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Global warming and housing prices

It seems that most people these days accept that global warming is real – and certainly the scientists are unanimous about that.  It is interesting though that it hasn’t started to impact yet on property prices or the stock market.

If you think about it, at some point obviously certain areas will be much more uninhabitable than before, and when everybody in that area realises that, nobody will buy there anymore – at least not unless they are given a steep discount.  

We are looking at a lot of areas becoming much hotter than they currently are, and in addition to that, the level of sea water is rising around the world.  Think about that in practical terms – the house on the beachfront in Umhlanga Rocks or your cottage at Clifton.  I know none of us can afford one, but just think about those properties.  If the sea levels do really rise, as much as scientists are saying they will, at some point some of the houses will be flooded.  At the very least, and if nothing else, certain beaches will disappear.  Assuming you have the money you will not be quite as excited to buy at Clifton when the beach no longer exists and the water is lapping over it up against the base of the houses.  The scary thing is that most of these predictions are not based on what is going to happen in 200 or 300 years’ time, but rather in the next 30 to 50 years – so they are talking about things that will be happening in our lifetime.  I must just emphasise that I have given Clifton as an example – I am not saying there is a report that says that Clifton is going to lose its beach in 30 to 50 years, but obviously as sea levels rise around the world and if that continues to happen, it is guaranteed at some point that that beach will no longer exist. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 29-May-17   |  Permalink   |  13 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Uber in South Africa

I don’t catch Uber around Johannesburg much, but when I am in Cape Town and Durban I do tend to use them.  I did not realise that the Uber drivers in South Africa did not generally own their cars, as they do in most other countries.  In other words, the average Uber driver in South Africa is actually driving for somebody else who owns the car and he pays that driver a salary and then receives the money to his/her own account with Uber.  In some ways it is quite a foolproof system and stops the drivers from stealing from owners – something that the taxi industry might like to think about.  Of course, most in the taxi industry probably doesn’t want to have a traceable record of the money they are receiving.  Tax rates in South Africa might actually be able to stabilise or go down if everybody paid their fair share of tax, but I guess that is not going to happen soon.  

In any event, I am told that people are so interested in owning vehicles to be driven by their drivers for Uber, that there is a 6 month waiting period to get a car in South Africa onto the Uber system – I have a friend who is about 3 months into the process and he wants to get an Uber black car, but I was stunned to discover that it is such a big business behind the scenes that the person driving the car is not in fact, in most cases, the actual owner of the car.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 26-May-17   |  Permalink   |  22 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Inflation slows to 6.1%

I see inflation is fighting back after having recently touched 6.3% and it is back now to 6.1%.  This is, despite the Rand going backwards by about 10% after President Jacob Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan.   The Rand is showing, what some South Africans consider a surprising strength since then, but that neglects the fact that the American currency has been globally weak for the last month or so – losing against all currencies – so it is not really a reflection of any particular good news, or otherwise in South Africa.  

In March the South African Reserve Bank estimated that the average inflation for South Africa would be 5.9%, but obviously to a large extent it depends on how stable the Rand remains.  Right now, we are not that affected by the junk status that the Rand has recently acquired, because we are still at relatively high levels within the junk status and we are not yet in a position where the overseas entities that own South African bonds are forced to sell them due to their lowered status.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 24-May-17   |  Permalink   |  21 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Too much power for the President

The recent firings of half the Cabinet Ministers and Deputies illustrate that the powers given to the President in South Africa, are far too great.  In other words, irrespective of whom the President is, the right to appoint just about everybody, on just about every commission, court or otherwise, and hire and fire every Cabinet Minister when and how they like, seems to be a bit too much.  On a side note, it is fascinating that politicians who feel that people must be given certain rights by companies, don’t give those rights to politicians – in other words, there is no hearing before you are fired, there is a press conference at 11pm at night where your name is read out and that is the end of your job!  

A system where the person in charge never has to listen to anybody else, or feel that other opinions should be respected, because the majority of his or her Cabinet could vote against them, is an unwise one.  I cannot see how it helps that the President can hire, fire and reshuffle whenever he or she feels under a little bit of pressure from the majority of the Cabinet, who obviously don’t agree on some or other issue.

