Interpretation of Contract: A Lawyer’s Understanding Must Not Always Be Imposed On Non-lawyers

In an important development of the law of interpretation of contracts, the Constitutional Court held in July 2017 that where ordinary laypeople use ordinary words in a contract, their understanding of the meaning of the words used must not be overridden by a lawyer’s understanding based on their knowledge of legal principles not familiar to non-lawyers. View Full Post
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Acknowledging Indebtedness in Without Prejudice Discussions Interrupts Prescription

An acknowledgement of debt made by a debtor to a creditor in the course of without prejudice negotiations will interrupt the running of extinctive prescription unless this consequence is excluded from the discussions. In KLD Residential CC v Empire Earth Investments 17, the Supreme Court of Appeal was asked to strike a balance between the public interest of not forcing one party to settlement negotiations to issue summons to interrupt prescription before the conclusion of without prejudice negotiations, and the public interest in preventing without prejudice statements made by the other party admitting liability for the purposes of negotiations being used as evidence of the indebtedness to interrupt prescription. View Full Post
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‘Due Observance’ and ‘condition Precedent’ Policy Terms

A Singapore High Court held that a clause in a policy that ‘due observance and fulfilment of the terms provisions and conditions of this policy insofar as they relate to anything to be done or not to be done by the insured … shall be conditions precedent to any liability to make payment’ will not be given effect to if it would give rise to an absurdity and deny cover for the very risks insured. View Full Post
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Breach of Policy Requirement Not to Settle or Disclaim Liability Does Not Include Plea in Criminal Proceedings

An insurer in Singapore alleged that the insured had breached the obligation not to ‘make any admission in connection with any claim’ by pleading guilty to five charges of failing to comply with fire regulations. The defence was rejected on the basis that a person’s unfettered freedom of choice as to how to plead in criminal proceedings is highly important. View Full Post
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Limited Grounds to Set Aside Settlement Made Order of Court

If a settlement agreement is made an order of court it is not enough to try to set aside the agreement without rescinding the court order. The order of court is not void and must be rescinded but this can only be done on the limited grounds of fraud and justifiable error (justus error) or on the grounds that a party to the order did not give authority for the order to be made, such as when an attorney settles without authority. View Full Post
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