Talking Point September 2018

A succinct discussion of selected topical, legal matters

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I take great pleasure in submitting the September 2018 edition of Talking Point to you.  This edition is also on our website at

Distributive justice is currently a hot topic in South Africa.  Internationally, the book A Theory of Justice (1971), by John Rawls (1921 – 2002), an American political philosopher, is still integral to the distributive justice debate.  Rawls is the most frequently cited contemporary political philosopher in courts in the USA and Canada, and has even been cited in the South African Constitutional Court.

Rawls suffered from a stutter, and became famous despite avoiding public appearances.  In an obituary, The Guardian described him as “[a]n exceptionally modest and retiring man, with a bat-like horror of the limelight“.  His written eloquence is not in doubt:

The fairest rules are those to which everyone would agree if they did not know how much power they would have.”

Thus I assume that to each according to his threat advantage is not a conception of justice.”

The extreme nature of dominant-end views is often concealed by the vagueness and ambiguity of the end proposed.”

More quotes from John Rawls

In this issue:

A moment in time

The exact time of day on which a contract commences can make a crucial difference.  We discuss a New Zealand case dealing with substituting short-term insurance cover on the exact day of the devastating Christchurch earthquake.

Break-ups: who gets the pets?

Break-ups and divorces are challenging to manage.  We discuss a Canadian case that answers this question.  Some individuals actually regulate ‘division’ of pets in an antenuptial contract.

Can you sue Google?

We discuss an Australian case that answers this question.

Going bald can be a hair-raising experience!

We discuss a New Zealand case on the right to wear a wig.

 The William Brown tragedy

The famous legal case in this issue arose from the sinking of the William Brown in 1841.  The parallels with the Titanic are fascinating; and the facts test morality in a crisis.

As always, I would greatly appreciate your feedback on Talking Point. Please email me at


Charl Theron