Another thing that makes it particularly problematic is that you just end up with no continuity with one new Minister after another in some departments.  Many forget that, for example, when it comes to the Minister of Finance, we are essentially onto our fourth appointment in the last 18 months.  That does nothing for stability, but how would you expect the health department or the education department to run if once every two or three years, for political reasons and not because they are not doing their job (which they may not be doing anyway) people are just moved from one department to another.  These are complicated areas, and no sooner do you have a grasp of things than you are moved.  What makes it worse is that in many cases it seems to be the real reason you are moved is because you never approved something or took action in a way that the President wanted you to – irrespective of whether or not the President was right.  It creates an impression that the only safe portfolios at a Cabinet level are those where none of the President’s associates, friends or interests, have any interest.  If they do have any interests, and you want to keep your job – well then you know what you have to do.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 22-May-17   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Who are the enemies?

I was disappointed to see what was said at various Workers Day rallies.  There was booing of President Jacob Zuma because Cosatu has backed Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as President and they don’t want Jacob Zuma to be the President anymore.  Some workers are still happy with Zuma and others demanded that he be replaced.  What worried me was how the ANC National Chairperson, Baleka Mbete, when interrupted in KwaZulu-Natal while giving a speech, explained to the people that were booing that that would make the enemies of the ANC happy.  She went on to say, “If we do this, we make our enemies happy.  Of late, our enemies have even learnt that they can march.  It’s us who have shown that our enemies can divide us.”  

I wonder precisely who she is referring to when she says our enemies have recently learnt to march?  I think it is terribly worrying that the ANC is singling out a certain section of the population in calling them enemies.  It is one thing to understand that a rebel rousing politician might talk like that, but being the National Chairperson of the ANC one would think that you would not engage in that type of speech suggesting that those who took part in recent marches are the enemy.  People do not become enemies of the ANC, or indeed the Government or South Africa, just because they think we can do better in the position of President.  It is sad that expressing one’s opinion can lead to this type of reaction and one cannot help but feel that when she says the enemy “have even learnt that they can march” she is referring to white people, although it is wrong to label all of those who took part in the marches as white.  It also creates the illusion that those in the ANC who want Jacob Zuma replaced are doing so because the enemy (these new people who have learnt to march) have persuaded them and are dividing the ANC.  

Anybody who follows politics in South Africa would know that this new group of marchers have nothing to do with what is going on inside the ANC and probably would not be marching if it was not for the fact that they know that the ANC itself is divided and is open to influence.  In other words, I believe in many respects the reason the marches were motivated is that many people realise that there are many within the ruling party who are completely unhappy with the situation at the moment.  It is incorrect to suggest that Jacob Zuma is the ANC and that he has the full support of the organisation when clearly he has lost the support of many within the ANC.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 19-May-17   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
WhatsApp and Waze

I was particularly interested in all of the comments on my blog of Tuesday, 17 January 2017.  WhatsApp has really become the definitive way of doing business in South Africa and in some respects I am making a mistake by not having a WhatsApp number associated with the firm so that people can contact us in that way.  I am not sure if you can get a WhatsApp number that goes together with a computerised system, so you can deal with it on the computer as opposed to on a phone – unless people say it defeats the whole purpose of mobility, but that would actually be more convenient for businesses.

It is something I have been giving some thought to and perhaps we should have that implemented rather than delay it any longer.  The only problem is how one advertises that in one’s advert when you already have 0800 ACCIDENT, and the 011 444 6200 that we advertise in a catchy way.  There is a limit to how much information you can put out.

Insofar as Waze is concerned, it is an application I used many years ago at the advice of an Israeli friend of mine because Waze originated in Israel before it was bought out by Google and moved to their campus in Mountain View by San Francisco.  It is undoubtedly extremely accurate and apparently keeps more of a record as to where it is diverting people to so that it can shift their traffic in different directions.  My problem with Waze was that it really does demolish the battery of one’s phone.  At that time I took it off my phone solely as a result of that – and I am talking about 4 or 5 years ago and certainly before it was bought by Google in 2013.  Hopefully, now that I am going to give it a go again based on what I read on my blog, it uses less battery than before.  

