An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
The Inaugural lecture by Professor Wouter de Vos: Is a Class Action a ‘Classy Act’ to Implement outside the Ambit of the Constitution?
July 31st: OT Moot Ct, Kramer: 17h30 and afterwards for refreshments
In his paper Professor de Vos first gives a brief overview of the leading foreign jurisdictions in the field of class actions. Thereafter he analyses the present legal position in South Africa with reference to the constitutional provision and the leading cases dealing with class actions. He concludes with an appeal to government to follow the leaders in this area and to adopt comprehensive legislation regulating this complex procedure. It is arguable that the courts can entertain and develop class actions by virtue of their inherent jurisdiction but such an approach is not supported because it would not lead to uniformity and certainty.
Wouter de Vos (BA LLB LLM LLD (RAU)) was admitted as an advocate in 1978 and practised at the Johannesburg Bar for three years. Over the next 27 years he lectured at UJ, US, and Rhodes and he joined the Department of Public Law at UCT in 2009 where he teaches Law of Evidence and Criminal and Civil Procedure. He is the author of over 40 articles.BACK TO TOP