It is strange that, as is frequently commented, gloom and doom sells. Perhaps in South Africa we are so tired of endless litanies of tales of the darker side to people that news of positive events are what we crave. In this issue we carry an article by Douglas Ainslie on the "silicosis class action". Not only was this the first class action settlement of its kind in South Africa, but it also represents a commitment on the part of all parties to reach an agreement that was fair to all in a particularly complex matter. Suspensive conditions are still to be signed and the matter has not been finalised, but it is hoped that the ongoing work involved, including finding techniques to improve underground dust and the consequential health risks, will be tackled with the same dedication.
He was affectionately known as the Father of the Nation. A father who made the impossible, possible. A father who bestowed us with gifts far beyond material measure. Education, careers, freedom, non-discrimination were all afforded to us.
As has been reported in the media, a "historic settlement" was reached on 3 May in what is commonly referred to as the "silicosis class action" (although the class covered both silicosis and tuberculosis). While the outcome alone is sufficient to warrant the positive sentiments, I would like briefly to draw some attention to the difficult context within which the settlement was negotiated. In this respect, what is also remarkable about the settlement is that it was achieved despite, amongst other issues, significant interrelated problems; the complexity of the litigation itself; and the broad range of other interested stakeholders outside of the litigation proper. The Occupational Lung Disease Working Group on the one hand, and the class representative lawyers on the other, negotiated in an effort to reach a settlement that was fair and sustainable for all parties.
On 14 June, judgment was handed down in the Western Cape High Court in a shareholder appraisal rights matter, Cilliers v LA Concorde Holdings Limited and Others (23029/2016)  ZAW- CHC 68 (14 June 2018). The matter is the first of its kind to be heard since the Companies Act (71 of 2008) came into force. The judgment provides guidance regarding the persons to whom appraisal rights accrue.
The recent announcement that China's Sinopec is buying a controlling stake in Chevron South Africa is indicative of the strength of Chinese companies' appetite for direct investment in the country. If the deal goes through, it will be the biggest Chinese investment since 10 years ago, when the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) purchased 20% of Standard Bank in 2007.
In a developing country such as South Africa many individuals are excluded from formal financial products and services. In recent years the debate regarding economic growth has expanded to include the notion of financial exclusion as a barrier to economic development, along with the need to build an inclusive financial system.
The need for global harmonisation of Regulation and Compliance requirements has seen the formation of, amongst others, the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human use (ICH), which aims to bring together the regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical industry to discuss scientific and technical aspects of drug registration.
In terms of s1 of the Consumer Protection Act (68 of 2008), promotional offers are offers to consumers which make provision for price reductions or concessions, irrespective of whether the offer is accepted by the consumer. These offers are usually made subject to certain terms and conditions (T&Cs) and, as a result, present a potential minefield to consumers. There are often onerous provisions tucked away in these T&Cs, which may catch consumers off-guard, and of which they only become aware after they have accepted the promotional offer.
"One cannot stand still in a moving river" – I used this Chinese proverb in the feature on the changing legal landscape carried in without prejudice March 2013 and it remains equally true five years on. Things have changed considerably, both globally and in South Africa.
In 2013, South African firms had to decide what their focus would be in the future as they, in keeping with a global trend, merged, got divorced, added dimensions, changed or stayed the same.
Exploring trends, challenges and trajectories within the evolving legal environment.
The legal environment is undoubtedly evolving: machines and specialists in non-legal fields are now performing legal tasks; and IT specialists, project managers, and data and systems specialists are fast becoming essential role players within an organisation's legal department or in-house team.
During my clerkship, one of my supervising partners noted in my performance review that I cannot expect work/life balance at the age of 24. This would be something that I would need to earn in time, and as much as I respected their mentorship, this thought that work/life balance at a junior level was not attainable did not sit right with me. I was determined to find a way to work in law that works for me.
Technology has revolutionised the workplace. Gone are the days when employees clock in at 9am, work in a specified location and then clock out at 5pm. Innovation has enabled employees to work from home, on the go or from a different country.
I would like to convince you that kindness is a measurable performance indicator and should be a significant measure of success for all leaders and all teams. You may think this sounds like more wellness-bandwagon do-goodery, but I will argue that, at the very least, kindness is as convincing a metric as any financial "more-for-less" measure has ever been.