Mercantile Law Teaching, Learning and Internationalisation UPdate
The Department is unique in that it is the only department in the Faculty that provides tuition to law students and students from various other Faculties. Lecturers teach courses to the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Built Environment and Information Technology.
In addition to teaching on a vast number of degrees, the Department of Mercantile Law has been at the forefront of teaching and learning innovation for the past couple of years. The University of Pretoria Faculty of Law Teaching Award for 2017 was awarded to Dr Carika Fritz. Prof Monray Botha and Prof Hermie Coetzee presented on online assessments in law at the Alternative Assessment Seminar hosted by the University of Pretoria on 5 May 2017. Numerous lecturers in this Department have been voted as the Lecturer of the Year in their respective year groups. For 2018 these honours were conferred on Prof Stéfan Renke (Second Year Afrikaans Group) and Dr Tronel Joubert (Third Year Afrikaans Group).
Members of the department have authored student textbooks such as Business Law (Prof Chris Nagel, Prof Jacolien Barnard, Dr Tronel Joubert, Prof Johan Lötz, Ms Tebogo Morajane, Prof Stéfan Renke, Prof Melanie Roestoff and Prof Stefan van Eck) and Commercial Law (Prof Jacolien Barnard, Prof Piet Delport, Prof Johan Lötz, Ms Sylvia Papadopoulos, Prof Melanie Roestoff and Prof Stefan van Eck).
On master’s level the following course-work LLM programs are offered: Mercantile Law, Banking Law, Consumer Protection Law, Insolvency Law, Labour Law, Tax Law and Corporate Law. Special mention must be made of the LLM in Corporate Law presented by Prof Piet Delport that was ranked best in South Africa and Africa by Eduniversal's Best Masters for a number of years. A new Master’s program themed ‘Insurance law and Governance’ was introduced and be presented in 2019.
As 16 of the 22 members of Mercantile Law hold doctorates, the department has the capacity to supervise doctoral students in almost all areas of Mercantile Law.
The Department of Mercantile Law is extremely proud of its eight National Research Foundation rated researchers. They are: Prof Corlia van Heerden (C1); Prof Hermie Coetzee (C1); Prof Stefan van Eck (C2); Prof Stéfan Renke (C2); Prof Jacolien Barnard (C2); Prof Monray Botha (C2); Prof Reghard Brits (C2) and Prof Femida Cassim (Y2).
A few prominent publications authored or co-authored by members of the department include: Henochsberg by Prof Piet Delport, Bertelsmann et al Mars The Law of Insolvency co-authored by Prof Melanie Roestoff, The new derivative action under the Companies Act by Prof Femida Cassim, Yeats et al Commentary on the Companies Act (2018) of which a chapter was contributed to by Prof Femida Cassim, Cyberlaw @ SA III: The Law of the Internet in South Africa by Ms Sylvia Papadopoulos and Scholtz et al Guide to the National Credit Act of which chapters are authored by Prof Corlia van Heerden and Prof Stéfan Renke. In addition, Prof Reghard Brits was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarly Book Award of 2017 for his book titled Real Security Law.
The research contributions of the department enjoy recognition amongst other academics and the courts. In Jordaan v City of Tshwane  ZACC 31 (29 August 2017) the Constitutional Court referred to the work of Prof Reghard Brits. Prof Femida Cassim’s work has been referred to in the High Court decisions of Mbethe v United Manganese of Kalahari (Pty) Ltd 2016 (5) SA 414 (GJ); Lewis Group Ltd v Woollam 2017 (2) SA 547 (WCC); Justpoint Nominees (Pty) Ltd v Sovereign Food Investments Limited (878/16)  ZAECPEHC; Nedbank Limited v Spannenberg 2014 ZAWCHC; Count Gotthard SA Pilati v Witfontein Game Farm (Pty) Ltd  ZAGPHC 12; Peel v Hamon J&C Engineering (Pty) Ltd 2013 (2) SA 331 (GSJ); Alliance Mining Corporation Ltd v De Kock  ZAGPJHC 10 and in the Supreme Court of Appeal decisions of Grancy Property Ltd v Manala  ZASCA 57; Communicare v Khan  ZASCA 180.
