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Law of money, value and payment.

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Societies have, since time immemorial, traded real goods and services for expectations of goods and services in some future. These expectations have been associated with tangible and, lately, intangible property - which is generally called money. From the crude quantity theory of money, the purchasing power of a monetary unit is given as 1/ P = T/(Mv). P is the price of the traded goods and services T, M is the total money supply and its turnover rate is v. The total money supply M is dominated by bank credit. In the South African law (and elsewhere) the judicial recognition given to bank credit (1) as money seems to have happened as an unintended side-effect to accepting cheques as delivery vehicles in a cash transfer without any tangible money moving from the transferor to the transferee. In payment of money, the law of property and the law of contract overlap and become inseparable. Both the English and South African laws define payment as performance of a preceding duty. The Supreme Court of Appeal, in the Vereins- und Westbank case seems to have declared an abstract transfer of ownership of money to be payment even though no preceding duty to pay was found. The profit of a financial investment is called interest and is calculated from a simple or compound interest formula. Despite medieval legal, theological and ethical objections, neither is illegal in the South African positive law. The last remnant of the medieval protection of a guilty debtor (often the ruler) at the expense of an innocent creditor is the in duplum rule. This is particularly obnoxious during modern rampant inflation that was unknown and could not be predicted when only metallistic money was in use. The influence of the in duplum rule is being limited by recent restrictive judgments in South Africa and in Zimbabwe. In South Africa, the Government has a constitutional duty to ensure that its subjects are not deprived of property. Specifically, the Constitution prescribes in Section 224(1) that the South African Reserve Bank must 'protect the value of the currency'. It is shown that the recent Reserve Bank policies, unless urgently modified, are in conflict with the publicly promised inflation rate of no greater than 6%. The exchange rates depend fundamentally on the price levels of the traded or tradable goods and services in the respective economies. This leads to the concept of purchasing power parity, which is most accurately reflected in the relationship between interest rates in different states and their relative foreign exchange depreciation rates. It is submitted that the South African Exchange Control Regulations have outlived their usefulness (if ever they had any) and are unconstitutional - at least in so far as they interfere with the South African Reserve Bank's obligation to pursue its primary object 'independently and without fear'. In the main, the South African Courts have applied restrictive interpretation to the Exchange Control Regulations and they have justifiably ignored the public international law obligation of the Republic to recognise the Exchange Control Regulations of fellow IMF members extraterritorially. (1) To money related claims on banks - see the body of the thesis for the two-creditor-two-debtor legal aspects in the 'bank credit'.


Thesis (LL.D)-University of Durban-Westville, 2002.


Money--Law and legislation., Banks and banking., Theses--Law.