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Judiciary governance structure mooted

Written by: Derrick Spies
Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A judiciary governance structure controlled by the chief justice is proposed in the ANC’s policy discussion documents released on Monday.

“There is currently no integrated judicial governance framework under the command of the chief justice for the effective management of judicial functions which instil accountability required by the Constitution,” the ANC said in the paper on peace and stability.

“Ad hoc governance structures which have no legislative basis and lack the necessary legal competence to carry out and governance responsibility continue to exist at the different hierarchy of the courts.”

The role and powers of the judicial governance structure and those of the minister of justice and constitutional development would be considered.

This was in terms of policy formulation of certain aspects of the administration of justice.

The oversight role of Parliament in relation to courts and judiciary policy would also be discussed.

“This area constitutes the nucleus of the South African model of separation of powers which would require an intelligible reflection in the final policy framework and the legislation that will be promoted through Cabinet to give effect to the desired policy.”

In the policy document, the ANC also discusses the establishment of a court administration system in the form of an agency or body.

This needed to be integrated into the judicial governance framework.

A number principles will apply to the administration body.

It will have administrative autonomy, but would be functionally answerable to the judiciary and account for its budget and performance to Parliament.

This would be done through the administration system’s CEO.

The legislation on the system would define the relationship between the ministry and the department of justice.

The head of the administrative body would be appointed by the chief justice, president or the minister.

Clear policy was needed on the impact of the court administration on rule-making, the ANC said in the document.

“The power to make rules of court relating to case management should reside with the judiciary and the rules must be approved by Parliament. rules relating to matters which impact on public policy should be approved by the minister and parliament,” it said.

The ANC said in the paper that the transformation of the judiciary was a Constitutional imperative.

“Therefore, the judicial reform initiatives seeking to provide for an independent judicial governance and court administration system must advance access to justice and respect for the rule of law.”