Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
19 January 2011

24 January in Cape Town: SA, Germany and the living Constitution

The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany would like to draw the attention of the Cape Town legal community to a public panel discussion on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 6.30 at 6, Spin Street (Idasa Building), Dakar-Room.

21 and 15 Years on: to what extent can Germans and South Africans enjoy their respective „living“ Constitutions?

The 1949 German Grundgesetz (Basic Law) which was amended after German unity in 1990 and the 1996 South African constitution both marked the onset of genuine democracy.

Henceforth, the executive, legislative and the legal arms of the state recognize the supremacy of the rule of law as embodied by the respective written constitutions. Nevertheless, a constitution is not a „dead body“ but lives through its daily implementation and the interpretation provided by the Constitional Court. Individual citizens and the public in general view a constitution as a protection of basic rights and expect legislation and executive decisions alike to take into account their actual situation in society.

The panelists will discuss whether the constitutional practice in both countries is living up to this challenge, bringing the constitution in line with current developments and problems in society as a whole.

They include

Justice (ret.) Pius Langa, former President of the South African Constitutional Court

Roelf Meyer, former Minister of Constitutional Affairs (1992 to 1996) and chief negotiator at Kempton Park

Professor Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Federal Minister of Justice and Member of the Bundestag (Federal Parliament), honorary professor at the Free University of Berlin

Professor em. Hans-Peter Schneider, founding director of the German Institute of Research in Federalism, Hannover, and member of the Constitutional Court of several German Federal States (Bundesländer).

Moderator: Jaco Barnard-Naudé, associate professor, University of Cape Town

Following the discussion refreshments will be served.

Please pass on this information.

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