appeal

Woman “unduly influenced” to sign by "bully" partner, so agreement invalid

Three high court judges in South Africa, sitting as an appeal bench, have found an agreement between a now-estranged couple is invalid because the woman signed due to the “undue influence” of her then partner. The agreement would have given the man half the sale price of the woman’s property if their relationship ended – which it did, just days after she signed, when he became violent and she obtained a protection order against him. The man then demanded his share of the property and business as detailed in the agreement.

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Sometimes, to the relief of ordinary people, the courts actually seem to “get it” when it comes to complex inter-personal relations. Or so I feel after reading a decision from a full bench of the high court, Johannesburg. It involved a couple, previously in a romantic as well as a business relationship. The man turned out to be a bi-polar bully, domineering, violent and determined to get his own way, while the woman was placatory, fearful and unduly influenced by him.

"Iron fist" needed in fight against poaching, smuggling - court

Despite the scourge of wildlife poaching across Africa, the courts seldom see either poachers or smugglers in the dock. A recent trial followed by an appeal, however, has given members of the judiciary in Namibia a chance to express their concern about these crimes and to consider the prison term that should be imposed.

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The story begins just like a movie: a police sergeant working the x-ray conveyor belt machine at Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport suddenly spots something suspicious about two suitcases as they pass through the scan. She offloads them, and then calls their owners from the departure hall.

According to evidence heard in the matter of Xiaoling v S, however, things did not go quite according to plan for the smugglers after that.

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