12 September 2022

A Seismic Shift

On 1 September 2022, the Eastern Cape High Court handed down its eagerly anticipated judgment in the case of Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC and Others v Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy and Others (the Shell case). The judgment had the effect of setting aside an exploration right that would have enabled Shell to conduct seismic surveys off South Africa’s coastline, in its search for oil and gas reserves. The judgment has been hailed by social and environmental justice activists alike. Although the case was decided more narrowly on administrative law principles, I argue that the judgment holds greater significance in that it highlights the importance of civil society activism and the crucial role of the judiciary in upholding constitutionally protected social and environmental rights. Continue reading >>
09 Dezember 2021

No Expropriation without Compensation in South-Africa’s Constitution – for the Time Being

This week the Parliament of South Africa voted against amending section 25 of the Constitution to provide for “expropriation without compensation” after four years of contestations. But all is not lost. Land reform has been placed on the public agenda, and the state is under more pressure than ever to ensure that a successful land reform program delivers. Continue reading >>
12 Juli 2021

An Ordinary Result for the Rule of Law

Late on Wednesday 7 July, former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police. He thus just about complied with the Constitutional Court’s judgment on 29 June, which found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment. This is not a victory for the rule of law. It simply is the rule of law. Continue reading >>
11 März 2021

COVID-19 in South Africa: A Year in Review

On 15 March 2020 with only 61 cases and 0 deaths recorded, President Ramaphosa quickly decided that swift action was required and declared a state of disaster. Despite this quick action, South Africa has recorded the highest number of cases in Africa. This post will consider whether its response has been legitimate, proportionate and subject to appropriate judicial oversight. Continue reading >>
26 Juni 2020

“Race” and the Constitution: A South African perspective

For a South African constitutional lawyer, watching from afar, the current debate in Germany on the removal of the word “race” from section 3 of article 3 of the German Basic Law, is perplexing. In the South African context, a similar call would widely be viewed as a regressive step aimed at protecting white privilege and reinforcing the social and economic dominance of the white minority. The South African and German contexts and histories differ, and the word “race” might have different connotations in German than it has in English, but it may nevertheless be of interest to consider why the words “race”, “racial” and “non-racialism” are mentioned in several provisions of the South African Constitution. Continue reading >>
04 Oktober 2018

Open Secrets, Private Freedoms – The South African Constitutional Court Legalizes Marijuana Use in Private

Two weeks ago, the South African Constitutional Court legalized marijuana use under certain circumstances. Apart from its immediate impact, this ruling may signal shifts in the Court’s institutional self-conception. Continue reading >>
30 August 2018

Fighting the Backlash – The South African High Court on the Suspension of the SADC Tribunal

Today, the South African Constitutional Court may have the last word on a case concerning South Africa's suspension of the Southern African Development Community Tribunal. On 1 March 2018, the South African High Court found that this foreign policy decision violated substantive human rights. Even though it is easy to criticize the judgment for its scarce reasoning, the decision entails intriguing ideas for building a more principled foreign relations law in the South African context. Continue reading >>
08 März 2017

South Africa’s Withdrawal from the ICC: The High Court Judgment and its Limits

Domestic legal challenges to the South Africa government’s decision to withdraw from the ICC are underway, and while the first instalment has a distinctly Brexit flavor, it also foreshadows more substantive constitutional arguments to come. Continue reading >>
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