n South African Journal on Human Rights - Transformation : the constitutional promise and reality

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



The Constitution promised a form of social democracy built upon a transformed legal system. While transformation cannot be equated with revolution and hence the complete eradication of existing legal norms and concepts, the constitutional text promised the development of the existing legal system into a body of law which would, as coherently as possible, reflect the core values of the Constitution. This article examines the law of contract, socio economic rights and identity politics in order to evaluate the progress made during the first fifteen years of constitutional democracy. It concludes that, notwithstanding a legal text that sought expressly to guide legal development, the courts have brought about change more at the margin than in the reconstitution of the entire legal system. In particular, the influence of legal culture is found to be a key explanation for this halting jurisprudential progress.

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