Quote of the week

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.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
15 February 2007

"Their spledid eland has waded too far…"

Justice Willis of the Witwatersrand Division of the High Court seemed to have had considerable fun in writing his judgment in INGLEDEW v THEODOSIOU 2006 (5) SA 462 (W). Here are some extracts illustrating his verbal gymnastics. (Thanks to Craig for pointing this out to me):

“[T]he first defendant is what the newspapers would nowadays refer to as a ‘property tycoon’ or a ‘property mogul’ (without in any way intending any disrespect to the Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin which ruled much of India in the 16th to 19th centuries).”

. . . .

“[T]he first defendant made the classic error of ‘imperial overreach’. Like a splendid eland that has waded too far into a water-hole to get the advantage of the best water, he became mired in a bog in which his situation was desperate. The predators were circling.”

. . . . .

“But facts, the significance of which may each be as light as a feather, can accumulate to create a bag so heavy that it can deliver a resounding and even deathly blow. That, in my view, has happened in this case.”

. . . . . .

“In Ex parte Coney , 1952 (3) SA 745 (SR) Quénet J (as he then was) quoted with approval Jelf J in Booth v Walkden Spinning and Manufacturing Co Ltd , [1909] 2 KB 268. in which Jelf J had said:

‘First come first served is one of the necessary axioms of this life of ours.’

With due respect to both Jelf and Quénet JJ, I do not consider this ‘axiom’ to be an axiom at all. It is not a self-evident truth. See, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary . It is, more likely, part of the enduring (and perhaps even endearing) morality of English public schoolboys. But, as anyone who has been a little boy at boarding school will know, it is a less than perfect summary of justice.”

Wonder whether Justice Willis ever attended a boarding school? Hilton? Michealhouse?

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