The Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984 ensures equal spousal powers in relation to the administration of the joint estate. Section 15 of the Matrimonial Property Act entrenches the right to joint administration by requiring written consent of the other spouse in transactions that would have a substantial impact on their share of the joint estate. Most notably, section 15(2)(g) requires the consent of a spouse “to enter into a contract as defined in the Alienation of Land Act” which is generally understood as requiring the consent of both spouses when purchasing immovable property. The Alienation of Land Act 81 of 1988 defines “contract” as a “deed of alienation under which land is sold against payment by the purchaser to, or to any person on behalf of, the seller of an amount of money in more than two installments over a period exceeding one year”.
This wording effectively limits the requirement for spousal consent to installment sales which reveals a fatal flaw or loophole in the protection afforded by the system of joint administration of the joint estate for spouses married in community of property. Most modern property transactions are cash sales secured by mortgage and not installment sale transactions. With reference to reported and unreported cases, this article investigates the loophole and proposes a way in which the devastating effects of the flaw might be mitigated in future cases.