Why did retired Judge Dennis Davis return to chair the Competition Appeal Court?

Judge Dennis Martin Davis. Picture Gary Van Wyk

Judge Dennis Martin Davis. Picture Gary Van Wyk

Published Dec 3, 2023


In a surprising turn of events, retired Judge Dennis Davis has returned from retirement to chair the Competition Appeal Court, leaving many to question the motives behind this unexpected comeback.

The spotlight intensifies as the court prepares to hear a complex case launched by the Competition Commission in 2017, revolving around allegations of collusion by South African and foreign banks in the New York foreign exchange market from 2007 to 2013.

The case, which alleges a “single overarching conspiracy” to manipulate the rand, has resurfaced, with the banks challenging the Competition Commission to prove that all 28 of them were part of this alleged scheme before proceeding.

The inclusion of several foreign banks with no presence in South Africa, alongside those with local branches and the country’s major domestic banking groups, adds layers of complexity to an already intricate legal battle.

The return of Judge Davis to preside over this case raises eyebrows and prompts a critical examination of the circumstances surrounding his recall. Is this a mere coincidence, or does it hint at a more calculated move?

The timing of his return, coupled with the nature of the accusations against the banks, fuels speculation about the motives behind this decision.

One of the primary concerns is the potential influence of the banking sector in orchestrating Judge Davis’s recall to ensure a favourable outcome for the accused institutions. The accusation of manipulating the rand is a serious charge that could have far-reaching consequences for the implicated banks.

Could the return of Judge Davis be a strategic move to navigate the legal intricacies in favour of the banks?

It’s crucial to acknowledge the need for a fair and impartial legal process. The public has a vested interest in ensuring that justice is served, and any perception of bias or undue influence undermines the integrity of the legal system.

Questions arise about the independence of the judiciary and whether Judge Davis’s connections or affiliations could compromise the objectivity required in such high-profile cases.

Additionally, the intricacies of the case, including the involvement of foreign banks with no local presence, add layers of complexity.

The legal arguments around the “single overarching conspiracy” demand meticulous scrutiny and an astute understanding of international financial dynamics. Judge Davis’s experience and expertise undoubtedly make him a valuable asset, but concerns linger about the potential impact of his past associations or relationships on the case.

As the legal proceedings unfold, it is imperative for all parties involved to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, and justice.

The public deserves a thorough and unbiased examination of the allegations against the banks, free from any external influence that may compromise the integrity of the legal process.

The recall of Judge Davis to chair the Competition Appeal Court in the midst of the ongoing foreign exchange manipulation influences behind this decision case sparks legitimate questions about the motives.

As the legal proceedings continue, it is essential for the judiciary and legal practitioners to reassure the public of the impartiality and fairness of the process, ensuring that justice prevails regardless of the outcome.

* Adri Senekal de Wet is executive editor of Business Report

Sunday Independent