MPs finalise Constitutional amendment

2012-11-16 06:58

Lawmakers finalised the Constitution 17th Amendment Bill after agreeing to extend the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court to hear any matter that it deems to raise an arguable point of law in the public interest.

“The increased jurisdiction confirms that the Constitutional Court is the highest court in the land,” Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice said yesterday in the report it adopted to table to the National Assembly, where the bill is expected to be passed on Tuesday.

The bill simultaneously restricts the power of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) by retracting its jurisdiction to review decisions of the Labour Appeals Court and the Competition Appeal Court, in line with existing labour legislation.

This particular amendment, which changes section 168 of the Constitution, was agreed after considerable debate among members of the committee and a submission from the judges of the SCA that it was unnecessary.

MPs argued that it was necessary to remove labour and competition appeals from the court because the current system allowed cases to be dragged out with potentially dire economic consequences.

However, opposition MPs raised concerns that the wording of the amendment might be unconstitutional in that it allows the jurisdiction of the SCA to be curtailed by an act of Parliament.

In the end, they agreed on a narrowly-worded amendment which stated this to be the case “in respect of labour and competition matters to such extent as may be determined by an act of Parliament”.

The bill is intended to settle the apex court debate which ensued after the creation of the Constitutional Court.

But ruling party MPS conceded that they had adopted a conservative approach which still sought to define the scope of the Constitutional Court in law and to largely preserve the special status of the SCA as the Bench that hears high court appeals.

Doing otherwise would effectively have “collapsed” the SCA, they said.

Legal experts argued in public hearings last year that such a step would not be wise, and said the special expertise of the SCA should be retained and the Constitutional Court allowed to focus on developing constitutional law.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.