As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.
This is not the first time since Justice Langa’s appointment as Chief Justice that he has not been part of the majority.
During the nine years that Arthur Chaskalson was Chief Justice he hardly ever was on the losing side of a case. Court watchers said that his strong personality and his ability to build consensus helped him to carve out a majority for his position in most cases. He was therefore the leader of the court in every possible way.
Chief Justice Langa is a less forceful personality than Justice Chaskalson and it does not seem as if he has stamped his authority on the court in the same way as his predecessor. Maybe that is a good thing because we will get more debate between judges?
I am intrigued by the question of whether Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke is not emerging as the kingpin of the post-Chaskalson Court. He does have a very strong personality and is an effective manager. I think his opinions will become more important as the Court changes in the next three years.BACK TO TOP