how-to-become-a-judge-in-south-africa

Have you ever wondered How do you actually Become a Judge in South Africa

As this is the case, it is interesting to look at the ways in which one might become a judge:

Step 1: Study law and become an advocate

Traditionally, before 1994, and still in many cases now, you studied law, went to the bar, and became an advocate. At this point you would be described as a “junior” (The bar is just where advocates work – for most of them, it doesn’t involve an actual bar.)

How to become a Lawyer in South Africa

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Step 2: Become accepted as senior counsel

Then after you had been an advocate for a while, you could be recognized as being hardworking and clever, and you would be made a senior. This is dependent on the kind of work you get, so if you are not getting High Court work, and are only doing Magistrates Courts matters, that would count against you being a “senior”. Senior counsel charge more, and are expected to run trials and opposed matters.

What does a Magistrate do in South Africa

NEGOTIATION AND SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

The NCA provides for negotiations to re-arrange repayment of agreements only in the event of a finding that the consumer is not over-indebted but is experiencing, or is likely to experience, difficulty satisfying all his obligations in time. Nothing prevents the debt counsellor, the consumer and credit providers from entering into negotiations in the case of an over-indebted consumer whose matter has been referred to the court. Such negotiations, however, are not prescribed by the Act, and the content of these mutual agreements are determined by the concerned parties – these are called Settlement Negotiations. A settlement agreement may be confirmed by the Magistrates Court.

THE POWERS (MANDATE) OF THE MAGISTRATE’S COURT

Where the debt counsellor found the consumer to be over-indebted and referred the case to a Magistrates Court, making a recommendation in the form of a proposal, the Magistrate’s Court must conduct a hearing and, having regard to the proposal and information before it and the consumer’s financial means, prospects and obligations, may reject the recommendation or application as the case may be. The Magistrates Court may make an order re-arranging one or more of the consumer’s obligations by extending the repayment period (which reduces the payments due), or by postponing the dates on which payments are due or by extending the period AND postponing dates on which payments are due.

The Magistrates Court should address the over-indebtedness of the consumer. It may accept the recommendation of the debt counsellor or formulate another payment plan. The court may reject the recommendation of the debt counsellor and notwithstanding, proceed to make an order.

RECKLESS CREDIT GRANTED

Where the credit provider failed to conduct an assessment, or where the consumer did not generally understand or appreciate his risk, costs or obligations

The Magistrates Court may make an order declaring any credit agreement to be reckless. If a court declares that a credit agreement is reckless in that the credit provider failed to conduct an assessment, or where the consumer did not generally understand or appreciate his risk, costs or obligations, the Magistrates Court may set aside all or part of the consumer’s rights and obligations under that agreement as the court determines just and reasonable in the circumstances OR suspend the force and effect of that agreement until a date determined by the court when making the order of suspension IF at the time of the court proceedings, the consumer is over-indebted.

Where the credit provider concluded an agreement which made the consumer over-indebted

If a credit provider concluded an agreement which made the consumer over-indebted, the Magistrates Court MUST further consider if the consumer is over-indebted at the time of the court proceedings and may make an order to suspend the force and effect of that agreement until a date determined by the court when making the order. The Magistrates Court may restructure the consumer’s obligations by re-arranging one or more of the consumer’s obligations by extending the repayment period (which reduces the payments due), or by postponing the dates on which payments are due or by extending the period AND postponing dates on which payments are due.

Before making an order where the agreement made the consumer over-indebted, the Magistrates Court MUST consider the consumer’s current means and ability to pay current financial obligations that existed at the time the agreement was made, AND the Magistrates Court must consider the expected date when any such obligation under a credit agreement will be fully satisfied assuming the consumer makes all required payments in accordance with any proposed order.

Step 3: Be asked to be an acting judge

Occasionally, judges need an extra judge to help out in a case – which is when you get a chance to be an acting judge. This gives the Judge President, or the head judge of a particular division, the opportunity to see if you are any good. If you are deemed ‘good’ you will be given the opportunity to be an acting judge for another few terms. (Courts have terms, like school.) In order for candidates to be appointable to the bench, it has become the practice to require acting experience. This is despite the fact that acting experience was not listed as one of the criteria for appointment by the JSC in 2010.

You may well ask if this old fashioned path to the Bench still holds. In fact, a growing percentage of judges come from the magistracy. We put it at no more than 15% at this point, but it is a logical place to draw acting judges from, especially given the more transformed character of the magistracy.

Attorneys are also appointed as acting judges, but their problem is that they may not run their practices while on the bench. For a single practitioner or someone in a small firm this presents enormous obstacles.

Academics are no longer appointed acting judges, which explains in some measure why they are not appointed in the higher courts, like the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. This is the de facto situation, and not de jure. Academics are represented on the JSC, but we have never heard that representative speak up for more academics being appointed as acting judges, or at all.

 

JSC Interviews

After you have gained acting experience, you will usually be encouraged to apply for a position as a judge, and be interviewed by the JSC.

If you get a majority of votes in the JSC, usually 13 votes, then you are selected, and the President will publish your name in the Government Gazette. If you are unable to secure a majority vote then there is no appointment and your application is deemed unsuccessful.  The lack of a nomination is particularly interesting as the courts have recently said that to not make an appointment for a Judge position, when there is a possible candidate available, is irrational. As for those who are seen as fit, proper and appropriately qualified there can be no reason given for not appointing them.

The chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Commission have to distil and record the Commission’s reasons for recommending the candidates selected.The issues discussed in the deliberations are the reasons they put forward.

HOW TO APPLY

The President of the Supreme Court of Appeal or responsible Judge President tells the Commission when a vacancy occurs or will occur in the Supreme Court of Appeal or any provincial or local division of the High Court.

The Commission informs the institutions of the vacancy and calls for nominations by a specified closing date.A nomination takes the form of a letter of nomination which identifies the person making the nomination, the candidate and the division of the High Court for which he or she is nominated, a CV and a questionnaire prepared by the Commission and completed by the candidate.

Once the nominations have been received the “screening committee” prepares a short list of candidates to be interviewed. The “screening committee”, which is a subcommittee of the JSC, is made up of the representatives of the legal profession and the Minister of Justice. After the short list is curated the questionnaires from the candidates are sent to the members of the JSC, who start preparing for the hearings.

Judge salary in South Africa

A Judge, Magistrate Judge, or Magistrate earns an average salary of R679,768 per year.

As much as it would be interesting to find out, we dont have the information on who is the Youngest Judge in South Africa.

Magistrate vacancies in South Africa

List of Judges in South Africa,

Judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal

President: Hon M M L Maya
As on 20 Feb 2018
Deputy President: Hon JBZ Shongwe (Acting)

 

Judges of Appeal: Hon M S Navsa
Hon C H Lewis
Hon V M Ponnan
Hon A Cachalia
Hon L O Bosielo
Hon J B Z Shongwe
Hon L E Leach
Hon Z L L Tshiqi
Hon S A Majiedt
Hon W L Seriti
Hon MJD Wallis
Hon X M Petse
Hon NP Willis
Hon H K Saldulker
Hon K G B Swain
Hon BH Mbha
Hon DH Zondi
Hon N Dambuza
Hon RS Mathopo
Hon CHG Van Der Merwe
Hon BC Mochumie
Acting Judges of Appeal: Hon DM Davis
Hon CM Plasket
Hon D Pillay
Hon T Makgoka
Hon SPB Mothle
Hon OL Rogers
Hon W Hughes
Hon A Schippers

Useful Links

Sources:

http://www.justice.gov.za/vacancies/vacancies.htm