An interesting thing about Waze that many of you may not know is that it was sold to Google for a reported $1,3 billion, but as part of the deal, and Waze had 100 employees, each one of them received an average amount of approximately $1,2 million!  I remember the fuss that was made about Mark Shuttleworth who gave every one of his employees R1 million but obviously what Waze gave their staff is considerably more!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 17-May-17   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Generous benefits

South African employees don’t really appreciate just how lucky they are.  I was recently watching a movie made by an independent movie maker, Michael Moore.  He is a Democrat from New York and he generally tries to make movies about how America can be better, and he had a number of well-known movies.  In his most recent movie, he went around the world trying to find the best examples he thought of how generous a country could be and it was while he was highlighting the wonderful benefits in France for employees, explaining how generous they were, that I realised that essentially he was talking about South Afric!

It is interesting, particularly for a country that once epitomised the fight against communism and socialism, how close our benefits are to those types of countries.  If you take the pure capitalistic model, the number one most powerful country in the world and the world’s richest economy, the USA, they don’t have benefits to the same extent.

According to Wikipedia data for example, American companies don’t even have to provide their employees with sick leave.  If you are sick, you don’t go to work and you don’t get paid – but it is not the company’s problem that you are sick.  The companies don’t have to provide leave either – although they do to attract employees and in attracting employees some of the generous companies give 10 days a year (compared to a minimum of 15 days in South Africa) and Wikipedia says that the average number of days’ leave per year is 7.9, although 25% of all employees across America have no leave at all!  

President Trump, popular with some of my staff, was giving consideration to reducing the two months’ maternity leave (unpaid of course) that people’s jobs are guaranteed for if they leave or to have a baby.  I don’t think people in South Africa would believe that the period was two months in the first place, let along that they are considering reducing it!  You don’t really have to have any case against somebody in America to fire them for being useless, you certainly don’t have to sit through a procedure of endless letters and hearings for those who are lazy or incompetent or in some cases a little bit of both.  Does that make the American system better?  No, I am not saying that, but neither France nor South Africa are world leaders when it comes to their economies, although France is doing a lot better than ours.  It is amazing, with all of these costly benefits, that we have about one-third of the country unemployed and while those with employment will always defend their rights, they ultimately end up paying the cost of those without employment via taxes and rising costs as the currency slowly reduces in value.  I think South Africa has a wonderful spirit of Ubuntu that involves looking after others, and often involves employees wanting to protect fellow employees, but if you look at the bigger picture, and you look at the statistics for whatever the reasons are, in a country absolutely blessed with natural resources such as gold, diamonds, platinum as well as a country that is hard to beat from a tourism point of view, all of this is not really working is it?  

Why do you think, with all of our resources, all of our beauty and people with a wonderful kind and generous spirit, our economy is such a disaster?

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 15-May-17   |  Permalink   |  26 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Sending out your CV in one big mass email

Some advice I have learnt on the issue of CV’s relates to how some people email them out.  Do not send your CV to multiple firms altogether in the same e-mail with all of the different firms being listed in the cc column, together with some nonsense about your desire to work for their “highly esteemed law firm”.  It really comes across as a hit and miss approach, lacking sincerity and you will be lucky to get a reply if you copy 30 or 40 firms of attorneys at a time in your e-mail.  I’ve had some CV’s that have included the names of firms that I certainly do not hold in high regard, and the covering e-mail is essentially now bundling me with them, and I find it irritating, but even if that were not the attitude of most people, nobody really feels inclined to reply to an e-mail (although we do) that has gone out to 60 firms all at the same time!  While we try to reply to everyone who does write in, it is no wonder that most firms do not when the email comes addressed to 60 firms at once!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 11-May-17   |  Permalink   |  31 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The Players

The Players Championship takes place this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach.  The closest major city, right on top of it, is Jacksonville.  It is on the north-east coast of Florida, it is right on the ocean, and in golfing terms it is considered the 5th biggest tournament of the year.  

From an amateur point of view – and now I am talking about myself and other golfing fans who struggle with the game – it is probably the toughest course you can get.  I think that the only course I have played that is comparable to it is Carnoustie.  By way of example, on that particular trip, I shot a 75 at Kings Barnes, but I would still rate my 81 at Carnoustie amongst some of the best golf I have ever played in my life, because it is a far more difficult course.  Some courses suit those players who can just hit it far, even if wildly, but this is one of those courses that really makes you have to plot, very carefully, where you are going to put the ball.  It requires thinking on almost every shot and is far more difficult than most of the courses I have played in South Africa.  I think anybody who wins it would invariably be a great shot-maker – somebody who is really very good with their irons.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 09-May-17   |  Permalink   |  23 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
What does it take to succeed as a candidate attorney?

