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The Department of Mercantile Law is one of the six departments in the School of Law. The department provides training to undergraduate law students in the vital area of business law. The main objective of the department is to produce a student who will be equipped to use the law in the world of commerce or business. The department does not offer law only to law students but also to B(com) and BA(admin) students from the School of Management Sciences. These students are offered Commercial Law and Labour Law respectively. The department also periodically offers seminars to the University and local communities on labour law issues affecting employers and employees.

The department offers a wide selection of modules and these cover broad areas of mercantile law such as:

  • Banking law
  • Business entities
  • Competition law
  • Labour law
  • Legal relationships created by commercial transactions
  • Tax law

In line with the department’s objective the module outlined below are meant to provide the student with a strong grounding in areas of law relating to business or commerce. The modules are likely to be relevant to a law and commerce graduate whatever career they follow.

Banking Law (BKL 4531)

The course prepares the student to be able to:

  • Evaluate the principles relating to the bank and customer relationship critically;
  • Evaluate and apply the principles relating to negotiable instruments;
  • Integrate the principles of the law of enrichment and the law of estoppels into banking law;
  • Analyze other payments mechanisms such as credit cards and credit transfers;
  • Evaluate the supervision of banks against the background of the Banks Act 94 of 1990, the South African Reserve Bank Act 90 of 1989 and international supervisory standards;
  • Formulate general principles regarding money as a legal concept, the nature of banking law and negotiable instruments;
  • Formulate and apply the principles relating to payment by cheque and other methods of payment;
  • Analyze the delictual liability of banks.

Module Content

  • Sources of banking law
  • The bank- customer relationship
  • The bank as depository
  • The bank as the borrower: the taking of deposits
  • Tripartite  credit cards
  • Other payment mechanisms
  • Overdraft facility for cheque accounts/ Financing by way of loans
  • Banking Regulation in South Africa
  • The South African Reserve Bank

Commercial Law (COL 1541)

This course offered to Management Science students, seeks, inter alia, to introduce non-law students to the fundamental principles relating to commercial law and to develop their understanding thereof. The significant role of the courts and their judgments is stressed without referring to specific cases.

Course Content

1. The South African Legal System.
2. Introduction to the science of law
3 The Law of Contract
Requirements for the formation of a valid contract
4 Consensus

  • Offer and acceptance
  • Misrepresentation
  • Duress
  • Undue influence

5 Capacity to perform juristic acts
6 Agreement must be possible
7 Formalities
8 Terms of the contract
9 Interpretation of the contract
10 Breach of contract
11 Remedies for breach of contract
12 Transfer and termination of personal rights.

Commercial Law (COL 1642)

Commercial Law (1642) is offered to Management Sciences students. It deals with the legal principles applied in specific contracts in the world of business. The contracts include contract of sale, contact of lease, contract of insurance, credit agreements and contract of employment. The module provides students with a broad overview of the principles underpinning these contracts and the rights and duties of the parties to the contract. On completion of the module students should be able to apply these principles in the commercial or accounting professions.

Content of Module

Contract of sale (law of purchase and sale).

The contract sale is the most common or prevalent contract found in practice. This part of the course looks at the definition of contract of sale, requirements for a valid contract of sale, essentialia of the contract of sale, and the formalities (Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008), and rights and duties of the buyer and the seller.

Contract of lease (letting and hiring).

The part deals with the essentialia of a contract of lease, duties of parties, Rental Housing Act and miscellaneous aspects of a contract of lease.

Credit agreements.

The course looks at the rights and duties of the parties during currency of a credit agreement. Credit plays an important role in the economy. It enables consumer who cannot, or choose not to pay in cash for products or services, to have the use of such product or service prior to their having paid for it. The topic with situations whereby money is borrowed, goods are purchased or hired or services are obtained on installments. This is against the backdrop of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005.

Contract of insurance.

The topic deal with the different types of insurance, requirements for the conclusion of a valid insurance contract as well as rights and duties of the parties to the contract. It deals with the rights and duties of a person who tries to protect himself and his possessions against the many perils and risks (such as illness, accidents, death, theft, fire, liability towards third parties, and so forth) to which he is exposed every day. Emphasis is not only on patrimonial rights and interests, but also on non-patrimonial interests such as sentimental value or quality of life, which might be at risk.

Contract of employment (labour law).

The course will deal with legal rules regulating the legal relationship between employers and employees in an individual as well as collective context, plus those regulating relationships between employers and employees amongst themselves, and employees and the State.

Commercial Law (COL 2541)

The course is offered to Management Sciences students. It covers the following topics:

  • Law of Agency
  • Law of Insurance
  • Insolvency
  • Negotiable Instruments

Commercial Law (COL 2641)

The module is offered to Management Sciences students. It deals with business entities. The module covers:

  • Partnerships
  • Company Law
  • Close Corporations

Companies and Close Corporations (COC 2641)

The module deals with the formation, liquidation and related subjects from Company Law and Close Corporations Law. The aim of the module is to familiarise the student with the legal principles underlying business forms as well as how these are applied in practice.
Within the context of the current Companies Act the student should be able to understand

  • The history and development of company law.
  • Division of powers and the general meeting.
  • Composition and functions of board of directors.
  • Appointment, discharge, disqualification, fiduciary duties, duty of care and personal liability of directors.
  • Entering into contracts on behalf of a company: capacity and powers.
  • Capital maintenance and purchase of own shares.
  • Minority protection.
  • Grounds for winding-up.
  • Comparative study of company law.

