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SA must appoint competent judges
2009-05-08

 

At the inaugural lecture are, from the left: Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, Judge Farlam and Prof. Johan Henning, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the UFS.

Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ian Farlam has called on the South African government to appoint and continue to appoint competent, fair and experienced judicial officers to sit in the country’s courts.

He also emphasised the need to have an efficient and highly respected appellate division, which rightly enjoys the confidence of all.

Judge Farlam was speaking at the University of the Free State (UFS) where he delivered his inaugural lecture as Extraordinary Professor in Roman Law, Legal History and Comparative Law in the Faculty of Law.

He said there were important lessons that emanated from the study of legal history in the Free State, particularly including the lesson that there were courageous jurists who spoke up for what they believed to be right, and a legislature who listened and did the right thing when required.

“This is part of our South African heritage which is largely forgotten – even by those whose predecessors were directly responsible for it. It is something which they and the rest of us can remember with pride,” Judge Farlam said.

Addressing the topic, Cox and Constitutionalism: Aspects of Free State Legal History, Judge Farlam used the murder trial of Charles Cox, who was accused of killing his wife and both daughters, to illustrate several key points of legal history.

Cox was eventually found guilty and executed, however, the trial caused a deep rift between the Afrikaans and English speaking communities in the Free State.

Judge Farlam also emphasised that the Free State Constitution embodied the principle of constitutionalism, with the result that the Free State was a state where the Constitution and not the legislature was sovereign. He said it was unfortunate that this valuable principle was eliminated in the Free State after the Boer War and said that it took 94 years before it was reinstated.

Judge Farlam added, “Who knows what suffering and tragedy might not have been avoided if, instead of the Westminster system, which was patently unsuited to South African conditions, we had gone into Union in 1910 with what one can describe as the better Trekker tradition, the tradition of constitutionalism that the wise burghers of the Free State chose in 1854 to take over into their Constitution from what we would call today the constitutional best practice of their time?”

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison 
Tel: 051 401 2584 
Cell: 083 645 2454 
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
8 May 2009
             

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