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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 November 2007
JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION
Acting Chairperson: Ms F Chohan (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill [B 50 - 2007] (As adopted by this Committee)
Working draft of Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill
Memorandum on Objects of Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill
Motion of Desirability
Audio recording of meeting
The Department of Justice legal drafters took the Committee through the latest working draft of the Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill showing incorporation of the changes that had been proposed at the previous meeting on the Bill. The changes were mostly of a technical nature. The Chairperson suggested also that Section 11(2) should read ‘in consultation with’ and not ‘acting after consultation with’ made in the meeting. The Motion for Desirability of the Bill and the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill were both passed unanimously.
Mr Johan De Lange (Director Legislation, DOJ) highlighted the latest amendments made in the current working draft of the Bill. He hinted that the amendments were mainly technical and not substantive. The major highlights were:
- Members unanimously agreed that option (c) of Section 9(2) be deleted.
- The word ‘chairperson’ was substituted for the words ‘Chief Justice’ in Section 18(2)(b)
- The word ‘may’ was substituted for the word ‘must’ in Section 25(1).
Mr De Lange also presented the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill. The principal objects of the Bill are to amend the Judicial Service Commission Act 1994:
- so as to establish a Judicial Conduct Committee to receive and deal with complaints about judges;
- to provide that a judge may not hold any other office of profit or receive payment for any service that is not payable to him or her in his or her capacity as a judge, subject to certain - exceptions;
- to provide for a Code of Judicial Conduct which serves as the prevailing standard of judicial conduct which judges must adhere to;
- to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a register of judges’ registrable interests;
- to provide for procedures for dealing with complaints about judges;
- to provide for the establishment of Judicial Conduct Tribunals to inquire into any report on allegations of incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct against judges; and
- to provide for matters connected therewith.
Mr De Lange asked the Committee to adopt the Memorandum as presented.
Dr J Delport (DA) proposed an amendment to Section 11(2) that would allow discharged judges to engage in judicial/quasi judicial services or legal research, publication and education, for financial gain after having informed the Chief Justice in writing.
Mr J Jeffrey (ANC) stated that he agreed that discharged judges should be involved in legal research and other educational activities. However there was no reason why they should be paid for engaging in such activities.
Mr B Magwanishe (ANC) stated that the ANC caucus had already given its support to Section 11 as it stood and would therefore not support Dr Delport’s proposed amendment. He stated that the amendment would completely change the section and make it of no consequence.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) stated that he was in support of the proposed amendment to Section 11.
Dr Delport’s proposed amendment was voted against by the Committee.
The Chair noted that the potential for conflict of interest by judges was very high. She suggested that focus should be on the long-term implications of the section. She wondered whether Section 11(2) should read ‘in consultation with’ and not ‘acting after consultation with’.
The Chair read the motion of Desirability of the Bill and it was unanimously adopted by the Committee. The Committee also unanimously adopted the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill as presented by Mr De Lange.
The meeting was adjourned.
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