While SA lawyers and politicians argue over the best way forward for the legal profession, a similar debate has emerged in the Lesotho courts. Earlier this year, an advocate practising there approached the High Court’s constitutional division to complain that restrictions on advocates resulted in grave injustice.
The law and rules of court placed “unfair restrictions on an advocate which limits the advocate’s right to practise his or her profession”, said Matsaseng Ralekoala.
In the context I’m about to use it, there’s nothing sweet about the name “Tofie”, but it’s sure to be used with some satisfaction by courts in years to come. On January 8, 2010, Ebrahim Tofie twice raped a 15-year-old girl. After conviction he was sentenced to 10 years on each count with the sentences running consecutively – an effective term of 20 years.
When Tofie appealed, his conviction was confirmed and his punishment replaced with two life sentences.
THIS is the story of how a legal lobby group can make a difference – of interventions by the Centre for Child Law in two high-profile Constitutional Court cases, and the difference these interventions have made.
When the highest court delivered judgment in the case of Van der Burg against the national director of public prosecutions (NDDP) last week, media coverage told how Hilda and Edward van der Burg would lose their home.
WE add more than a dollop of controversy to judicial appointments in SA, and the body that interviews and recommends candidates has more than once been scolded by the courts.
But we’re not the only ones with problems. This week I read a fascinating judgment from the constitutional court of the Seychelles that dealt with a disputed judicial appointment and concluded by making an extraordinary order setting aside a judge’s official appointment.
Several judicial officers were klapped by the Supreme Court of Appeal in decisions delivered late last term: over just five days, at least eight sharp criticisms were handed down to other judges, magistrates – and a retired judge.
Of course an appeal court considers whether the presiding officer in the previous court was right or wrong – that’s the point. But usually a higher court will say something bland, such as “We disagree”, or “This is not the only conclusion that can be reached”. But there are times – notable exceptions – when the court strongly criticises the original decision or the way in which it was reached. So what pushes appeal judges to klap the presiding officer in a lower court? Let’s start with something easy: how the accused person is addressed.