Enter your keyword

Judge Brad Wanless

Advocate Wanless - JSC Interviews - October 2019

Admitted: October 2023
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth: June 1962
Qualifications:  BA, LLB, Dip. (Maritime Law) (UKZN)

Key judgments:

Candidate Bio:

Durban-based Advocate Brad Wanless SC has curiously spent several stints acting at the Gauteng Division of the High Court since 2015.

This was an issue taken up with him during his October 2019, April 2021, and October 2021 interviews with the JSC.

His response was that he had previously acted as a judge in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court (four about 4 weeks. He later resigned from the KZN Bar to start a private company and has been called up to act in the Gauteng High Court on a more regular basis.

In the Strategic Partners case Wanless was called upon to adjudicate a dispute between the two partners in the joint venture to operate the Gautrain rapid train.

At the heart of the dispute was the interpretation of a profit and revenue clause in an annexure to the main joint venture agreement. Both parties, Strategic Partners Group, and Bombela Concession Company, disagreed on the meaning of the clause and took this to arbitration.

The arbitrator, retired Justice N.V. Hurt had ruled in favour of Bombela. Strategic Partners therefore took the arbitration decision on review in the high court, on the grounds that the arbitrator failed to properly decide the issues in the dispute.

After examining both parties’ arguments, including looking at previous judgments of the Gauteng High Court and English arbitration law, Wanless ruled that the arbitrator had properly decided the dispute and dismissed Strategic Partners’ review application.

In total, Wanless as has acted as a judge for about 135 weeks, which equates to about 2 years and 6 months. This feat is impressive when you consider that some of these weeks were done pro bono in some of the busiest, most complex courts in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

During this period, he was exposed to a broad variety of cases in criminal law, administrative and constitutional law, tax law, insolvency, and family law, among other areas.

In its review of Wanless’s application before the October 2022 JSC interviews, the General Council of the Bar gives positive remarks about his court manner, and state:

The candidate enjoys a reputation for being prepared for his matters     and on top of the issues arising from those matters, even those cases   involving lengthy papers. The candidate also has a reputation for being   efficient and pleasant when dealing with matters.”

However, in the same review, the GCB draws attention to Wanless’s relative paucity of report judgments, considering that he has been an acting judge for an extended period of time.

The GCB also notes that, in a previous JSC interview, a misconduct complaint was filed against him that involved inappropriate conduct towards a colleague. At that interview, several JSC commissioners asked him why he won’t consider “clearing his name” before making himself available for judicial office, forcing Wanlesss to withdraw his candidacy right there and then.

Subsequently, following an investigation, the Legal Practice Council could not find enough evidence to substantiate this complaint, dismissing the complaint and issuing Wanless with a certificate of good conduct.

Durban-born Wanless initially worked as a public prosecutor before joining the KwaZulu-Natal Bar in 1990 and took silk in 2016.

He holds a BA (1983), LLB (1985), and a diploma in maritime law (1987) all from the then-University of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal).

October 2023 interview

Adv Brad Wanless SC’s October 2023 interview for a position on the Gauteng High Court was successful. He was nominated for appointment.

April 2023 interview

Adv Brad Christopher Wanless’ interview for a position on the Gauteng Division of the High Court was unsuccessful.

October 2021 JSC Interview:


April 2021 Interview:

April 2021 Interview Synopsis:

At just over an hour-and-a-half-long, the interview of Advocate Brad Wanless SC was dominated by an allegation of sexual harassment  made against him by a former colleague.

The written complaint had been submitted to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Wanless was afforded the opportunity to respond in writing — which he did in a 50-page response with separate annexures on 14 April last week.

When the objection was raised by Advocate Jennifer Cane SC Wanless initially tried to prevent that line of questioning, suggesting it was not proper to have it aired in public. Cane had also not received his written response as part of the information pack which the JSC Secretariat makes available to all commissioners, so the questions were delayed to allow her an opportunity to peruse Wanless’s response.

The interview continued while Cane caught up with her reading. Soon, she was up to speed. The matter was raised again.

At some point, bizarrely, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng appeared to wonder aloud as to whether the commission needed to air the objection and discuss it, at all.

Sanity prevailed when Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya pointed out that the charge was “of a very serious nature” and went to the very heart of Wanless being suitable for appointment or not. Maya made the point that such behaviour would preclude Wanless from being appointed a judge, and from many other jobs out there, too.

The objection dealt with a 2013 incident outside a coffee shop near the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria where it was alleged that Wanless had sexually harassed  a female articled clerk on the last day of a trial lasting three weeks.

In his written response Wanless and claimed that he did not recall the goodbye or any particularity about it. Upon further questioning by Cane, Wanless said that such behaviour was “so against me” and inappropriate.

He added that if he had done such a thing, he would surely have “chosen a more opportune moment” rather than in full view of colleagues.

If that hole wasn’t deep enough, Wanless embarked on the kind of excavation last seen when the foundations of the Carlton Centre were dug up. He said that he could not have done such a thing because he was a “committed Christian” with four daughters and that his wife had been a victim of sexual assault at the magistrate court in Durban in 2000.

Various commissioners attempted to get him to withdraw his candidature, but Wanless dug his heels in, claiming that it would be a “true indictment on the procedure” to appoint judges if candidates were asked to clear their names when they were charged with untested allegations.

He was further encouraged to withdraw his application and have his name cleared through the Legal Practice Council before reapplying for appointment to the Bench.

Wanless asked for a five-minute break to consider his withdrawal. The JSC adjourned for lunch. On its return, Wanless confirmed that he had withdrawn his candidature.


October 2019 Interview: