Your business is fantastic. You work with amazing people, and your industry is dynamic and evolving. There are so many exciting ways available to you to share your good stories: social media, podcasts, videos, live streaming, emails. But the trend we’re seeing of more workshops and conferences is the most exciting, and effective. Why? Because people still do business with people, and face-to-face still has more impact than anything digital.

Being able to host a great workshop or event is an essential skill for anyone in creative and innovative businesses. Your event will have a major impact – that is guaranteed. However, whether it is a positive or negative impact depends on the how well the event was put together and executed.

Here are 4 top tips to create and host amazing events this year

1. Purpose

Identify the purpose of the event. Is it to train clients or future clients on the latest trends in your industry in a bid to position yourself as the subject matter expert? Is it to bring a large multi-campus business together into one space to unite them and refocus and energise them? Is it to bring creative minds together to solve a problem? Answer these questions and you will know if you need a small, vibrant workshop, a large, slick event, or a creative team-building conference.

Plus, having a really clear understanding of why you’re doing this event is the best way to deal with the stress of putting it all together. Anchor yourself to the core reason behind the event, and it will not only propel you forward through the process, but will also make a lot of the decisions easier to make as you go.

2. Prepare

If you are going to host an event, then embrace the reality of late nights, money stress, volatile emotions and extended periods when your nearest and dearest, your social life and your free time take a back seat. There’s no nice way of saying it – an event is a huge responsibility and one that will take up a lot of your time.

The best advice we can give you is to find an event planner straight off to help you put your best foot forward at your event and deliver on your vision for the event. That way, once they’ve done all the heavy lifting, all you have to do is arrive on the day of the event looking fresh, fabulous, and stress-free and allow yourself to revel in its success. Your event planner would have handled everything for you, from haggling with suppliers, to sourcing the best locations at great prices, and should even handle the headache of RSVPs. In the Western Cape and Gauteng we highly recommend Revel Africa for bespoke events and innovative ideas that fit your budget.

Whether you use an event planner or not, you will need to think these through.

  • Decide on a theme – A theme helps to unify your ideas, source expert speakers, and market to the right people. Pick something simple, catchy and on topic. You can even go so far as creating a mission statement for the event to keep your efforts focused, such as, “We care a whole lot about this topic / industry / situation and we couldn’t find a conference that matched what we want and need. Our goal is to bring something that is welcoming and inspiring, where the talks are fresh, and the snacks are even fresher. We’d love you to join us and celebrate the people (including you!) who make this industry great.”
  • Prepare a budget and make bookings – Knowing what your budget is will help you set the price for delegates if it is not an in-house event. Here are the most common items you need to budget for, and book:
    • Venue – Once you’ve found a venue within the price and date range that you had in mind, you can fix the date for the event.
    • Transportation – For out-of-town delegates.
    • Catering – Events can rise and fall on the quality of the food provided. Shop around for this one and request taste-tests.
    • Speaker – Start thinking about speakers very early on, as all the good ones get snapped up fairly far in advance, so if you want your top choices, secure them as soon as possible. For interactive staff sales training we recommend Mark Berger, and for your MC / Inspiration needs, we recommend Warrior Ric.
    • Activities – Think of icebreakers and activities to get people out of observation mode and into participation mode.
    • Marketing – If this event is for external delegates, invest in a good marketing agency for social media, printed marketing collateral, banners, brochures, website updates, and paid media.
    • Team members – Select, and brief the team that will help you with this event.
    • Invitations – Once you have a date, venue, and keynote speakers, you can send out your invitation. Managing RSVPs and payment effectively is critical. Quicket can be a useful payment portal for events.
  • Daily emails: Once the conference has started, send out a daily email outlining the itinerary for that day. Keynote speakers and times, social events, meal plans, highlighted sessions, even the daily weather report can all help the attendee feel more prepared and connected when they reach the event. You can use Mailchimp or any other of the great bulk mailer platforms available.
  • FAQ: An FAQ is great for questions that come up again and again. The answers can be published on an event FAQ page on your website and the link sent in the daily mails. Questions like:
    • Are sessions be recorded? When will they be available?
    • Is parking available?
    • What’s the Wi-Fi password?

3. Productivity

Be mindful of who is attending the session and whether or not the session’s content is suitable to them. A talk that is too basic, too advanced, too demographically narrow, or too far off-topic for the conference – no matter how famous the speaker is – will bring the session’s productivity to a grinding halt.

Another great thing to consider is self-directed co-ordination as a great way to meet new people or to connect with people you’ve known for a long time. Using a Twitter hashtag, a Slack team, a Telegram group, are a great communication channel for the event to ensure attendees easily find information about how to network with each other. If your event is more technical, you could also create a wiki during the event to enable sub-communities to self-organise on the day and share content.

When it comes to how productive the sessions are, as the event planner it might be tempting to participate in the day’s events. However, as a facilitator your role is to remain objective and observe. You can’t facilitate and participate at the same time. Keep scanning the room to sense the mood and energy; keep discussions on track by asking great questions; constantly keep the end goal in mind. Typically, a good facilitator or event planner is often invisible on the day of the event.

4. Participation

There are many creative ways to structure the day’s proceedings to facilitate maximum participation.

  1. Campfire sessions – These start like a traditional presentation, with a speaker at the front of the room presenting an idea to a group of people. However, after 15 or 20 minutes, the presenter becomes the facilitator and shifts the focus of discussion to the audience, inviting comments, insights and questions from those around the room. Campfire sessions allow attendees to drive their own learning and share experiences with others, which also assists with networking.
  2. Birds of a Feather (BOF) – BOF groups are small, informal gatherings of people with a common interest or area of expertise who join up to work together, typically over lunch or during the morning coffee break. You can suggest BOF groups for attendees to join or they can create their own. Sessions don’t have a pre-planned agenda and are aimed at encouraging discussion and networking.
  3. Lightning Talks – As the name suggests, lightning talks give speakers no more than 10 minutes to make their presentation. Because speakers don’t have time to waffle, the presentations are to the point, which keeps audiences focused and energised. A window of between 30 to 60 minutes is usually given to lightning talks, which can allow for up to 12 speakers to be heard.
  4. Silent Disco Talks – This is where many speakers present at once within the same room, while delegates – wearing wireless headphones with channels that they can switch between – choose who they want to listen to. Delegates enjoy bite-sized pieces of information and are always tuned in to something that interests them.
  5. World Café – This simple, effective, and flexible format is ideal for hosting large group discussions. Start the first round of discussion with groups of four to six people sitting around a table, and present each group with a question. After 15 minutes, each member of the group moves to a different table. Once all rounds have been completed, key points from each table are presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion.
  6. Storytelling – This is where speakers tell real-life stories that help illustrate or enhance themes in the conference. The story should contain a beginning, a middle and an end, with characters and plots, like adversity and triumph. Stories should be 15 minutes long, with 10 minutes provided for Q&A afterwards.

Here’s to hosting many great workshops and events this year.

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Business Landscape

What Is Business Insurance And Why Does Your Business Need It?

Your business asset insurance cost will go up if you add on more items, but this is common with all insurances. Not sure why you need it? Find out more information below.

Amy Galbraith

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business-insurance

You need to protect your business against all eventualities. This means that you need to have the ability to pay for any physical or legal damages that might occur, such as a client claiming that they were injured while on your property or an asset being stolen from your property. And business insurance in South Africa is a necessity if you want to apply for business finance, as the bank will need to see that your assets are insured.

You might be wondering now, as a business owner, “What is business asset insurance?” It’s insurance which insures your assets, such as vehicles, electronic equipment, and your business premises. You can also opt to have business car insurance if you have a company car that is used by your employees. Your business asset insurance cost will go up if you add on more items, but this is common with all insurances. Not sure why you need it? Find out more information below.

It protects your assets

Whether you are a small business just setting up or an established company, you likely have assets that are important to keep your business functioning. This could be a business vehicle that you use to transport goods to clients or computers that are vital to your employees.

If you do not insure these assets, you will need to pay for repairing and replacing that might need to happen out of your own funds. And this can become extremely expensive, depending on what has been damaged, lost or stolen. Another reason why you need business asset insurance is that there might be a natural disaster or “act of God” that occurs, such as a fire or flood, which could damage your equipment, meaning that it needs to be replaced.

It protects you from legal issues

Some of the problems that businesses face include legal issues, which can become costly and tiresome. These issues can be handled easily and efficiently if your business insurance to help pay for legal fees and settlement fees with the client or employee who is issuing the complaint.

In the case of being sued or taken to court, it is useful to have a business insurance offering available to help you. If you do not have this type of insurance, you will soon see that legal costs can become exorbitant. Legal issues can also reflect negatively on your company in the eyes of other clients or employees, but having business insurance can help to clear up any problems effectively and without any drama.

Your business will not shut down due to incidents

If your business vehicle is stolen or if the equipment is damaged, this could lead to your business closing for a period while you try to recoup your loss of money. This could lead to you losing even more money which could be highly detrimental to the success of your business.

Your insurance company will be able to compensate you the lost funds, granted that the issue is covered by the insurance cover you have in place. This will allow you to stay open despite the fact that you are experiencing difficulties due to equipment not working or other problems. You could even opt for emergency assistance if there is a natural disaster which will keep you, your employees and even your property safe from damage.

Your employees will be protected

Your employees are the backbone of your company. And, as such, you should have protection in place for them. You should have workers’ compensation coverage in place so that should your company lose money or be unable to pay your staff, their needs will still be covered.

