Department of Private law

About Us


The Department of Private Law is one of the six departments in the School of Law at the University of Venda. As an academic and administrative arm of the School of Law, the vision and mission of the Department are aligned to those of the School. The department offers modules/courses from first year to fourth year of study towards the award of the LLB degree and some modules in the BA Crim degree both of which are obtained in the School of Law. The core areas of teaching in the department are Law of Persons, Family Law, Law of Property, Law of Succession, Law of Contract, Law of Delict and Conflict of Laws.

The Department contributes significantly to the core programmes offered in the School of Law by engaging in teaching and research in the specified modules.


The following Modules are taught in the department:

Law of Persons (PER 1541)First yearAdv GJ Joubert
Family Law (FAM 1641)First yearAdv GJ Joubert
Law of Property (PRO 2541)Second yearAdv TG Ramatsekisa
Law of Succession (SUC 2641)Second yearAdv TG Ramatsekisa
Matrimonial Property and Divorce (MPD 2641)Second yearMr VM Mphahlele
Law of Contract (CRT 3541)Third yearMr VMphahlele
Law of Delict (DLT 3641)Third yearMr VMphahlele
Conflict of Laws (COF 4641)Fourth yearAdv.MKMalepe (Choshi)

First Year Modules 

Law of Persons (PER 1541) 

Objective: This module generally discusses the concept of ‘person’ in law, both natural and juristic persons and their consequences. The module equips the student with the knowledge to identify, formulate and give simple advice on legal problems that relate to the beginning and ending of legal subjectivity. A student will also study the impact that various factors have on the legal status of a natural person.  Special attention is given to the position of minors and the effect of children’s rights. Upon the completion of the course a student has acquired the necessary knowledge of the basic terminology and principles of the law of persons and is able to apply this knowledge to a practical set of facts.

Specific Outcomes

A student should be able to

  • Identify the importance of the law of persons in the wider legal system;
  • Comprehend and apply the basic principles underlying legal subjectivity;
  • Explain when legal subjectivity begins and when it terminates;
  • Explain how the status of a natural person may be influenced by factors such as domicile, age, mental illness, prodigality and birth;
  • Explain the impact of the Constitution, the Children’s Act and other legislation on the position of children (children’s rights). 

Family Law (FAM 1641)

Objective: Family Law encapsulates the legal basis for inter-human relations as well as possible litigation arising from these relationships. Upon the completion of this course a student will be able to explain the formation of various cohabitation and marriage forms, the validity requirements for each kind of marriage, the various matrimonial property systems, the grounds and consequences of dissolution of marriage, and miscellaneous consequences of marriage and cohabitation. The modules interrogates specific jurisprudence and legislation determining and affecting family life.

Specific Outcomes

Upon completion of the module a student will be able to:

  • Expose the development of Family Law under transformative constitutionalism;
  • Explain the importance of Family Law in the wider legal system;
  • Comprehensively explain the legal requirements and consequences of civil marriages, customary marriages and civil unions;
  • Distinguish and evaluate the various matrimonial property law systems;
  • Comprehend and apply the grounds for divorce;
  • Identify the legal position of children and their rights in a family environment, with specific reference to the importance and impact of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. 

Second year

Law of Property (PRO 2541)

Objective: The purpose of the module is to provide students with basic knowledge on the law of property in South Africa, focusing primarily on the basic aspects such as the meaning of “property”; the function and place of property law in South Africa; and the scope and sources of South African property law. Learners are expected to develop the ability to distinguish between real rights and personal rights, to understand the content and forms of ownership and the legal limitations thereof; and to use the acquired knowledge to solve hypothetical situations either individually or in groups.

Specific Outcomes 

Upon completion of this module, the learner should:

  • be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the relationship between a person and his or her assets in relation to the nature of the assets and the origin, consequences, constitutional implications and termination of the relationship, and understanding of how that knowledge relates within the different fields in the same discipline;
  • demonstrate the ability to apply the rules and methods relating to the acquisition and protection of ownership, possession, holdership and limited real rights to solve fundamental problems in a defined environment in the field of property law;
  • be able to distinguish and solve property-related problems in unfamiliar contexts and to apply the solutions to support progress in the practice of property law;

Law of Succession (SUC 2641)

Objective: This module is offered to second year students who have little or no background of the Law of Succession and how it applies in practical terms. The basic terminology, concepts, rules and principles of the testate and intestate law of succession are explained. The common law and statutory positions with regard to testate and intestate succession, the most recent and modern developments with regard to the law of succession, the ability to use the law of succession (the basic research skills) to solve well-defined problems within the family context are all covered in this module.

Specific Outcomes 

A student who completes this module will have knowledge of the following and will be able to apply that knowledge:

  • Law on intestate succession
  • Testamentary capacity
  • Formalities in the execution of wills
  • Revocation and revival of wills

Content of wills (including usufruct, fideicommissum and trust)

  • Capacity to inherit
  • Accrual
  • Collation Pactum successoriumand puctum de non succedendo
  • Interpretation and ratification of wills

Law of Contract (CRT 2541)

Objective: The module is offered at the second year level. The student will be equipped with the basic principles of the Law of Contract which include the requirements for a valid contract, the contents and operation of contracts, remedies of parties to a contract and termination of contracts. More importantly the module also dwells on the innovative forms of contract such as electronic and or internet transactions. 

Specific Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • determine the validity and consequences of a contract;
  • apply the basic principles of the Law of Contract to factual situations; and
  • Give advice on specific subjects of Contract: Purchase and Sale, Lease, Suretyship and Credit Agreements;
  • Determine the appropriate remedies where there is a breach of contract. 

Third year

Law of Delict (DLT 3641)

Objective: The objective of the course is to introduce the student to the general principles of delict. This will be done through the definition to the essential distinctions between delict and similar subjects offered in the Law School. The discussions of the specific delictual wrongs which will be practically illustrated in the course of the lectures will give the student clear insight into the course and its practical implications.

Specific Outcomes

The student should be able:

  • Understand the concept of delictual wrong as the basis of legal claims in delict;
  • To appreciate the importance of the law of delict in the wider South African jurisprudence;
  • Explain when a person’s legal right begins and ends in relation to others in the society;
  • Understand how the bill of rights contained the Constitution have strengthened the common law and Roman-Dutch principles of delict in South Africa;
  • Advise the less informed members of his/her community on the duty of care as the basis for an action in negligence;
  • Advise the less informed members of his/her community on various remedies available to them for a delictual wrong. 

Fourth year

Conflict of Laws (COF 4641)

Objective: The module introduces the student to the essence of conflict of laws which is in some jurisdictions referred to as Private International Law. This is so because issues of conflict arise in matters falling beyond the territorial jurisdiction of a particular country, though it could also be within the same country, and sometimes involves people of different nationalities. Moreover, many rules of conflict of laws, just like public international law, are derived from international treaties, conventions or agreements.

Unlike public international law which seeks to regulate relations between sovereign states through the application of uniform rules, the laws enforced by the conflict of laws are peculiar to the particular jurisdiction. In most cases conflict of laws is concerned with private than public law issues. It is for the above reasons that conflict of laws or private international law is not categorized as a body of international law. It is a branch of domestic law of each legal system.

Specific Outcomes

  • Students will understand when issues of conflict arise.
  • How the conflict situations are resolved.
  • Which court has jurisdiction where disputes cut across two or more jurisdictions.
  • Which laws should apply in a conflict situation.
  • How foreign judgments are enforced.
  • What substantive law should apply, and what effects or recognition should be given to decisions taken, or legal acts accomplished, in accordance with other legal systems.

The following staff are attached in the Department of Private Law