Competition Commission v Pioneer Hi-bred International Inc and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 58/13 Competition Tribunal, 14 Oct. 2011
Competition Appeal Court, 28 May 2012
4 Nov. 2013 18 Dec. 2013  Skwyeyia ADCJ  Unanimous

By Sarah McGibbon and Duncan Wild on 21 December 2013

In November the Constitutional Court will hear an application for leave to appeal against a costs order of the Competition Appeal Court (“CAC“) brought by the Competition Commission (“Commission“).

The Constitutional Court, in a unanimous decision written by Acting Deputy Chief Justice, Skweyiya, found that it was generally undesirable to hinder the good faith performance by the Commission of its functions with the threat of a costs order, and in the absence of reasons for the costs order imposed in this case, the costs order should be set aside. Continue reading

Khumalo and Another v MEC for Education, Kwazulu-Natal

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 10/13 Labour Court, Durban, 6 Jul. 2010
Labour Appeal Court, 29 Aug. 2012
8 Aug. 2013 18 Dec. 2013  Skweyiya J  8-2

By Duncan Wild on 21 December 2013

The case involves whether the promotions of two persons within the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Education (“the Department”) should be set aside as unlawful.

Mr. Khumalo, the first appellant, applied for and was promoted to the position of Chief Personnel Officer in the Department in April 2004.  Mr. Ritchie, the second appellant in this matter, had also applied for the post but was not shortlisted. He challenged the failure to shortlist him before the General Public Servants Sectoral Bargaining Council on the basis he should have been shortlisted as he met all the requirements for the post.  As a result of this process, Mr. Ritchie and the Department entered into a settlement agreement whereby Mr. Ritchie was granted a protected promotion to the post to which Mr. Khumalo had already been promoted, and Mr. Khumalo was allowed to retain his promotion.

The Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court had set aside both promotions, but the Constitutional Court, in a majority judgment written by Justice Skweyiya, ordered that both promotion be upheld. Justice Zondo, concurred in by Justice Jafta, wrote a minority judgment in which he agreed with the result of the majority but for different reasons.  Continue reading

Dengetenge Holdings (Pty) Limited v Southern Sphere Mining and Development Company Limited and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 39/13 North Gauteng High Court, 17 Jun. 2011
Supreme Court of Appeal, 11 Mar. 2013
15 Aug. 2013 13 Dec. 2013  Jafta J  8-3

By Avani Singh and Duncan Wild on 18 December 2013.

After the record had been filed in the matter in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA“), the appeal lapsed for failure by the appellant, Dengetenge Holdings (Pty) Limited (“Dengetenge”), to prosecute it by timeously filing its heads of argument. The issue for determination before the SCA was whether the default should be condoned and the appeal revived.

The majority of the Constitutional Court, in a judgment written by Jafta J, found that leave to appeal should be granted, but that the appeal should be dismissed. Justice Jafta also found, in respect of the High Court judgment, that Dengetenge had not first utilsed the internal appeal before going to the High Court, but that regardless, Dengetenge had conceded in the High Court that the rights were awarded to it unlawfully.  

Continue reading

Ferris and Another v Firstrand Bank Limited and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 52/13 South Gauteng High Court, 5 Oct. 2012 5 Nov. 2013 12 Dec. 2013  Moseneke ACJ  Unanimous

By Duncan Wild on 12 December 2013

The applicants, Destri Ferris and Soraya Ferris, entered a credit agreement with the Firstrand Bank Limited (“Firstrand“). They defaulted on their payments, and applied for debt review under section 86 of the National Credit Act 2005 (“NCA“). The debt counsellor proposed a debt restructuring which Firstrand refused. The matter was referred to the Magistrate’s Court, but then Firstrand terminated the review. Notice was not given to the Magistrate’s Court or the applicants of the termination.  The Magistrate’s Court, being unaware of the termination, ordered a debt restructuring. Firstrand instituted summons against the applicants, and after the applicants attorneys failed to comply with procedural steps in the litigation (without the knowledge of the applicants themselves), a judgment was taken against them in default.

When the applicants became aware of the judgment they applied to have the judgment rescinded, but this was refused. The applicants then appealed to Supreme Court of Appeal but leave to appeal was refused.

The Constitutional Court, in a unanimous judgment by Acting Chief Justice Moseneke (Skweyiya ADCJ, Cameron J, Dambuza AJ, Froneman J, Jafta J, Madlanga J, Mhlantla AJ, Nkabinde J, Van der Westhuizen J and Zondo J), found there was no basis to interfere with the SGHC’s decision. Firstrand was entitled to proceed to enforce the loan agreement under the National Credit Act as the applicants had breached the debt-restructuring order. The requirements for rescission of a judgment were therefore not met.

