Judges unleash full wrath on ‘unfounded’ claims of bias

2011-05-26 07:08

The Constitutional Court this week severely penalised a Joburg businessman for questioning the objectivity of five Appeal Court judges.

Brian de Lacy asked the court to overturn a 2009 Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment relating to a 2002 bidding process for a Post Office contract which he and partner Barry Beadon had lost.

De Lacy approached the constitutional court after the SCA judges overturned a 2008 Joburg High Court judgment which found that the tender had been subject to corrupt behaviour by Post Office employees.

The high court also awarded damages of R60 million to De Lacy and Beadon, but their fortune was short lived.

When the Post Office appealed the judgment, the SCA judges ruled that fraud in the tender process had not been proven.

De Lacy and Beadon not only approached the Constitutional Court, arguing that the SCA judgment had 114 factual mistakes which gave rise to an apprehension of bias.

They also approached the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) complaining that the SCA judges made themselves guilty of gross incompetence and gross misconduct by making adverse factual findings against them.

The JSC dismissed the complaint.

This week’s constitutional court judgment, penned by Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, deals harshly with the two men.

The court ruled that the accusation of deliberate bias and judicial dishonesty and the complaint of apprehension of bias were without foundation and thus lacked any prospect of success.

Not only did the applicants fail to establish close to 114 errors in the SCA judgment, according to the Constitutional Court, they also failed to show that an error was made that would found a reasonable apprehension of bias.

The Court not only dismissed Beadon and Lacy’s application, but also ordered them to cover both their own as well as the Post Office’s legal costs on a punitive cost scale.

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