oa De Rebus - Kollig op aansoeke om verlof tot appèl - waarom geen redes deur hoogste howe? : feature
Spotlight on applications for leave to appeal - why no reasons by highest courts?
The small claims court, magistrates' courts, Labour Court and the High Court of South Africa are required by statute to provide motivated reasons for findings and judgments handed down by them.
There are no such obligations on the Supreme Court of Appeal or the Constitutional Court. These courts accordingly do not, as a rule, provide reasons for their decisions in response to applications for leave to appeal.
This situation is unfortunate. The provision of reasons by a judicial officer, inter alia, explains to the parties and to the public at large who have an interest in courts being open and transparent, why the decisions in a case were taken. It is a discipline that curbs arbitrary judicial decisions. It is also contrary to the provisions of s 1 of the Constitution, which requires judges not to act arbitrarily and to be accountable. The manner in which the courts ordinarily account for their decisions is by furnishing reasons.
It is accordingly suggested that the relevant statutes should also make it obligatory for the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal to provide reasons for a decision regarding an application for leave to appeal to these courts.
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