Download the judgment here.

Minister of Mineral Resources of the Republic of South Africa and Others v Sishen Iron Ore Company (Pty) Limited and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 58/13 North Gauteng High Court, 20 Dec. 2011 SCA, 28 Mar. 2013 5 Sep. 2013 12 Dec. 2013  Jafta J., and Moseneke DCJ  Unanimous

By Duncan Wild on 12 December 2013

Prior the coming into effect of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (“the MPRDA“), the Sishen Iron Ore Company (Pty) Ltd (“SIOC“) and ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited (“ArcelorMittal“) were co-holders of a mining right in respect of iron and quartzite on eight properties of twenty-one properties making up the Sishen mine.  SIOC held 78.6% and ArcelorMittal 21.4% of the right.  This right is referred to an an “old order” mining right, as it was granted under the pre-MPRDA regime. When the MPRDA came into force, ArcelorMittal and SIOC were entitled to convert their old order rights into new order mining rights under the MPRDA, as provided for in the MPRDA’s Transitional Arrangements. There was a five year period in which application needed to be made for the conversion, SIOC converted its right prior to the expiration of this period, but ArcelorMittal did not. After the expiration of the five year period, the Deputy-Director General: Mineral Regulation: Department of Mineral Resources (“Deputy D-G“) purported to grant a prospecting right in respect of iron ore in respect of seven of the eight Sishen properties to Imperial Crown Trading 289 (Pty) Ltd (“ICT“).  The basis this prospecting right was granted was the assumption by the Deputy D-G that as ArcelorMittal had not converted its portion of the mining right. The grant of this right to ICT is the subject of this case. The Constitutional Court found that SIOC could only apply for and be granted the share of the right it had previously held (78.6%), but that only SIOC could apply for the remaining shares, and therefore it was not open to the D-G to any other party. Continue reading

President Nelson Mandela’s Speech at the Inauguration of the Constitutional Court

14 February 1995, Johannesburg

President of the Constitutional Court;
Chief Justice;
Honourable Judges;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentleman.

The last time I appeared in court was to hear whether or not I was going to be sentenced to death. Fortunately for myself and my colleagues we were not. Today I rise not as an accused but, on behalf of behalf of the people of South Africa, to inaugurate a court South Africa has never had, a court on which hinges the future of our democracy.

It is not just a building that we inaugurate, handsome though it is. It is not a body of wise men and women that we launch on their path, important though we regard their work. It is not just our blessings that we give to their work, confident as we are in their integrity and commitment to justice. It is an institution that we establish – South Africa`s first Constitutional Court. Continue reading

Ngewu and Another v Post Office Retirement Fund and Others

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author  Vote
CCT 117/13 Direct Access 7 Nov. 2013 5 Dec. 2013  Madlanga J.  Unanimous

By Duncan Wild

On 7 March 2013, the Constitutional Court delivered judgment in Ngewu and Another v Post Office Retirement Fund and Others (our summary here), in which sections of the Post Office Act 44 of 1958 (“the Post Office Act“) were declared unconstitutional for its failure to incorporate the “clean break” principle. The “clean break” principle means that a divorced spouse can make a “clean break” by claiming their share of the former spouse’s pension interest at the time of the divorce.

The government was given eight months to amend the section, failing which the Constitutional Court provided a draft provision in an annexure to its judgment to be read into the Post Office Act as section 10F that provides for the “clean break” principle.

The Minister of Communications brought an urgent application on 4 November 2013 for an extension of the period for the legislature to amend the Post Office Act. The Minister says that the previous Minister (Ms Dina Pule) failed to table a statutory amendment before Cabinet, and the new Minister needs six more months to conclude the parliamentary process to have the Post Office Act amended.

Ms Ngewu (the original applicant) opposes this application on the basis that the delay has not been adequately explained and that a further delay would cause prejudice, whereas if the Constitutional Court’s order takes effect there will be no harm.

The Constitutional Court dismissed the application for an extension with costs on 6 November 2013, this means the Post Office Act will now be read in accordance with the order of the Court made on 7 March 2013, and will incorporate the clean break mechanism.

In an unanimous judgment authored by Madlanga J the Constitutional Court found that the Minister had not adequately explained the reason for the delay in bringing the application only three days before the period expired, or delay in finalising the amendments. In addition, the Court found that the State would suffer no real prejudice if the reading in took effect. In addition, the previous Minister had agreed to the reading in order, and so was well aware of possibility of the reading in taking effect.

Download the judgment here.