In January 2019, Prof Hermie Coetzee was appointed as a member of the advisory committee for the South African Law Reform Commission on the review of administration orders (project 127). Ms Sylvia Papadopoulos has advised the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on certain aspects of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013.
Thirty-three articles authored by members in the department was published in accredited peer-reviewed journals in 2018.
Other research activities in the department include the convening the University of Pretoria International Consumer Law Conference (UPICLC), work done by the Centre for Insolvency, Labour and Company Law (CILC) who is housed in the department and research conducted with its main research focus areas Insolvency Law, Labour Law and Company Law and work done by and under Prof Corlia van Heerden as the incumbent of the Absa Chair in Banking Law in Africa.
The department is extremely proud of Prof Chris Nagel, the editor of the Tydskrif vir Hedendaagse Romeinse Hollandse Reg (Journal for Contemporary Roman Dutch Law), who ensures that every volume of this journal is published on time.
Further evidence of the significance of the department’s research is the fact that several colleagues were able to secure funding to finalise their doctoral studies. The aforementioned funding includes inter alia National Research Fund grants [Dr Carika Fritz (neé Keulder), Ms Tebogo Morajane, Ms Jacqueline Church, and Ms Yolandi Springveldt] and the Vice-Chancellor’s Academic Development Programme (Ms Tebogo Morojane, Ms Jacqueline Church, Dr Tronel Joubert and Ms Kamalesh Newaj).
The bi-annual University of Pretoria International Consumer Law Conference (UPICLC) attracts papers from around the globe as the previous conference in 2018 boasted papers from Australia, Denmark, Poland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Prof Barnard presented a paper co-authored with Prof Emilia Miscenic from the University of Rijeka in Croatia. In addition, non-academics included delegates from the National Credit Regulator and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority.
Prof Hermie Coetzee and Prof Melanie Roestoff were approached by the International Insolvency Review to contribute to a special issue on NINA (No Income No Asset) debtors.
The members of the department also co-author with international authors. For instance, Prof Piet Delport has co-authored articles and books Prof Irene-Marie Esser from the University of Glasgow, Scotland (visiting professor Open University, United Kingdom) and one with Prof Jean Du Plessis from Deakin University, Australia.
Furthermore, Prof Manfred Weiss from the Goethe University, Germany, Prof Nikita Lyutov of the Kutafin Moscow State Law University, Russia and Prof Ter Haar from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands have presented lectures on the LLM module on International Labour Law.
The presence of the department can be observed in several international organisations. Prof Hermie Coetzee acted as a core reviewer of the “Report on the Treatment of Insolvency of Natural Persons” 2012 that was commissioned by the World Bank through the Legal Vice-Presidency - Working Group of the Insolvency Law Task Force, whilst Prof Stéfan van Eck has been appointed as the Chair of the African Labour Law Society which has members from 14 African Countries as well as the Vice President (African Region), on the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law. Ms Sylvia Papadopoulos is the current chair of the New Technologies and the Law Working Group for the prestigious Law Schools Global League and has also made a submission to United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) 51st session New York, 18 to 22 May 2015 on the Draft Electronic Transferable Records Model Law.
In 2018, Prof Stéfan Renke presented a lecture on credit law to master’s students at Ghent University in Belgium. Prof Corlia van Heerden was selected to serve as the South African Research Chair of the IVZW Tidjschrift voor Privaatrecht for the period 2018/19 at Ghent University in Belgium. Prof Jacolien Barnard and Prof Stéfan Renke are members of the International Association of Consumer Law, whilst Prof Reghard Brits is a member of Insolvency International.