Myrle Vanderstraeten joined Gleason Publications in October 1998. Assistant editor to David Gleason on without prejudice from October 2001 until March 2011, Myrle took over the reins as editor in April 2011.
Passionate about the publication, she has revelled in the challenges to maintain the magazine’s reputation as “a rare source of valuable information” and views the entry into the digital world as an exciting step that will expand without prejudice’s footprint into other jurisdictions.
Dario Milo and Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti write eloquently of the problems associated with the Protection of Information Bill (p 7). Since the article was written government made some concessions (June 24) by removing three of the clauses: scrapping the mandatory prison sentences for possessing and publishing secret information, limiting the power to classify to state security bodies and appointing a retired judge to hear any appeals for refusal to assess classified information. This response by government to pressure brought by many sectors of South African society has been called a "step in the right direction." There remains a major concern that without free access to information, corruption within government and state departments will remain hidden; this freedom is a major aspect of our Constitution and while it is possible to appreciate the need for national security for the safety of all South Africans, it is far too easy to hide behind this phrase.
Will they, won't they – the Wal-Mart/Massmart merger obstacles (challenges) kept everyone guessing, including the parties themselves. What was debated in many circles was how far Wal-Mart was prepared to be pushed before it told SA to take a hike which would have, undoubtedly, damaged the country's ongoing efforts to encourage foreign investment. In February without prejudice's sister publication, DealMakers, announced the 51% acquisition by Wal-Mart of Massmart as Deal of the Year; at the time, despite some rumblings, it appeared a done deal. In January, 95% of Massmart shareholders entitled to vote, approved the Walmart offer and when in early February the Competition Commission gave its unconditional go-ahead it was anticipated that the Tribunal would follow suit. But the Competition Tribunal heard an increasingly aggressive government/trade union argument and took into account the "public interest grounds" put forward.
The official word is that the new Companies Act will take effect on May 1. Business was given 10 days to review the Regulations and, given the public holidays which have seen vast numbers of people taking the intervening days; this realistically translates into four working days. Is this ethical – firms have 173 pages to go through before May 1 and, according to comment from Grant Thornton, the changes are "significant and there are new sections." I did hear one lawyer comment that a month would probably see the legal and business fraternity able to implement the changes accurately and, considering the length of time it has taken for the Act to reach this point, it is not unreasonable to think government could, and should, have got its act together.
There is a common expression that for many years has been used to describe the lives of South Africans who have experienced much change since 1994 – "we live in interesting times." For all of us who live here that understated sentence speaks volumes. For those involved with the law and its many changes it is equally charged when applied to legislative changes. The long awaited new Companies Act has been delayed, again. DTI spokesman said "... the Presidency must be allowed to apply its mind sufficiently in processing the Companies Amendment Bill before signing it into law." This seems distinctly at odds with the deputy directorgeneral's statement that the only outstanding matter was President Zuma's signature and his decision as to when the bill would take effect. For a Bill intended to transform positively business in the country, the ongoing delays have created not only indecision but also huge costs where transactions based on the new Act will now have to be stopped. Of course, for those companies that have been dragging their heels, this is a last opportunity to stop putting off until tomorrow preparations that should be in place today.
Certain events are diarised well in advance and the anticipation of an excellent social occasion is put just slightly off kilter by nerves. The DealMakers' Gala Awards Banquet is one such occasion. This is the 11th Awards function and the highly skilled corporate law firms fight as fiercely as other tombstone parties for the top positions in their sector in both M&A and General Corporate Finance. The high regard in which DealMakers is held and the accuracy of the tables is a tribute to the team which ensures deal and transaction details are precise and that no stone is left unturned in efforts to find "misplaced" activity while the pulse of the private equity market is checked regularly.
This year is without prejudice's 10th birthday – in October 2001 we published the first issue of what we believe has become an invaluable tool for, but not exclusive to, the legal fraternity. Our aim continues to be to provide information that is current, pertinent and analytical so that readers are able to keep abreast of changes in law. The style of the magazine is such that details can be easily accessed and information uickly absorbed in an era characterised by information overload and increasingly less time in which to complete tasks.