September 2020

Tales from the US of A... International September 2020

Harvard law student sues for tuition fee refund

The annual tuition at Harvard Law School is $65 875 and a student is suing to get some of that back. Because of COVID-19, Harvard, which has one of the largest endowments in the country, switched to online classes in March. A student demanded that his tuition fees be discounted and filed a lawsuit on June 22 alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion, and seeking class-action status. Civil litigators are not sure about the merits of the lawsuit and wonder if he will make it past summary judgment. While universities are expected to teach students, courts generally don't weigh in on how the education is delivered and it would be hard to argue that the plaintiff did not get at least something of value from the Spring semester.

Stephanie Francis Ward July 7

Read More

The World in August International September 2020

Novavax announced that its vaccine for COVID-19, which is under trial in South Africa, could begin the final stage of testing by September. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving approximately R250m to help support the roll out. Dr Shabir Madhi, a vaccinology professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, says South Africans will have early access to the vaccine if it proves effective.

Read More

National News National News September 2020

Norton Rose Fulbright

Gerry Pecht has been appointed Global Chief Executive of the firm, effective January 1, 2021. He will succeed Peter Martyr, who has led Norton Rose and then Norton Rose Fulbright since 2002. Currently Norton Rose Fulbright's Global Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation, Gerry Pecht commented: "I am proud and honoured to be elected Norton Rose Fulbright's Global Chief Executive. On behalf of the global business, I would like to thank Peter Martyr for the outstanding contribution he has made to the firm as its first Global Chief Executive, and I am committed to continuing to build on the foundations laid by Peter."

Read More

Freedom Constitutional Court Art Collection / Cover September 2020

Freedom' (1995) was the first artwork donated to the CCAC, after the commissioning of the 'Humanity' tapestry by Joseph Ndlovu.

Read More

Introduction - Feature September 2020 Environmental Law Feature September 2020

The environment, its beauty and what it provides for us, is generally taken for granted. As with much in life, it is only when it is no longer there, or is in danger, that we take the issue seriously. Sometimes that is too little, too late.

Read More


It is estimated that South Africa generates approximately 108 million tonnes of waste per year. As much as 90% of this waste (with an estimated value of more than R25.2 billion) is dumped or disposed of in landfill sites across the country. These are rapidly filling up and approaching closure.

Read More


Investment within the energy sector is becoming increasingly, if not predominantly, driven by climate change considerations and other ESG risks. The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which is supported by the United Nations, has become a guiding instrument for the financial sector in its move towards a more sustainable and responsible global market. Locally, the PRI has been incorporated into the Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa, which has been endorsed by the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa, and supported by the Financial Services Conduct Authority and Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Read More


Bright-eyed young people often ask me for advice about how to get into a field which they feel confident is growing as rapidly as the huge environmental challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Many scientists now regard the collapse of human civilisations as the most likely outcome of the combined effects of climate change, ecological degradation and the catastrophic decline in wild species. This means that, from the macro-perspective of humanity, the need to develop, apply and enforce environmental laws in defence of Earth has never been greater. Unfortunately, from the micro-perspective of the individual lawyer, it remains difficult to find a job or build a practice in the field of environmental law. The most lucrative career opportunities are advising corporations that cause significant environmental degradation, but even so, environmental law departments within large firms are often "Cinderella departments" because it is much easier to be a big-biller in other fields of law.

Read More

DOES SECTION 34 OF NEMA APPLY TO ECA TRANSGRESSIONS? Environmental Law Feature September 2020

In the May 2019 and June 2019 editions of without prejudice, the authors of this article wrote two articles, Private prosecution for environmental crimes and Misconception on section 24G, pertaining to the Uzani Environmental Advocacy CC v BP Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd (CC82/2017) [2019] ZAGPPHC 86 (1 April 2019) case. In this high court case, Judge Spilg delivered a groundbreaking judgment and held that Uzani Environmental Advocacy CC was entitled to privately prosecute BP Southern Africa for transgression of the provisions of the then Environmental Conservation Act (73 of 1989) (ECA) which were repealed and replaced by the National Environmental Management Act (107 of 1998) (NEMA). Furthermore, the court held that Uzani had proved beyond reasonable doubt that BP should be convicted of environmental crimes committed in terms of the ECA, even though BP successfully rectified the illegal activities in terms of section 24G of NEMA. Since the writing of these articles, there has been a significant development in this case.

Read More


South Africa's marine environment extends along more than 3 000 km of coastline and is rich in biodiversity, with over 10 000 recorded marine plant and animal species. Hake, anchovy, tuna, snoek, rock lobster and abalone are commercially exploited along our west coast, and squid, line fish and a wide range of intertidal resources on our east coast, providing an important food source and livelihood for many coastal communities. Our marine life also supports a number of recreational and tourism activities, including recreational fishing, aquaculture, scuba diving, whale watching and sharkdiving.

Read More

THE WAKE EFFECT Environmental Law Feature September 2020

With rolling blackouts and load shedding schedules becoming a permanent feature in the lives of South Africans, it is clear that we are in dire need of a substantial increase in energy generated from sources other than coal. One such alternative source is that of wind energy. The harnessing of the wind's energy to generate electricity is a relatively new form of power generation in South Africa. Currently there are approximately 24 separate wind energy facilities, which have a total of 2 078MW of wind generation.

Read More

IWUL OR WUL – THAT IS THE QUESTION Environmental Law Feature September 2020

In terms of the one environmental system (OES), the respective Ministers responsible for Environmental Affairs, Mineral Resources and Water Affairs agreed that the Minister responsible for Mineral Resources would issue environmental authorisations and waste management licences in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) and the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008, respectively, for mining and related activities, and that the Minister responsible for Environmental Affairs would be the appeal authority for these authorisations.

Read More

African Union publishes COVID-19 vaccine strategy Spotlight On Intellectual Property Law September 2020

The African Union (AU) recently published a COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The strategy was announced in a communiqué issued by the AU ministers of health and heads of delegation following a virtual conference on 24 and 25 June.

Read More

UKIPO puts a cork in it Spotlight On Intellectual Property Law September 2020

According to Herman Melville, American writer of the classic novel Moby Dick, "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation". Melville's words ring true today, especially for trade mark owners who appreciate that, in the world of intellectual property, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.

Read More

Trademarks – good for a smile Spotlight On Intellectual Property Law September 2020

What I like about IP is that it can be fun, and there probably aren't too many areas of law where you can say that – tax, construction, employment... surely not! I'm not suggesting that all areas of IP are fun of course – patents, industrial designs, copyright, these are real permafrown areas of law – but trademarks manage to introduce some humour from time to time. Not laugh-your-head-off humour you understand, just gentle-smile humour. As these three recent trademark stories hopefully illustrate.

Read More

View Issue Feature
Featured this month