Abandoning the Spouse, Abandoning the House? Abandonment of Co-Ownership Shares in Immovable Property [Discussion of M V M (10751/2000) [2020] ZAGPPHC 155 (20 March 2020)]

Author: Richard Cramer

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: BA (Hons) LLB LLM PhD (UCT), Post-doctoral Fellow: DST/NRF SARChI Research Chair: Mineral Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 33 Issue 3, 2022, p. 548 – 559


The case of M v M (10751/2000) [2020] ZAGPPHC 155 (20 March 2020) (“M v M”) is novel in its finding that the abandonment of immovable property is possible in South African law. It is also novel in finding that the requisite intention to abandon a co-ownership share in immovable property could be inferred from the facts of the case. Past case law concerning the abandonment of immovable property always failed to make a finding of abandonment as the requisite intention could never be established. This approach was consistent with our courts’ unwillingness to infer an intention to abandon valuable property in the absence of clear intention to do so. This case note seeks to critique the decision of the court in M v M in light of a legal framework in which the abandonment of landownership does not appear possible given the principle of publicity. It further seeks to ask if there were other avenues available to the court to reach what was an undeniably just outcome on the set of facts before the court.