||Lower Court Judgments
||North Gauteng High Court, 09 Feb. 2012
Supreme Court of Appeal, 15 Mar. 2013
|22 Aug. 2013
||28 Nov. 2013
By Greg Palmer and Duncan Wild on 28 November 2013.
The case concerns whether the President’s power to confer ‘honours’ under section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution includes the power to award ‘senior counsel’ or ‘silk’ status to advocates.
The appellant, Ms Mansingh, is a practising advocate and a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates (“the JSA“). Ms Mansingh successfully sought a declaratory order in the North Gauteng High Court to the effect that section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution does not authorise the President to award ‘senior counsel’ status to advocates.
The General Council of the Bar (“the GCB“) (an affiliation of the ten Societies of Advocates in the country) and the JSA appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (“the SCA“).
Section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution provides as follows:
“Powers and functions of the President:
(1) The President has the powers entrusted by the Constitution and legislation, including those necessary to perform the functions of Head of State and head of the national executive.
(2) The President is responsible for –
. . .
(k) conferring honours.”
The JSA and the GCB took the matter on appeal to the SCA, and the SCA concluded that the power to confer honours bestowed upon the President by section 84(2)(k) of the Constitution included the authority to confer the status of ‘senior counsel’ on practising advocates.
The Constitutional Court, in an unanimous judgment authored by Justice Nkabinde, and in which Mogoeng CJ, Moseneke DCJ, Cameron J, Froneman J, Jafta J, Madlanga J, Mhlantla AJ, Skweyiya J, Van der Westhuizen J and Zondo J concurred, also found that the power of conferring honours was sufficiently broad to include the power conferring senior counsel status, and so dismissed the application. Continue reading