n Annual Survey of South African Law - Civil and constitutional procedure and jurisdiction

Volume 2013, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0376-4605



Of particular importance to civil procedure is the ConstitutionSeventeenth Amendment Act, 2012, assented to on 1 February2013 (GN 72 36128 of 1 February 2013). This Act amends the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, to: further define the role of the Chief Justice as head of the judiciary with the responsibility to establish and monitor norms and standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of all courts (s 1); amends s 166 of the Constitution to provide for a single High Court of South Africa (s 2); amends s 167 of the Constitution to elevate the Constitutional Court to the apex court in all matters (not only constitutional matters (s 3); and regulates the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Appeal (s 5). Consequently, an appeal in non-constitutional matters may now be heard by the Constitutional Court if this court grants leave to appeal on the ground that 'the matter raises an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered' by the Constitutional Court (s 167(3)(iii) of the Constitution). In contrast, the Supreme Court of Appeal may decide only appeals and issues connected with appeals (and any matter referred to it in terms of legislation) in any matter arising from the High Court or a court of similar status, except in respect of labour and competition matters. The final appeal, therefore, no longer lies with the Supreme Court of Appeal which court now has only intermediate appeal powers (s 4, amending s 168 of the Constitution).

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