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Judge Norman Manoim

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as judge: 2021 (Gauteng, Johannesburg)
Further appointments: Competition Appeal Court (November 2021)

Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth: 24 February 1958

Key judgments:

Candidate Bio:

It is often ill-advised for a candidate to return to the JSC within six months of their appointment, asking for a promotion. JSC commissioners are often irritated by this and consider it as ‘careerist’. However, that can hardly be said about Johannesburg Judge Norman Manoim.

Although he only became a permanent High Court judge in June 2021, he spent more than twenty years prior as the deputy and later chairperson of the Competition Tribunal. In a nomination letter by leading Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, Manoim is described as “South Africa’s leading expert in competition law”, with current Tribunal Chairperson Mondo Mazwai confirming that Manoim has “earned the respect of the competition law community in SA, as evidenced by their overwhelming support for his appointment to the bench.” These accolades make him eminently qualified to be a judge on the Competition Appeal Court, and the JSC is unlikely to quibble much with him coming up for promotion to that court in such a short space of time.

Manoim holds BA (1980) and LLB (1983) degrees, both obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand. After completing his articles in 1984, Manoim joined and rose through the ranks to become partner at leading law firm Cheadle Thompson and Haysom, where his practice focused on media law and human rights, where he served as an instructing attorney in several major political trials. He also represented political detainees and dealt with issues of censorship under the then apartheid security laws.

In 1999 Manoim was invited to serve on the drafting team of what was later to become the Competition Act. After that project, he was appointed to serve on the then Competition Board and its replacement under the new Act, the Competition Tribunal. Having stayed at the Tribunal for more than twenty years, he is still its longest-serving member and only its second chairperson.

Manoim was a visiting professor at Wits Law School, where he taught competition law, before becoming acting judge (2019) and later permanent judge (2021) of the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg.

October 2021 JSC Interview:

Interview of Judge Manoim by the JSC, October 2021, for a position on the Competition Appeal Court

Judge Norman Michael Manoim’s  application was successful. He was nominated for appointment to the Competition Appeal Court.

April 2021 JSC Interview:

April 2021 Interview Synopsis:

The chairperson of the Competition Tribunal from 2009 to 2019, Norman Manoim was quick to point out that this involved adjudication work similar to that of a high court judge since cases delved into fields including criminal law, commercial law, and civil issues.

He described the Competition Tribunal as being the equivalent of the Labour Court: a specialised court of the first instance.

When asked by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng why the tribunal’s judgments often rivaled those of the Constitutional Court for length, Manoim said this was down to the inclusion of both the “legal and economic analysis” that these findings required. He said, “competition judgments are generally long around the world”.

Attorney Doris Tshepe said Manoim, who had previously worked for 15 years as an attorney for Cheadle, Thompson, and Haysom, a firm known for representing antiapartheid activists during the 1980s, had been “a great mentor indeed” when she joined as an articled clerk.

Noting Manoim’s student activism during the 1980s, advocate Dali Mpofu SC asked the candidate how those experiences had affected his legal work?

Manoim said he had been president of the Student Representative Council at Wits University and vice-president of the National Union of South Afrucan Students (Nusas) and they had tried to conscioutise the mainly white student body about the political reality of the time: “We didn’t protest about the food in the cafeteria,” he said.

Manoim said if appointed he would ensure that the Constitution was not just a “beautiful piece of paper” but a living document that positively affected the lives of ordinary South Africans.