§ 7 English Summary in:

Arne Schmieke

Der Unterschied zwischen dinglichen und persönlichen Rechten an Immobilien im südafrikanischen Recht, page 281 - 284

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4095-9, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6936-3,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
§ 7 English Summary The South African legal System does not recognise a numerus clausus of real rights. Besides the general necessity to allocate rights either to the law of obligations or the law of property, the deeds registration system only allows for real rights in land to enjoy the protection of the South African land register. This raises the question of how real rights in land can be distinguished from personal rights. The main focus hereby lies on limited real rights (especially personal or praedial ser vitudes) and personal rights of a similar nature. The significance of the distinction is based on a multitude of reasons. To begin with, one of the mandatory components of the derivative acquisition of real rights in land is the registration of such rights in the deeds registry. Personal rights, on the other hand, can be transferred through a simple contract that does not require any publicity compo nents. Furthermore, real rights are potentially enforceable against the whole world (erga omnes), whereas personal rights can only be invoked towards a specific person or group of persons (inter partes). The so-called doctrine of notice, which in case of conflicting personal rights protects the earlier acquired right even if the later right has already been registered, blurs the distinction between real and personal rights to a certain extent, but does not render it altogether obsolete. Neither does the fact that there are exceptions to the rule that personal rights may not be registered in the deeds registry. Numerous theories and approaches have emerged over time to offer guidance for the problem in question. The classical theory aims to distinguish real rights from personal rights by pointing out that the ob ject of real rights is a thing, whereas personal rights entitle a party to claim a performance. The main criticism towards this theory is that real rights cannot be defined without reference to their third-party ef fect. The personalist theory describes real rights by referring to the poten tially infinite number of persons against which they are enforceable, while personal rights have a specific counterpart. Here the main criti cism centres on the fact that personal rights in certain instances have a third-party effect themselves, e.g. when it comes to an inducement to breach of contract, which triggers a delictual remedy under South Af rican law. The theory of subjective rights aims to separate the question of registrability from the nature of the right and thus does nothing more than relocate the problem to a different question. The prototype approach seeks to discern real rights by setting up a checklist of typical charac- 281 teristics. These characteristics, however, do not allow for the initial identification of real rights, but only describe certain attributes that recognised real rights exhibit. Another approach that focuses on contingent rights is the contingency test. It categorises conditions into precarious, potestative and casual conditions precedent and subsequent. According to this theory, only potestative conditions as well as casual conditions subsequent allow for the underlying right to be real in nature. An exception is made in case of casual conditions precedent, if it can be ensured that the uncertain event will definitely occur in the foreseeable future (e.g. the death of a testator). This concept allows a clear-cut Classification of contin gent rights. Nevertheless, an insecurity remains when the right is not contingent or if the nature of the underlying right was uncertain. South African courts apply the so-called subtraction from the domini um test in order to distinguish real from personal rights. Pursuant to this approach, a right has to be carved out from the owner7 s full own ership right and restrict the exercise of this particular right of owner ship in respect of immovable property in order to be considered real. The degree of deprivation is decisive for establishing if there has been a relevant subtraction from the dominium. Another aspect that has to be shown is the parties' intention to not only bind the current but also subsequent owners of the immovable property. The key issue with the subtraction test is that any right that relates to immovable property can cause a small dent in the right of ownership and there are no spe cific means to determine where the dividing line should be drawn. It thus fails to produce satisfactory results in borderline cases. As an own approach, it is suggested that two separate tests shall be applicable when distinguishing between real and personal rights. Both tests are preceded by a preliminary question for cases of contin gent rights that is inspired by the contingency test. If the right in ques tion is contingent, the underlying right only carries the potential to be real in nature if the attached condition constitutes a potestative condi tion or a casual condition subsequent. An exception is made for casual conditions precedent, if it can be ensured that the condition is triggered in the foreseeable future (e.g. the death of a testator). Any other contingent right can only be a personal right. Subsequent to the preliminary question, the two separate tests focus on the right itself. The first tests applies to cases where the payment of money is attached to the right of ownership. If this Obligation to pay shows an intrinsic connection to the right of ownership, it is consid ered to bind not only the current but also subsequent owners and is therefore real in nature. This intrinsic connection can only be estab- 282 lished if the Obligation is bound to a profit that is inherent to the right of ownership. Examples are profits generated through leases or min eral rights. The second test covers all remaining rights and consists of a four-tier scrutiny that is derived from the subtraction from the dominium test. Firstly, the parties' intention to bind the current as well as subsequent owners is needed. Secondly, a subtraction from the dominium has to be established. Within this second her, any deprivation of ownership is sufficient. Thirdly, a sufficient degree of impairment must be ascertained through three distinct categories. The right in question needs to either be comparable to a long-term lease (i.e. permanent, complete deprivation of an essential ownership right); or it has to curtail the enjoyment of land in a physical sense; or it must have a significant mon etary value. In order to be considered real in nature, a right does not necessary have to fall under one or more of these categories, but at least be comparable to the degree of deprivation of ownership that they portray. Fourthly, if the nature of the right remains doubtful after applying the preliminary question as well as the first three tiers, it should only be considered a personal right and not qualify for registration in the deeds registry. 283

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Die hybride südafrikanische Rechtsordnung stellt aus rechtsvergleichender bzw. rechtserschließender Perspektive einen besonderen Reiz dar. Das kolonialgeschichtlich bedingte südafrikanische Zusammenspiel von römischholländischem Recht und englischem Common Law ist einzigartig. In Abwesenheit eines numerus clausus der Sachenrechte sehen sich südafrikanische Gerichte regelmäßig der Frage ausgesetzt, ob ein Recht an einer Immobilie dinglicher oder persönlicher Natur ist. Denn nur ein dingliches Recht kann in das südafrikanische Liegenschaftsregister eingetragen werden und genießt sodann dessen Schutz. Die im Laufe der Zeit entwickelten Theorien zur Unterscheidung zwischen dinglichen und persönlichen Rechten sind ebenso vielfältig wie unvollkommen. Weder lässt sich die Dinglichkeit eines Rechts anhand des jeweiligen Bezugsgegenstands bestimmen noch anhand des Personenkreises, gegenüber dem es durchsetzbar ist. Die Rechtsprechung bemüht seit über 120 Jahren den sogenannten „Subtraktions-Test“, der die Dinglichkeit anhand der mit dem Recht korrespondierenden Pflicht zu bestimmen versucht. Nur wenn diese Pflicht eine Subtraktion vom Eigentum darstelle, sei das entsprechende Recht dinglicher Natur. Anhand einer umfassenden Auswertung südafrikanischer Rechtsquellen arbeitet Arne Schmieke erstmalig die dort vorherrschende Herangehensweise hinsichtlich der Unterscheidung zwischen dinglichen und persönlichen Rechten an Immobilien in deutscher Sprache heraus und konzentriert die vorhandenen Theorien in einem einheitlichen Lösungsansatz.