Unmarried partners in committed relationships recently received protection from the Gauteng High Court which turned the common law on its head by deciding that an unmarried surviving partner may lodge claims for loss of support and maintenance against the Road Accident Fund.
Previously, unmarried partners who had not contracted under a cohabitation agreement had no such claim and were left without legal recourse in matters concerning maintenance and loss of support.
In acknowledging that “cohabitation outside a formal marriage and, dare I say, even where one of the parties is still married, is now widely practiced and accepted by many communities” the court recognised its crucial role in developing the common law considering an ever-changing society.
This judgement provides those living in similar situations with clarity regarding their legal position.
Whilst acknowledging that marriage remains an important pillar of society, the court accepted that relationships creating and maintaining reciprocal duties of support deserve legal recognition.
Jacobs v Road Accident Fund (21427/2017)  ZAGPPHC 830