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Court case on alter ego trust – Osborne v Cockin NO & Others [2018] ZASCA 58

Osborne v Cockin NO & Others [2018] ZASCA 58
In a recent Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) judgement, the court held that mere allegations that a person used a trust as his alter ego will not suffice in an application for the sequestration of a trust.

The appellant was not satisfied with a similar judgement by the Eastern Cape High Court (Alkema J).  The appellant entered into a contract with the late Shaun Cockin to let the appellant’s cattle graze on farms owned and leased by Cockin.  Cockin was a cattle dealer and speculator, who committed suicide.  At the time of his death, some of the appellant’s cattle was nowhere to be found.

The appellant launched an application for the provisional sequestration of the Cockin Trust, which the appellant alleged was just Cockin’s alter ego.  On the return date, the Eastern Cape High Court refused to make the order final, the decision against which the appellant lodged his appeal to the SCA.

Cockin operated his speculation and trading business totally separately from the trust, and he was not one of the trustees.  Apart from three head of cattle that was found on the trust’s land and for which there was a credible explanation, the appellant had no evidence to show that Cockin abused the trust or used it as his alter ego.  The appeal was dismissed with costs.

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