Vector Inbox: November/December 2014

November 19th, 2014, Published in Articles: Vector


In this issue, our readers comment on the article, “Certificates of Compliance: the role of the conveyance attorney” (Vector, October 2014, page 3), relating to the purchase and sale of fixed property.

Re: “Certificates of Compliance: the role of the conveyance attorney”

Dear Editor

As a member of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce, I have received a copy of your article on electrical compliance certificates as they relate to the purchase and sale of fixed property.

As a qualified principal operating in real estate for some time, I feel I have the background to comment.

In essence, I concur with the sentiment of the article Vector, October 2014, Page 3 but there are practical elements which make the current legislation unenforceable:

  • The estate agent has little or no influence over the choice of electrical contractor; if the client wishes to hire a “cheapie” off the street, they are free to do so. Therefore, the agent cannot be held responsible for the eventual result.
  • The conveyance has no knowledge of electrics and cannot be expected to act on anything other than the correctly signed yellow piece of paper.
  • The legislation does not provide teeth to enforce the act prior to the sale becoming a fait accompli.
  • By the time the purchaser realises that the electrics are faulty, the transfer is complete, the electrical contractor does not answer his phone and the seller has moved to the coast.
  • The Electrical Contractors Association charges R2000 for an inspection, and will not act against the contractor if the inspection shows deficiencies.
  • The purchaser has just been involved in considerable financial outlay and is usually in no position to retain a litigation attorney.
  • The conveyance hides behind the fact that they are only conveyancers and are patently uninterested in taking the matter further.

Some remedial action that could prevent the problem:

  • Regulation compelling the conveyancer to retain R20 000 from the proceeds of the sale for a period of ten work days during which the purchaser can check the validity of the CoC and then sign a release form for the retention to be passed to the seller. Rectification, if needed, could be paid out of the retention. This will give the purchaser the opportunity to get a second, qualified inspection done if they wish to. This will ensure that only qualified contractors will be used and sellers will be discouraged from asking the contractor to cut corners.
  • The agent could write a clause into the Offer to Purchase, holding the seller responsible for the validity of the CoC, enforced by an instruction to the attorneys to hold a retention concomitant with the size and condition of the property. Again, for a period of ten work days. By signing acceptance of this, the conveyance is empowered to ensure that the certificate is valid.

This would give the conveyancer the teeth to act, and if it comes by way of regulation, it will relieve both the agent and the conveyancer by enforcing an amendment to the clause in all offers with respect to the compliance certificate.
I trust that this gives an angle that could be used to remedy the current situation, which is far from ideal.

Malcolm Clark



Dear Editor

We conveyance attorneys hear this complaint often. Firstly, the conveyancer is not a party to the sale agreement. Secondly, not being an electrician, the conveyancer is not in a position to determine the validity of a certificate. Thirdly, the conveyancer is not required to lodge the electrical certificate to register the transfer in the deeds office.

It is also naive to expect a brand new electrical system in the older suburbs or on agricultural properties. If the purchaser is worried about the electrics, he should insist in the sale agreement that an electrician be appointed by the purchaser to inspect the installations.

Mike Thompson


Dear Editor

A very good and relevant article. However, would it be possible to ask Mark Palmer to write an article on the equipment used in an electrical assembly for an installation? Circuit breakers, busbars, switchgear etc. must also be SANS compliant, otherwise they must be deemed unsafe and, therefore, a CoC cannot be provided.
I say this with respect to SANS 10142 and reference to the following:

  • 4.3 of SANS 10142 Applicable standards, which states that all commodities used in a distribution board assembly must be SANS compliant.

l 6.6.7 of SANS 10142 Motor control, where SANS 1473-1 or SANS 1765 is mentioned but superseded by SANS 1973 part 1 and 3 respectively, for motor control assemblies above 10 KA and below 10 KA, the SANS 1973 documents call for type tested assemblies with busbars, circuit breakers, earth leakages etc., as well as SANS approved and tested coordinated assemblies for motor starters where circuit breaker, contactor and overload is used.

These requirements move us not only to domestic facilities but also to factories, mines, etc., where CoCs must be obtained. It is the responsibility of the certified installation electrician who issues the CoC to make sure that all assemblies delivered to site are also SANS compliant.

Tommy Maritz

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