Legal Terms

Contract

A contract is a written or oral agreement between people that is intended to be enforceable by law. It is always advisable to have contracts reduced to writing and have copies of other supporting documents i.e. certified copies of IDs for the contracting parties, proof of payment, copies of blue book or title deeds etc. This is the evidence of the contract and is helpful if there is a dispute later. Where parties opt for an oral contract they should be sure that this is done in the presence of witnesses who would be available to give evidence on their behalf should a dispute arise in future.

Where one party has not fulfilled their obligations in the contract, the other party has six (6) years in terms of a written contract and three (3) years in terms of an oral contract to have lodged their matter in court to enforce their rights under the contract, after which period their rights will not be enforceable by law. This is referred to as extinctive prescription and is provided for by law under the Prescriptions Act.

In the event that you wish to sue a defaulting party in a contract, your Legal Guard policy requires that you lodge a claim for cover at Legal Guard within 3 months of becoming aware of the breach or loss suffered. Only the first incident of breach is regarded for purposes of claim lodgment.

Legal Guard assists clients with drafting lease agreements (residential premises), sale agreements (developed land) and owner developer agreements (undeveloped land). These may also be downloaded from the website for self-service. Note that the insurer is NOT a party to the agreement and does NOT assume liability or obligation from the agreement.

Summons / Notice of Motion

These are both documents that institute civil matters in Court. It is important to contact the nearest Legal Guard Office as soon as one receives any one of these documents. They are used to notify the other party, either referred to as Defendant or Respondent, that a case has been instituted against them in Court. It is important to note that these documents carry a time period to which there must be a written response from the Defendant or Respondent e.g. 7 days, 14 days or 21 days. Should the Defendant or Respondent fail to respond within the given period then judgment may be granted against them and in their absence.

A summons may also be served on you where the State wishes to prosecute you for criminal matters. Your policy at Legal Guard only covers criminal matters heard at the Magistrates or High court and specifically excludes Customary court cases.

In the event that you are served with anyone of these documents, your Legal Guard policy requires that you lodge a claim for cover at Legal Guard within 14 days and / or before the lapse of time allowed for you to respond to the documents and enter appearance to defend in court.

Deputy Sheriff

A Deputy Sheriff is an officer of court carrying on business under their own name and whose mandate is amongst others; to serve court documents (e.g. summons, notice of motion, etc.). He may also attach and sell property through public auction (writ of execution), arrest and send to prisonfollowing judgment and by a court order.

Policyholders at Legal Guard may purchase optional cover for Deputy Sheriff fees at any of the branches nationwide. Once a Client’s matter has been completed with their appointed Attorneys and judgment is granted in their favour, If cover for Deputy Sheriff has been taken then Legal Guard will pay the fees due to the Deputy Sheriff and in terms of applying policy wording and tariffs.

Understanding Key Policy Terms

Small Claims Court

This is a division of the Magistrates Court that is confined to self-actors who are claiming debts/claims not exceeding P10 000.00. First step is to write a letter of demand and wait for 14 days for the other party to respond. If no payment is made after 14 days, approach the court for issuance of a summons. Legal Guard does not cover matters that are below 10, 000.00 or those that fall within the scope of small claims court, more so that legal representation is not allowed thereat.

Non - Litigious Matter

Matters are said to be litigious if they are suitable to become the subject of a law suit. There are some stages in which a matter may be regarded as non-litigious or administrative procedures.

Common examples include: Issues that may be resolved by Regulatory Bodies; Issues that are resolved by internal processes; landboard hearings; work disciplinary hearings or related issueswarn and caution by police officers of their investigations been officially charged with any criminal offence.

Matters that are deemed to be non-litigious are not covered by Legal Guard policies. Clients may however seek advice or guidance for such issues at any branch nationwide or at the call centre 3121986.

Pre - Existing Matters

A pre-existing matter refers to a matter in which the incident giving rise to the claim arises before a person becomes a Legal Guard policyholder. These types of matters are not covered as insurance typically provides cover for incidents or losses that occur after one takes up a policy.

See also the definition of insured event.

Prospects of Success

The question to ask before instituting a suit or defending one is whether the matter can be pursued or defended successfully based on facts available. In assessment of Claims it has to be established whether a Client stands a reasonable likelihood of success based on the information, evidence and documents submitted to the insurer when the claim is lodged. It is therefore important for a claimant to either state their case (if Plaintiff or Applicant) and provide supporting documents or state what their defence is (if Defendant, Respondent or Accused) and provide relevant evidence to that effect. It is important to note that the outcome of the claim assessment is ALWAYS dependent on the key information submitted by the insured and this decides whether a claim is covered or declined.

Evidence

In every Claim lodged with the insurer for cover, there must be evidence provided in support of one’s claim. Legal Guard policies require that each policyholder must seek and submit, at his/her own cost, supporting information for the insurance claim. Examples include:

  • Proof of payment
  • Sworn affidavits by all persons who are giving evidence in the matter
  • Assessment reports or Quotations in cases of damages
  • Charge sheet, forensic evidence, police witness statements
  • Proof of ownership – blue book, title deed, certificate of lease etc
  • Bank Statements (incl bank deposit slip, bank cheques etc)
  • Pictures
  • Copies of Correspondences
  • Copies of Summons or Notice of Motion
  • Court Order, Judgments, Writ of Execution and Nulla Bona Return
  • Payslip