Lawyers Associations complain about JSC nominations time frame
Two lawyers’ associations have complained to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that they did not have enough time to nominate for the head of the judiciary in the Eastern Cape. An advert for a number of positions, including one of Constitutional Court judge, was circulated by the JSC on the 11 January 2017, with a deadline of the 3 February 2017.
However, the advert was amended to add a vacancy for the Judge President in the Eastern Cape Division of High Court. The Mthatha branch of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) and Transkei Attorneys Association (TAA) say that the advertisement for the Judge President’s vacancy in their division was only placed on 27 January, giving stakeholders a week to nominate a candidate by the closing date of 3 February. The TAA say that at least a month is needed.
It is not clear why two calls for nomination were issued rather than one. The time lines for nomination or proper notice being given in such adverts have previously been the cause for concern. In 2015, the JSC made the date known for nominations on the 31 March 2015, with a deadline of 24 April 2015. In that instance the date was circulated to only some stakeholders, and on representations as to the limited nature of the notice, the date for nominations was extended.
There is no rule on how such adverts are made available. They are circulated by the Office of the Chief Justice on various email lists, and posted on the website of the Office of the Chief Justice. Judges Matter also publishes the adverts when we receive them. Wide publication of such adverts is needed, and of course, the longer the time available for nomination the broader the spectrum of applications will be.