And business insurance will protect them from any possible lawsuits that could be lodged against them by clients or customers. It can become highly expensive to pay for these out of your own pocket. Protecting your employees protects your business, so be sure to invest in insurance which offers workers’ compensation as well as disability cover to protect your employees.

Think smart for your future

Having business asset insurance and business insurance is important to both small businesses and large corporations. This is because your assets will be protected from theft and damage, which can be costly to replace and repair. You will also be able to weather any legal storm that might come your way, as well as being able to protect your employees and their welfare.

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Business Landscape

How To Get A Tax Clearance Certificate In South Africa

This post is for you if you need a Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS. We explain everything you need to know about Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa: from why you need one to apply for most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s to how to get yours as quickly as possible.

Company Partners

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When applying for Tenders, Contracts and RFQ’s in South Africa, chances are you need to submit a Tax Clearance Certificate. In this piece we’re explaining the why, the how and the where on getting a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.

We’ve asked our team of specialists at Company Partners to answer frequently-asked questions they get from South African entrepreneurs on Tax Clearance Certificates. Company Partners is a local company who specialises in fast-tracked company documentation like Tax Clearance Certificates.

Here are the questions SA entrepreneurs have on Tax Clearance Certificates and our expert’s answers (you can just skip to the FAQ’s you’re interested in):

  1. The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate
  2. Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?
  3. How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa
  4. Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate
  5. Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa to apply for Tenders?
  6. The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.

Expert tip: if you’re interested in getting a fast-tracked Tax Clearance Certificate, just call Company Partner’s toll-free number 0800 007 269 or visit their Tax Clearance Certificate page here.

1. The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate

A Tax Clearance Certificate is essentially a piece of official documentation that your business can get from SARS as proof that you have no outstanding Tax at SARS. Having a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa means your business is in good standing with SARS.

Related: What Should I Know About Dealing With Tax When It Comes To My Business?

2. Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?

You want to partner with credible companies, right? The same goes for companies looking for contractors. That’s why companies want to check if their potential contractors are in good standing with SARS.

You cannot skip your SARS payments and get a Tax Clearance Certificate. You need to “clear” all Tax matters first before you can get the certificate.

In short, that’s exactly why you’ll see most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s asking you to provide a Tax Clearance Certificate in your applications/bids. It’s essentially a form of administrative security to ensure you don’t have bad debt with SARS.

3. How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa

SARS is the only entity who can issue legal Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa. However, there are various way to get a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate.

The first method is using eFiling and navigating SARS’s e-portal by yourself.

The second is queuing at a local SARS branch.

The third, and the easiest method is asking a Tax Professional to assist you. This can either be a Tax Accountant, or a fast-tracked company service provider like Company Partners. They have a team of Tax Experts who communicate directly with SARS on your behalf.

Their team specialises in assisting South African businesses to get their SARS-issued Tax Certificate as quickly, and with as little effort as possible.

This is one of the easiest methods to get your Tax Clearance Certificate simply because you don’t need to figure out what, how and where you need to submit your details and the required documentation. Company Partners knows exactly what SARS wants – and also how and where they want it.

This process is also much faster and easier because it’s online and completely rules out queuing and unclarity.

south-african-tax

4. Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate

As mentioned in the previous answer, there are three ways to get a Tax Clearance Certificate. Although all three approaches entail a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate, the third way is by far the easiest and the fastest.

The first method is applying online and DIY via SARS’s eFiling site. This might be complicated and time-consuming if you don’t know exactly what documentation you need to submit and in what formats.

The second method is visiting a local SARS branch for assistance.

The third option is using a Tax Accountant or a professional service provider like Company Partners.

Related: 7 Direct And Indirect Taxes You Should Consider Before Registering Your Business

The Company Partners process is simple: 

Step 1:  

Sign up for their Tax Clearance service here. A dedicated expert will give you a call and walk you through everything. Alternatively, you can call them directly on their toll-free number 0800 007 269.

Step 2:

Follow the easy steps your dedicated Consultant gives you telephonically and via email. If you need any assistance, just contact your Consultant.

Step 3:

They make sure you get your Tax Clearance Certificate in record-breaking time. It’s as simple as that.

5. Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa when applying for Tenders?

Usually, yes.  Any credible company or government institution will probably request a Tax Clearance Certificate.

A Tax Clearance Certificate issued by SARS is the only proof they have that you don’t have any outstanding debts payable to SARS.

6. The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa

The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa is using a professional to assist you. Before you opt out in fear of the associated cost, there really are cost-effective options for you.

You could use a part-time Tax Accountant to assist you or you could use a service provider like Company Partners. At Company Partners they specialise in offering online and fast-tracked company administration.

Using a professional cuts out the time you’re going to spend queuing at a local SARS branch or trying to figure out what and how you need to submit the required documentation.

You can call Company Partners on their toll-free number 0800 007 269 to start.

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