29 August 2018


On 30 August 2018, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will appear at the Constitutional Court on behalf of Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) in the matter of Law Society of South Africa and others v The President of the Republic of South Africa and others, when it will hear arguments on the issue of the President’s participation in the suspension of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal. 


This case was initiated by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), in which South Africa’s former President’s conduct was challenged; specifically in relation to the suspension of the SADC Tribunal in 2011 as well as his further participation in the adoption of a new SADC Tribunal Protocol which removed the rights of citizens to petition the tribunal for legal redress in 2014.


LHR represent SALC who have been admitted as amicus curiae in the matter. SALC intends to argue that the President’s conduct constitutes a violation of the South African Constitution’s guarantee to South African citizens to access to justice which includes justice at a domestic, regional and international level. SALC will argue further that the rights of citizens were infringed without following due process of law including parliamentary consultations. The case will be important in setting out the proper exercise of Executive power on the international stage in terms of the Constitution.


When the matter was heard in the Gauteng Provincial Division of the High Court in Pretoria on 1 March 2018, that court held that the actions suspending the Tribunal clearly impeded the rights of persons to lodge disputes at the tribunal and could not be rationally connected to the purpose of the SADC Treaty. The Court finally concluded that the President’s participation in the suspension of the Tribunal in 2011 and signing the 2014 Protocol were unlawful, irrational and unconstitutional. This is the decision that has been referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation on Thursday, 30 August 2018. The court will also hear an appeal by the State seeking to overturn the High Court decision that the President’s action in signing the 2014 Protocol. The State argues that the President’s signature did not have any legal effect of binding South Africa to a new protocol and therefore no rights were affected. The State is not appealing the High Court’s finding that the President’s participation in the suspension of the Tribunal was unconstitutional.


For further details on the case, please see:

Wayne Ncube , Head of Strategic Litigation Programme on 011 339 1960


Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826