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A Dodson

Capacity: Advocate

Date appointed: Admitted as an advocate in 2001 (senior counsel 2011)

First appointed as a judge: 1995 – 2000 (limited term, Land Claims Court)

Gender:  Male

Ethnicity: White

Date of Birth: 11 July 1960

Key judgments:

  • FNM v The Refugee Appeal Board (71738/2016) [2018] ZAGPPHC 532; [2018] 4 ALL SA 228 (GP); 2019 (1) SA 468 (GP) (12 JULY 2018)
  • Ashanti Wine And Country Estate (Pty) Limited v Smith (LCC245/2016, LCC251/2016, LCC246/2016, LCC252/2016, LCC236/2016, LCC253/2016) [2017] ZALCC 8; [2017] 3 ALL SA 709 (LCC) (28 FEBRUARY 2017)
  • Umso Construction (Pty) Limited v City Of Johannesburg And Another (2018/17263) [2018] ZAGPJHC 522; [2018] 4 ALL SA 507 (GJ) (31 MAY 2018)
  • Airports Company South Africa Limited v Airport Bookshops (Pty) Ltd T/A Exclusive Books (31580/2014) [2015] ZAGPJHC 154; 2016 (1) SA 473 (GJ); [2015] 3 ALL SA 561 (GJ) (3 JULY 2015)


Candidate Bio:

In a 2000 interview for the Legal Resources Centre Oral History Project Advocate Alan Dodson SC observed that South Africa’s relatively new Constitutional Court “proved to be a highly successful court, it’s proved a willingness to be innovative, it’s proved a willingness to be open to listen to cases that are brought by poor and disempowered people, it hasn’t developed a jurisdiction which has the effect of excluding people who lack resources. So, it’s also, and also very importantly it’s made the development of its socio-economic rights jurisprudence a very important part of its work. And it’s gone about it in a careful and creative way.”

Whether Dodson will be able to step into the green robes of his predecessors of a court he has open admiration for will be decided when he is interviewed in April 2021.

Dodson has experience in adjudicating a wide range of matters during several acting stints in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg Division), from civil and political rights to commercial law issues.

In the 2018 high court matter of FNM v The Refugee Appeal Board and Others, the applicant, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sought to review a decision of the Refugee Appeal Board (RAB) which upheld the rejection of his claim for refugee status.

The applicant claimed he was forcefully conscripted into the DRC army and was captured by rebels following his desertion. He claimed that he would be punished for desertion if he retuned to the DRC. The Appeal Board thought otherwise.

Dodson found the Board had acted in a procedurally unfair manner in placing the burden of proof on the applicant, and making “no reference to the required inquisitorial and facilitative approach.”

He further found that, before relying on new country of origin information, the board should have obtained a response from the applicant to the information, but had failed to do so. It had also failed to consider section 3(a) of the Refugees Act, relating to fear of persecution and disruption of public order, as a basis for refugee status.

Dodson held that the RAB had made “no attempt to conduct any rational analysis of the country of origin information as against the provisions of section 3(b) and the applicant’s particular circumstances. The RAB jumped to a conclusion” without establishing how safe to was for the applicant to return to the DRC.

The board’s decision was set aside and Dodson found that the applicant qualified for refugee status. He went further to hold that the “serious delays in the decision-making process” reflected “incompetence” on the board’s part.

“The quality of its written decision is poor. It is internally contradictory, unclear, indicative of a lack of understanding of the governing legislation and lacking in reasoned analysis of the information available to it. This should not be the case when the RAB is meant to represent the apex of the administrative decision-making process.” An order of substitution was granted, declaring that the applicant qualified as a refugee.

In the 2017 Land Claims Court matter of Ashanti Wine and Country Estate (Pty) Ltd v Smith and Others Dodson dealt with an appeal against a Magistrates’ Court’s dismissal of eviction applications brought under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA).

The respondents had occupied cottages on a wine farm in terms of their employment, which was lawfully terminated.

Dodson (with Canca AJ concurring) considered the requirements for termination of the right of residence under ESTA and whether the termination of the rights of residence was just and equitable.

He held that, “[g]iven the particular hardships for the respondents that would flow from an eviction”, there ought to have been an effective opportunity to make representations before the decision was taken to terminate their right of residence.

He found that the wine farm owners had failed to provide sufficient information to allow the court to assess whether there had been an effective opportunity to make representations. They had also failed to prove that a fair procedure had been followed in terminating the right of residence, he found.

Dodson concluded that while “the magistrate’s reasoning was flawed in several respects”, the order dismissing the application had been correctly made.

In dismissing the appeal, Dodson encouraged “the parties, along with the municipality and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, [to] actively continue to seek a long term solution to the problem of the respondents’ accommodation as well as the problem relating to sanitation.”

Dodson spent five years as a judge at the Land Claims Court (1995-2000) and also acted at the Labour Court. From 2000-2007 he served as chairperson of the United Nations Housing and Property Claims Commission. He is currently the chairperson of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors Disciplinary Committee — a position he has held for a decade — and a member of the Minister of Justice’s Reference Group on Land Restitution.

A member of the Johannesburg Bar since 2001, Dodson was conferred silk in 2011. His lawyering experience included a two year stint as the director of litigation at the Legal Resource Centre (2004-2006).

Born on 10 July 1960, Dodson completed his BComm (1982) and LLB (cum laude) in 1984 at the University of KwaZulu–Natal. He obtained his LLM from the University of Cambridge (1988) and a post–graduate Diploma in Tax Law from the University of Cape Town (1992).