The DGRU submission on the Chief Justice candidates
Ahead of the interviews for Chief Justice taking place in the first week of February 2022, the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) at UCT’s Department of Public Law made a submission to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on the four candidates shortlisted for the top job in the judiciary.
In the submission, the DGRU considered each candidates’ record of judgments on different aspects of the law, including private law, commercial law and constitutional law. The submission also includes selected writings on law.
Importantly, the DGRU submission sets out the important qualities that make a good Chief Justice. These qualities include intellectual leadership, or the ability to write high-quality, innovative judgments that have an impact on the law. Administrative skill, which includes the ability to lead a large and complex organisation like the judiciary and all its institutions, including the JSC.
The DGRU also identifies integrity and ethics as indispensable qualities for Chief Justice, as the incumbent will be expected to be a role model to all judges, and chief enforcer of judicial ethics.
The DGRU identifies independent-mindedness, strong communication skills, and diplomacy as key qualities of a future chief justice, as the person will be required to speak confidently with and on behalf of the judiciary, in promotion of constitutional values such as human dignity, equality, and human rights and the rule of law. Humility, generosity, and a ‘thick skin’ are the rest of the qualities the DGRU identifies.
Lastly, the DGRU submission compares the four candidates on key factors such as the time they have remaining until they retire (Justices Zondo and Madlanga retire in the next three years, which doesn’t leave them much time in office and might lessen their chances). But also on factors such as leadership, innovation, and judicial excellence.