Independence and Accountability of the South African Judiciary

  • Francois VenterEmail author
Part of the European Yearbook of Constitutional Law book series (EYCL, volume 1)


The history of the South African judiciary reaches back over centuries to colonial times. Until 1994, South African courts did not have clear or influential constitutional jurisdiction. The constitutional renewal of the country in the early 1990s brought about dramatic changes in the structure, operation and constitutional influence of the courts. The newly established Constitutional Court has played a particularly important role in this process that amounted to the reconfiguration of the legal order as a whole. The constitutional work of the courts has not been free of challenges, including political interference or attempts at such interference and non-compliance with adverse judgments against state institutions. The judiciary needed to establish new principles of adjudication and accountability, in the process developing constitutional doctrine regarding essential elements such as the separation of powers, the rule of law and constitutionalism. Not surprisingly, progress has not always been smooth, but much has been achieved. In fact, the role of constitutional adjudication in the concretisation of South African constitutionalism can hardly be underestimated, but it seems likely that the challenges to the independence of the judiciary will increase, rather than abate.


accountability Constitutional Court of South Africa constitutionalism corruption rule of law separation of powers transformation 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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