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Judge Brian Spilg

Judge Brian Spilg

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as judge: 2009 (Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg)
Further appointment: 2019 (secondment to Land Claims Court)
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth: August 1949
Qualifications: BComm, LLB, H.Dip (Tax), H.Dip (Company Law), Cert. (Advanced Company Law 1 & 2) (Wits University),

Candidate Bio:

After a career spanning over 50 years in the legal profession, Judge Brian Spilg is now the most senior judge at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg (ranking just below the Deputy Judge President).

Spilg started his legal in 1972 as an articled clerk (candidate attorney) before becoming an attorney in 1975. He would later join the Johannesburg Bar in 1976 where he practised as a junior advocate until 1996, when he was awarded senior counsel (or silk) status. He would stay at the Bar until his appointment as a judge in 2009.

He has been actively involved in social justice initiatives within the legal profession, including being convenor of the Joburg Bar Human Rights Committee, chair of the Witwatersrand branch of Lawyers for Human Rights, and a founding member of NADEL and Advocates for Transformation.

As a judge, Spilg has written several ground-breaking judgments.

These include the Blue Moonlight judgment where he set out the duties of the municipality to provide alternative accommodation when there was an eviction from private property that would lead to the occupiers being homeless.

In eBotswana v Sentech, Spilg found the national signal transmission company Sentech delictually liable for not preventing the transmission of television signals meant for South African viewers into Botswana, thereby causing loss for local broadcaster, eBotswana.

In Makate v Vodacom, the so-called ‘Please Call Me’ case, Spilg forced telecommunications giant Vodacom to disclose through the discovery procedure all the documents which showed how much money the company had made from the ‘Please Call Me’ service. Mr Makate was claiming compensation for its invention.

Spilg is a proud alumnus of Wits University, where he has acquired a string of commercial law-related qualifications including a Bachelor of Commerce, higher diplomas in Tax and Company Law, and certificates in Advanced Company Law.

With such exposure to commercial law, it was not surprising that Spilg was one of the founding members of the Commercial Court at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

In addition to his High Court duties, Spilg took up a secondment at the Land Claims Court in 2019, where he has written important judgments such as Nyavana Traditional Authority v MEC Limpopo Agriculture, which held that for a valid land claim, the land claim form had to align with the cadastal land description used at the Deed Office, and the officials of the Land Reform Department must assist claimants in this.

Spilg has written several publications for the bar and bench, including several articles in Advocate on judicial independence, land reform and overcrowded prisons. He recently published an article in the Judiciary on artificial intelligence and judicial training.

With less than a year until his retirement, Spilg comes to the Competition Appeal Court at the twilight of an illustrious legal career. This might put him at a disadvantage but considering his vast commercial law experience, his demonstrated passion for social justice, and the CAC’s desperate need for judges (it had 5 vacancies in 2023), Spilg might just make it onto the court.

April 2023 interview

Judge Brian Solomon Spilg’s interview for a position on the Competition Appeal Court was unsuccessful.