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JSC Reschedules Supreme Court of Appeal Interviews After Legal Pressure

Published February 27, 2024
4 months ago

In a turn of judicial proceedings that underscores the importance of the judiciary's accountability, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) of South Africa has committed to conducting interviews for vacancies at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) during May 2024. This development ensues after intense legal advocacy by the nonprofit organization Freedom Under Law (FUL), which brought forth concerns about delays that were seemingly in opposition to a binding high court order.

The urgency of the issue was first brought to light in December 2023 when FUL filed an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. The application's purpose was twofold. The immediate concern addressed by Part A was the JSC's failure to recommend candidates for two remaining SCA vacancies from its October 2023 session. Part B took a broader view, challenging the JSC on procedural grounds, such as the transparency and fairness of its candidate evaluation and interviewing processes.

After considerable negotiation, FUL and the JSC reached a settlement for Part A, formalized by the court on February 14, 2024, necessitating additional interviews within the April/May timeframe. However, on February 20, 2024, in a surprising reversal, the JSC indicated that it could not comply with this schedule, pushing the interviews to June and making a public statement to that effect.

FUL promptly addressed this deviation, citing the JSC's legal binding to the earlier agreement and court order. Although FUL's concerns pointed to a potential defiance of legal commitments by the JSC, their subsequent discourse led to a reaffirmation by the JSC to honor the scheduled May interviews.

While FUL had to confront the possibility of returning to court to enforce Part A of the agreement, their advocacy efforts led to the JSC's adherence to the original order, avoiding further court interventions. Moving forward, FUL remains steadfast in pursuing Part B of the application, seeking an expedited resolution to longer-term issues regarding the JSC's processes.

The JSC's commitment to following through with the May interviews presents a critical juncture ensuring accountability and affirming both the supremacy of the Constitution and adherence to judicial processes. It also stabilizes the procedure for filing the important SCA vacancies, which is essential for the administration of justice. FUL's vigilance and the JSC's compliance ultimately serve to maintain the integrity and reliability of South Africa's judiciary system.

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