You find the house or car of your dreams. The seller is really cooperative and goes to great lengths to answer your questions. You conclude a sale agreement, arrange the finances, and then discover that the human being you were dealing with is not the owner of the house (or car) and the real owner (a trust) is not in a position to proceed with the sale.
When you enter into any contract, it is essential that you know who you are contracting with. While this sounds obvious, it is in fact often overlooked by parties eager to sell their car, lease their premises, or acquire new clients, and it is generally only when the relationship sours, and the time comes to instruct attorneys to recover and/or litigate, that it becomes apparent that you in fact do not know who have contracted with.
When dealing with individuals, ensure that the spelling of their name, and their identity number as displayed on the contract, correlates with that in their identity book or driver’s licence. Obtain a copy of a utilities bill which is in their name and which confirms their residential address.
When dealing with a juristic person (company, close corporation or trust), request proof of registration of the entity, alternatively, conduct your own search on the entity at www.cipc.co.za. Ensure that you have the correct name of the entity, the correct registration number, physical address and registered address, and confirm who the current office bearers (i.e. directors, members or trustees) are. If you are concluding a lease agreement or credit agreement with a juristic person, be sure to have a human being sign as personal surety as well.
The last thing you (or we) want, is for you to take legal steps to recover amounts due to you by a debtor, only to discover that the debtor is a juristic person which was deregistered prior to the signature of the agreement, or that the directors have long since emigrated.