Challenges in administrative justice to be tackled

March 1st, 2012
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By Nomfundo Manyathi

The Administrative Justice Association of South Africa (AdJASA), a voluntary association of lawyers and administrators, combined its launch in January with a workshop on challenges to administrative justice.

AdJASA’s main purpose is to promote knowledge of and interest in administrative justice and to focus on constant monitoring and improvement of the administrative justice system by holding regular meetings nationally and regionally.

AdJASA’s chairperson, professor of public law at the University of Cape Town and former dean of its law faculty, Hugh Corder, told De Rebus that despite the changes in the administrative justice area since 1994, brought about by s 33 of the Constitution (which deals with just administrative action) and the statutory changes in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000, implementation of such laws had not been fully expressed in the practice of government.

Professor Corder added that administrative justice was perhaps one of the most important areas of law in South Africa post-1994, but that it remained underdeveloped, unsystematic and difficult to teach, yet law graduates needed every bit of help they could get to prepare themselves for practice in an increasingly challenging legal environment.

Professor Corder said that AdJASA currently had approximately 70 members and that membership was open to anyone who supported the objects of the association.

The keynote speaker at the workshop was former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, who delivered a speech titled: ‘Without fear, favour or prejudice: The courts, the Constitution and transformation.’

In his address, Justice Chaskalson said that he welcomed the founding of AdJASA as it would provide a forum for discussion of difficult issues that were and continued to be experienced in this branch of the law, adding that it would contribute to the development of the law in a manner consistent with the values of the Constitution.

Justice Chaskalson said that administrative law could not solve all the problems of incompetent or unlawful administration, but that it was an essential safeguard against corruption and for the promotion of good government.

‘Administrative law has developed out of the rule of law, which is one of the founding values of our Constitution. Its purpose is to uphold legality and promote fairness, accountability and transparency in government. These are basic values of good public administration and it is the role of the courts in a democracy to ensure as far as possible that they are respected. If this does not happen, the door to corruption is opened and nothing could pose a greater risk to the transformation demanded by our Constitution than that. That is why democratic governments comply with court orders even if they disagree with them, and why our Constitution demands that organs of state assist and protect the courts to ensure their independence, impartiality, dignity and accessibility,’ he said.

Professor Corder said that AdJASA would hold one national meeting per annum and regional ones as often as needed, adding that he foresees the inaugural national general meeting taking place in Gauteng before August.

Nomfundo Manyathi, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (March) DR 8.

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