I interviewed a fair number of candidate attorneys during the years and I see others who make it in the legal profession and those that don’t.  I would say probably 50% of those who have a law degree never end up actually making it as attorneys – they go into other areas or become corporate legal advisors, which is not always as fancy as the name implies.  In many cases it involves working in a mobile telecommunications company sorting out clients’ arguments about their phone bills and issues with the contract – not something that I obtained a law degree for, but obviously each to their own and what they prefer to do.  

It would be wonderful if one could say, in terms of becoming a candidate attorney, that every aspect of the Basic Conditions of the Employment Act must apply to you, that people must treat you with incredible respect because you have a University degree and the staff in the office should bask and pay attention to every word that you utter, but that is not reality.  If I have to give somebody advice, I feel that I succeeded with my articles because I took the view that I was back in Std 6.  I was back at the bottom of the pile.  I did not adopt an attitude that I had two University degrees, which I had (I have three now, including an LLM in Tax law) or that I was entitled to be treated with tremendous respect everywhere I went.  I understood that in terms of the actual practice of law I knew next to nothing and that I would have to learn about office politics.  Office politics are probably the biggest reason that many of those that I was at University with never made it as attorneys.  They had disputes with secretaries at firms, or put up the backs of some junior staff by treating them as junior staff and then subsequently finding that they would not help them with anything.  It is not as if, in the average firm, your principal or the attorneys in the firm take a few hours off to explain each and every issue or document to you.  They often simply ask you to do something and expect you to go off and do it and if you have no idea how to do it sometimes a secretary can indeed be your best friend.  Don’t pick fights with secretaries, don’t have arguments with support staff however junior you may consider them to be in comparison to you.  Also, don’t be naïve to think that you have a superior knowledge to them in any way – in many cases, and I have certainly come across a number over the years, they are better suited to being attorneys than some people who do have law degrees.  

They may simply not have them because, for example, their parents did not have enough money to send them to law school and they might very well be studying for a law degree part-time by correspondence, not having had the luxury of taking 4 years off to go and be lectured at University, etc.  

During my articles I did a lot of photostatting, a lot of delivery of documents and I don’t begrudge that at all.  I don’t understand why, in some firms, filing ladies are left to put together court documents.  If I put together a court document, none of the pages would have been put back to front, upside down or out of order and while photostatting a bundle of documents and numbering it consequentially might seem like a simple task, but it is precisely the kind of task that needs to be done by a candidate attorney.

During my articles I was asked to have a look at my boss’s Jacuzzi cover at his house, which was a bit of a strange job to give to me, not because I was a candidate attorney, but because I was not particularly good with my hands.  I also, on one occasion, had to deliver a letter to a vet to thank them for being so kind to my boss’s wife when their cat died.  I don’t think that is what articles is about, but I did not walk away with anything other than an overall respect for the attorney I did my articles with, because he was a good attorney.  Quite frankly, if during the hours he was paying me to work for him he gave me a job to do, I was happy to do it as long as it was not unethical or criminal.  I am sure some people will take exception to what I am saying now, and that does not mean that people who work at my firm are required to do those types of things – far from it – they never had been, but I think that today there are far too many would be attorneys who take this training period far too casually.  They seem to chop and changes jobs, have to explain to who they are  are and how they should be treated and are always ready to march out the offices exactly at 5pm, if not 1 minute before.  I see very few hard workers who want to put in the extra hours – I remember one particular night finishing at 10pm at the offices of my principal.  I was not paid overtime, I did not expect overtime and when I bumped into my former principal as I have from time to time, particularly in Hyde Park Corner, I am always happy to see him because I don’t have any unhappy memories of the time I spent in his offices.

You may well choose to disagree with some of the things I have written, but it is practical advice based on years watching many of my friends at other law firms not ultimately becoming attorneys because they did not understand that they were back at the bottom again, and it was time to roll up their sleeves, do some hard work and drop the attitude! 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 08-May-17   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Kgoro Central – new development in the heart of Sandton

I was quite interested by the use of the parking lot at the back end of Nelson Mandela Square that is now becoming a development called Kgoro Central.  It is amazing that it has taken so long for a development to take place there, but maybe somebody was holding out for a top price.  It is going to be a 200,000m² mixed used development which is going to feature retail shops, offices as well as residential apartments and it really looks very interesting.  There is of course construction going up all over Sandton all of the time, and eventually you will need to not only have your office there but live on top of it, because you will not get out of it once you are there.

