Martin was admitted as an Attorney in 1998 and appointed as Director of CK Friedlander Shandling Volks in 2001. He joined STBB as a director when the two firms merged in June 2012. Areas of expertise: Construction disputes; Commercial Litigation; Alternate Dispute Resolution; Insolvency, liquidations and insolvency enquiries; Property, Planning and Sectional Title Litigation; Admiralty and Maritime law. Martin has extensive experience in construction law litigation, including litigating on behalf of contractors, employers, and principal agents arising out of the JBCC Building Agreements, FIDIC agreement and bespoke construction law agreements; advising and appearing in construction law arbitrations and adjudications under the JBCC agreement and FIDIC agreement;Property and planning law disputes including heritage disputes, zoning, departures and title deed restriction disputes;Advising developers regarding planning law, environmental issues; Administrative law, including the Western Cape Land Use Planning Act, Spacial Planning and Land Use Management Act, City of Cape Town Municipal Planning By-Law; Advising and representing municipal entities, including but not limited to advice on the Municipal Finance Management Act and Regulations thereto, the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations, and the Public Finance Management Act; High Court and Appeal Court litigation; and Arbitrations, both as legal counsel and sitting as arbitrator.

Thought of the Week | Life partners left out of wills: A big win by our litigation team

Generally, where life partners do not conclude a civil marriage, difficulty arises if one of the partners passes away without nominating the other partner as a beneficiary in his or her will. This is because of the wording in the legislation that deals with claims against deceased estates (specifically, in this instance, the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act): A married spouse is automatically acknowledged in certain claims, but not an unmarried life partner.

In a victory for the right to inherit from a life partner where the partners were not married, the Constitutional Court confirmed late in December 2021 that certain sections of the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act are unconstitutional. The ruling follows on the outcome in the Western Cape High Court, instituted by our Cape Town Litigation Team on behalf of Ms Bwanya, the fiancée and life partner of the late Mr Ruch. Before his death, the two were planning to start a family and open a business together. Ms Bwanya was however not mentioned in the will. It appeared that Mr Ruch had never updated his will which left his entire estate to his mother who had passed away in 2013 already. At the time, Ms Bwanya’s claims as ‘a surviving spouse’ against the estate was rejected by the executors because she was not married to Mr Ruch and not a ‘spouse’.

Our argument that the Intestate Succession Act should be amended to include, alongside the word ‘spouse’, also the words, ‘or a partner in a permanent opposite-sex life partnership in which the partners had undertaken reciprocal duties of support and had been committed to marrying each other’, was accepted by the Western Cape High Court and now confirmed by the Constitutional Court. In this way, such partners may inherit under the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act.

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