n South African Journal on Human Rights - Standing in the Water Tribunal : access to justice down the plughole?

Volume 30, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Standing is about who the appropriate person is to bring a dispute to court. Broad standing provisions are one of the hallmarks of South Africa's constitutional democracy, and standing provisions in the environmental sector are particularly generous. In this context, the provisions of the National Water Act 36 of 1998 (NWA) which regulate standing before the Water Tribunal, as well as a recent line of decisions by the tribunal applying these provisions, are particularly concerning. Part II of this discussion contextualises the significance of standing provisions in the environmental sector. Part III introduces the relevant provisions of the NWA and discusses the problematic way in which the Water Tribunal has been applying these provisions. A recent High Court decision is discussed in part IV, while in part V, the relevant legislative provisions and their application by the tribunal are critiqued from a constitutional and practical perspective. Finally, part VI looks ahead to how the current problems may be addressed.

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