It is the kind of purchase I give thought to from time to time, because I feel that I missed out on moving to Melrose Arch at a time when I was negotiating to buy an office  unit there and my offices now don’t have enough space.  I would not need a large office in Sandton, but I do sometimes think that it could be of some benefit to have some of my staff there, particularly those who meet with advocates a lot.  On the other hand, my little war-horse at 127 Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkwood continues to produce profits, has paid for itself many times over and I probably don’t need the extra space, but I always keep my eye out for new developments. This particular one, its location and the whole mixed use concept really appeals to me.  The website is at www.kgorocentral.co.za.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 04-May-17   |  Permalink   |  33 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The Gore vs Bush Presidential Race

For those of you too young to remember, whoever won Florida would become the President in 2000 in the race between Gore and Bush.  Bush appeared to have won Florida by 1,200 votes, but there were problems with the accuracy of the count and they started recounting.  They had reduced the margin to 400 already by the time the Supreme Court stepped in and intervened.  The five Judges who have been appointed by Republican Presidents in the past voted for the counting to stop.  That was a decision which favoured the Republican candidate, Bush, because at that stage he still had his narrow majority of 400 or so votes.  The court Judges appointed by Democratic Presidents in the past all voted that the voting should continue to give a true result, but since they were in the minority by 5 to 4, the voting stopped and George Bush became President.    

In an election that resembled the one we saw in 2016 Al Gore had actually won the popular vote – he got more votes across America than did Bush, but because the counting of the votes stopped, at a time when the deficit was rapidly dwindling in Florida, George Bush became the President.  It is no wonder that the Democrats sometimes think that they got the hard end of the deal – they have won a number of elections on the popular vote, but lost on the per State delegate system and then when there was a possibility that the delegates would go in their favour, they had the Supreme Court intervene and stopped the counting!  So, both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won their elections in terms of a number of votes they received, but neither of them ever became President.  On a more positive note, at least Americans get a chance to vote for their President, even if it is in a somewhat strange system designed to ensure that the bigger States do not have more power than the smaller States – whereas we in South Africa only get to choose the party and have no say as to who the actual President will be.   

Bizarrely enough, in South Africa, where we have no say in the appointing of the President, the President has far more power than the President in America who has less powers of direct appointments and is held much more in check by a very strong media and a very vocal public, who are not as apathetic as most people in South Africa.  In other words, they don’t always take the attitude of “Oh, OK, I am going to have a braai and not go to the march, because nothing will change.”  South Africans are very good at complaining about the fees of their lawyers and other less important things, but not particularly good at standing up for what they believe on very important issues, and which ultimately ends up affecting their finances and their pocket far more than other issues. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 02-May-17   |  Permalink   |  24 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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Recent Settlements
Lumbar spine compression fractures R2 500 000.00
Severe hip fracture requiring total hip replacements R3 305 000.00
Head injury with disfiguring facial scaring of a young female R4 000 000.00
Whiplash and compression fracture of the spine R4 000 000.00
Broken Femora R1 914 416.00
Broken Femur and Patella R770 881.15
Loss of Support for two minor children R2 649 968.00
Fracture of the right Humerus, fracture of the pubi rami, abdominal injuries, head injury R4 613 352.95
Fracture of the right femur, Fracture of the right tibia-fibula R1 200 000.00
Broken Jaw, Right Shoulder Injury, Mild head injury R1 100 000.00
Degloving injuries to the hips, legs and ankle R877 773.00
Head injury R 2 734 295.12
Fractured pelvis R1 355 881.53
Damaged tendons in left arm R679 688.03
Fractured left hand R692 164.48
Amputated right lower leg with loss of income R3 921 000.00
Fractured left foot R600 000.00
Head injury and multiple facial fractures R5 000 000.00
Head injury, compound fracture right femur, right tib and fib fracture, and injury to the spleen R4 529 672.06
Head injury, multiple facial fractures, collapsed lung and a fracture to the right frontal bone R2 890 592.77
Loss of support R5 144 000.00

 


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