Department of Mercantile Law

About Us
The Department of Mercantile law is an important department servicing both the School of Law and other schools such as the School of Human and Social Sciences and the School of Management Sciences. There are currently five academic staff members in the department with teaching expertise covering such diverse fields as business entities law, banking law, commercial law, sale and lease, insolvency law, tax law, law of insurance and international trade law. LLB students can register for the following modules in the department, consisting of compulsory and elective modules in law of insolvency, international trade law, sale and lease, law of insurance, tax law and international trade law.

The department offers service modules in labour law to the School of Human and Social Sciences and commercial law to the School of Management Sciences. Although the department does not have a dedicated postgraduate programme, our research LLM students can choose topics from a wide variety of study areas offered in the department. Prospective postgraduate students can register for LLM degrees covering business law, insolvency, tax law and international trade law. A Solid grounding in commercial law modules will lay the groundwork for a future career as a commercial lawyer including possible postgraduate study in the area.

Undergraduate ProgrammesCodeDuration
Advanced Labour LawALL 4631
Banking LawBKL 4531
Companies & Close CorporationsCOC 2641
Commercial LawCOL 1541; COL 1641; COL 2541 & COL 2641
Competition LawCPL 4631
Insolvency and PartnershipINP 2541
International Trade LawITL 4531
Labour LawLAB 3541 & LAB 3641
Social legislationLAB 3641
Sale & LeaseSAL 3541
Tax LawTXL 4631
Modules taught in the Department:

  1. Competition Law (CPL 4631):

The module is an elective offered at fourth year level. The purpose of the module is to provide insight into the nature and function of competition law and how competition is regulated in South Africa. The module is divided into two components namely public competition law, which is based on the Competition Act 1998 and private competition law, which is based on the common law and a few relevant statutes.

The module is made up of two sections namely, public competition law and private competition law. Public competition law covers the history, goals and objectives of South African Competition Law; institutions created under the Competition Act; prohibited practices under public competition law and mergers and merger control. Private competition law covers deception concerning one’s own performance; puffing; passing off; misappropriation of the Advertising Value (Leaning On); competition in contravention of a statutory provision; misappropriation of a Competitor’s Trade Secrets or Confidential Information; misappropriation of a rival’s performance; disparaging a rival’s enterprise, goods or services; harassment of a rival’s customers, employees or suppliers; and instigation of a boycott against a rival.

  1. International Trade Law (ITL 4531):

International Trade Law focuses on the law which governs international commercial transactions, namely: fundamental principles of international trade law, including incoterms; South Africa and international economic relations; international sale of goods, protection of international investments, the world trade system under the auspices of the GATT/WTO; methods of payment in international trade law and dispute settlement.

  1. Labour Law (LAB 3541):

This course, which covers both individual and collective labour law is a compulsory module offered in the third year. The course covers basic concepts of labour law; sources of Labour Law; the common law contract of service; employer and employee duties; remedies; the employer’s contractual obligations to third parties; liability of the employer for delicts of the employee; termination of the contract of employment; restraint of Trade; fair and unfair dismissals; substantive and procedural fairness; dismissal for misconduct, Incapacity, poor work performance and operational requirements; collective bargaining; industrial level of bargaining; company level of bargaining; plant level bargaining; statutory collective bargaining; non-statutory collective bargaining; Protected and unprotected strikes & lock-outs, and legal consequences of protected and unprotected strikes and lock-outs.

  1. Law of Banking and Payment (LBP 4641):

The module deals with Payments Law, the law of negotiable instruments in South Africa and the application of the Bills of Exchange Act of 1964, as amended. The module introduces fundamental principles relating to relevant payment documents and covers the following topics: the South African National Payment System; payment, clearing and settlement system; the role of the South African Reserve Bank; money and Banking; the Relationship between Banks and Clients/Customers; credits cards; travelers cheques; stop orders and debit orders; letters of credit and electronic funds transfer (EFT).

  1. Law of Business Entities (LBE 4541):

The module Law of Business Entities is a fourth year first semester module. It focuses on the understanding of the organization and operations of those business structures which are recognized by the South African law to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. The specific focus is on the sole proprietorship; partnerships; business trusts and companies, their establishment and demise and corporate governance.

  1. Law of Insolvency (LNS 3641):

Law of Insolvency is a compulsory module offered in the second semester of the third year. The module provides an introduction to the Law of Insolvency, a detailed exposition on obtaining a sequestration order (which covers voluntary surrender and compulsory sequestration), the effects of sequestration including the legal position of the insolvent and vesting of the assets of the insolvent person and the solvent spouse, effects of sequestration on uncompleted contracts and pending legal proceedings, collection of estate assets, realisation and distribution of the assets, composition and rehabilitation, winding up of companies and business rescue proceedings and other related matters.

  1. Law of Insurance (LIS 4531):

Law of Insurance is an elective module in the first semester of the final year. The purpose of this module is to provide insight into the nature and applicable principles of the South African Insurance Law. The specific topics covered are: definition, nature and sources of South African insurance law; formation of the insurance contract; insurable interest; risk and its limitations; duty of disclosure and misrepresentation; special terms in insurance contracts;  performance under the insurance contract; and termination of the insurance.

  1. Sale and Lease (SAL 3541):

Sale and Lease is a module in the semester of the third year. The module deals with the application of principles of obligations, legal liability and legal claims within the context of the Law of Sale and the Law of Lease. This is done against a background of the current environment of transformative constitutionalism. Relevant statutory provisions are also considered. 50% of the module is dedicated to the Law of Sale and 50% to the Law of Lease. The specific issues covered by the module are: introduction to the law of sale; how sale is different from other contracts; formalities, essentialia of a contract of sale; legal effect of a contract of sale; duties of the seller and remedies of the buyer; duties of the buyer and seller’s remedies; sales regulated by statute (National Credit Act; Alienation of Land Act, Consumer Protection Act); essentials of a lease; duration of leases; subletting, cession and assignment; duties of the lessor and remedies of the lessee; duties of the lessee and remedies of the lessor; and termination of leases.

  1. Tax Law (TXL 4631):

Tax Law is an elective module offered in the second semester of the fourth year. The module seeks, inter alia, to introduce the students to the fundamental principles relating to Tax Law and to develop their understanding of the concepts of tax payable, gross income, allowable deductions, tax avoidance and capital gains tax.

It exposes the students to the following concepts, which are illustrated by practical examples from case law: direct and indirect taxation; normal tax and taxable income; gross income as defined in the Income Tax Act as amended; double tax treaties; deemed source; intention with which the taxpayer acquires an asset to determine whether it is capital or revenue; section 82 onus and the factors that the court will take into consideration in a dispute of whether an asset is capital or revenue; trade, as defined in the Act; requirements of section 11(a) of the Act read with section 23(g); expenditure; tax avoidance versus tax evasion; connected persons as defined in the Act; persons liable for capital gains tax (CGT); capital gain and capital loss; deemed disposals and deemed acquisitions; married in community of property and disposals to and from a deceased estate; and the assets not deemed to have been disposed of on the death of the deceased and the principles applicable where the deceased estate disposes of the assets.

The following staff are attached at the department of Mercantile Law