Constitutional Supremacy

Gemfarm Investments (Pty) Ltd v Trans Hex Group Ltd and Another (P I 445/2005) [2009] NAHC 24 (07 April 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

The plaintiff claimed that it was patentee and registered proprietor of an invention for the "method of, and apparatus for, underwater mining of mineral deposits known as a "pebble jetting system.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants infringed on its patent by using integers of its invention in another invention, resulting in financial loss to the plaintiff. The defence argued that the Patents and Designs Proclamation, No. 17 of 1923 upon which the plaintiff relied for the registration of its patent had been repealed by the South African Patents Act, No 37 of 1952 and was therefore no longer in force in Namibia and that the union Act in s18 of the proclamation was to become main legislative piece for patents.

The court therefore had to decide whether the Patent proclamation was still in force and determine the legitimacy of the granting of the patent and the meaning of Union Act in the proclamation.

The court found that that the provisions of the proclamation under which the patent in issue had been granted, were not repealed or amended by the 1952 Act and were valid by virtue of Article 140(1) of the Constitution. Secondly, that the extent to which the Union Act had been applied to the law of patents in the Territory stemmed from s.5 of the Proclamation and, although it applied the Union Act to a wide range of specified matters, it did not apply to applications for the granting of patents. The matter was dismissed with costs.

Erongo Regional Council and Others v Wlotzkasbaken Home Owners Association and Another (SA 6/2008) [2009] NASC 2 (17 March 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal against a judgment of the High Court which ordered the appellants to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement entered into by the parties on 10 November 2006 and later became an order of court. The first appellant was an elected body established in terms of the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992. The first respondent was a voluntary association representing 104 members out of 110 persons who were lessees of sites in a holiday resort and fishing village of Wlotzkasbaken under the jurisdiction of the first appellant.

The first appellant advertised plots for lease without distinguishing between those already leased to the respondents and other vacant sites, which aggrieved the respondents and was interpreted as a breach of their right of pre-emption. The issues for determination were: the meaning of clause 2 of the 2006 agreement in the context of previous agreements and whether the advertisement was signaling an intention to no longer be bound by the 2006 agreement.

The court deduced that the agreements showed that in each instance the parties agreed to certain rights which would ensure that those existing leaseholders would be able, if so advised, to convert their lease holding into property rights. In their agreement with the appellants, the respondents acquired the right to have all the plots sold once the township was proclaimed. Therefore, the intention to lease those plots was a breach of the right of the respondents. Accordingly, the appellants’ appeal was dismissed with costs.