The module is also intended to prepare a student to:

  • understand and explain the place of Close Corporations in the current Companies Act;
  • identify the innovating characteristics as well as benefits and disadvantages of close corporations, in comparison with those of a private company, a partnership and a business trust;
  • integrate all the facets of a close corporation, as a unique juristic person;
  • provide an exposition of the content, functioning and amendment of a founding statement; keeping this in mind, to be able to incorporate as well as convert a close corporation, and to evaluate all the different types of pre-incorporation contracts;
  • explain the principles governing the acquisition and cessation of membership and to compare the principles governing maintenance of solvency and liquidity with those governing the maintenance of share capital;
  • evaluate the relationship between members inter se as well as the relationship between members and their close corporation and to be able to draw up the association- and other types of agreements;
  • explain the capacity and powers of close corporation;
  • explain the authority of a member to represent a close corporation;
  • evaluate a close corporation’s accounting records, financial year as well as its financial statements;

Competition Law (CPL 4631)

The module is an elective offered to fourth year students. It has two components namely public and private competition law. Under Public Competition Law, the module deals with the history, goals and objectives of South African Competition Law; prohibited practices under the Competition Act 1998 such as restrictive horizontal and vertical practices and abuse of dominance; mergers; the institutions, procedures and remedies set out in the Competition Act. Under Private Competition Law the module deals with what constitutes unlawful competition and the recognized forms of unlawful competition.

Insolvency and Partnership (INP 2541)

The module is made up of two distinct components namely the Law of Insolvency and the law relating to partnerships.

Module Content

  • The Law of Partnerships

The course deals with law on formation of partnerships; the nature of the partnership; partnership property; the relationship of the partners inter se; the relationship between partners and third parties; the dissolution and liquidation of partnerships.

  • The Law of Insolvency

The course covers introduction to the law of insolvency; obtaining a sequestration order which includes voluntary surrender and compulsory sequestration; the effects of sequestration looking at the legal position of the insolvent; vesting of the assets of the solvent spouse; collection of estate assets; realization and distribution of the assets; composition and rehabilitation.

International Trade Law (ITL 4531)

The module exposes students to basic legal principles and concepts that play an important role in international trade and in South African trade law. In this regard students are able to understand the following: the importance and sources of International Trade Law; public law aspects of the South African Law of international trade; exchange control; international sale of gods; courage of goods by sea; methods of payment in international trade; settlement of international trade disputes; international business law.

Labour Law (LAB 3541 and LAB 3641)

This course, running over two semesters, introduces students to regulations and guidelines that regulate employer- employee’s relationship in the workplace.
The course prepares students to be able to:

  • Define the concept of employment;
  • Distinguish the different types of contracts and the significance of their distinctions in labour relations. 
  • Understand the application and implications of the Labour Legislations in labour relations.
  • Distinguish between legislation regulating collective Labour Law and one dealing with social security such as: Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Decease’s Act; Unemployment Insurance Act; etc.
  • Understand the implications of the Constitution on Labour Law.


Negotiable Instrument and Insurance (NIS 3641)

The module is made up of two components namely: the law of negotiable instruments as well as the law of Insurance.

Negotiable Instruments

This part of the module exposes students to introductory knowledge, research skills and competence in the law of negotiable instruments in South Africa and the application of the Bills of Exchange Act of 1964, as amended. The module covers the following topics: the Bills of Exchange Act, 1964; Negotiable Instruments not governed by the Act; Wertpapier; Some fundamental distinctions; Instruments ‘Payable to bearer / ‘Payable to order’; Validity and Liability distinguished; Regularity distinguished from Validity and Liability; Signature; Authority; Value; The Holder; Defences to the Holder’s Claim; Conversion of Bearer Instrument into Order Instrument and vice versa; Negotiable instruments and Legal Tender.


This part of the module deals with the Law of Insurance in South Africa. It deals with short and long term insurance. In that regard it examines the principles of South African law of insurance; the meaning of insurable interest; the meaning of risk and its limitations in insurance; misrepresentation and disclosure in insurance contracts; the meaning and import of a warranty in an insurance contract; performance under the insurance contract; insurer’s right to subrogation and salvage; how an insurance contract can be terminated.

Law of Sale and Lease (SAL 3541)

The module provides insight into the nature and function of both the law of sale and that of lease. It equips students with knowledge on the application of principles of rights, obligations, legal liability and legal claims in the Law of Sale and law of Lease in the context of the Consumer Protection Act as well as the National Credit Act. Other relevant statutory provisions are also considered.
The module equips the student to be able to understand the essential elements of a contract of sale and of lease and should distinguish them from other contracts; the consequences of entering into contracts of sale and lease in the context of the relevant statutory provisions as well as the common law; the legal duties imposed on buyers and sellers and lessors and lessees and the consequences flowing from the breach of these duties.

There is no information at present.

The following staff are attached at the department of Mercantile Law.

Designation Name Contacts

Ms.PP. Letuka

Tel: +27 15 962 8217


Senior Lecturer

Ms S. Muthugulu

Tel: +27 15 962 8441


Senior Lecturer

Adv. TW. Majake

Tel: +27 15 962 8295