Talking Point September 2019

A succinct discussion of selected topical, legal matters

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I take great pleasure in submitting the September 2019 edition of  Talking Point to you.

We are still considering “retiring” Talking Point, and replacing it with a new publication.  I would appreciate your input in this regard.  Please email me at gunnard@walkers.law.

This edition is also on our website at http://walkers.co.za/.

Voltaire, the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778), was a French Enlightenment author, historian, and philosopher.  He was a prolific writer of literally thousands of essays, novels, plays, and poems, as well as historical and scientific texts. 

His most widely read work is Candide (“Candid” in English), first published in 1759.  This novella is ostensibly about a young man indoctrinated with optimism, who grows disillusioned as he experiences and witnesses the great hardships in the real world.  However, the book satirises various philosophical and religious theories, and was promptly banned in many parts of Europe and the United States because it contains religious blasphemy and political sedition.  Today the book is a prescribed reading in French schools.

In the context of the period in which he lived, he was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, such as the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion.  He also opposed slavery and was an advocate of animal rights.  He was a “free spirit” and clashed with the authorities in France, resulting in him spending much of his life in other European countries.

The following famous maxim attributed to Voltaire is actually a later summary of his words condemning public book burning by the French Parliament:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Voltaire’s work is a goldmine for quotes, and many of his insights are timeless:

“What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.”

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

“The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom.”

“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.”

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

More quotes from Voltaire

In this issue:

The South African spanking case

In this issue, this discussion replaces the usual famous historic case discussion.  Parents and grandparents will benefit from understanding the (new) legal position.

Raising the middle finger

We discuss a recent USA case to illustrate the local legal approach to this age old “salute”.

The importance of the order of death

What is the effect of the order of death on inheritance when two or more persons die in the same calamity?  We discuss a recent UK case to illustrate the local legal approach to this gruesome reality.

The Paradise Papers

This was one of the most famous illegal computer hacks of all time.  We discuss a recent Australian case about the trouble it has caused to a company well-known in South Africa.

Stick to the contract

We discuss a recent New Zealand case that emphasises this point – perhaps a timely reminder to members of corporate boards.

I would greatly appreciate your feedback on Talking Point. Please email me at gunnard@walkers.law.

Regards

Gunnar Dahl

Chairman