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Judicial Service Commission

Judges are responsible for applying the law and dispensing justice in the superior courts of our land. Depending on how they decide a case can mean a great deal to the parties involved, and for this reason they are important and powerful members of society.

The Judicial Service Commission Act 19941 is the statute which has established various measures to ensure that judges do what they are supposed to; it provides for a judicial code of conduct, a register of (financial) interests, and procedures for complaints about judges, amongst other matters.

The Chief Justice will appoint a Judicial Conduct Tribunal, if requested to do so by the Judicial Service Committee, in order to inquire into allegations of incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct against a judge.2 For the hearing of this Tribunal, it may subpoena witnesses to answer questions, and to produce documents.

  1. It is a criminal offence:3
    • having been subpoenaed, to fail to attend the hearing; or
    • not to remain in attendance until excused by the Tribunal; or
    • to fail to produce any book, document, statement or thing to which the subpoena relates.
  2. It is a criminal offence also:
    • to refuse to answer a question;4
    • to give false information to the Tribunal;5
    • to hinder or obstruct the Tribunal in its functions;6
    • to disclose the contents of any document etc. in the possession of the Tribunal except in evidence or if authorised by the Chief Justice.7
  3. Any member of the Commission, Committee, Tribunal, or Secretariat of the Commission, or Registrar or his staff – or anyone, for that matter – who discloses any confidential information or confidential document obtained by that person in the performance of his functions in terms of the Act, commits an offence.8

  4. Any person who (wilfully or negligently) in any manner discloses any confidential information that came to his knowledge as a result of contravention of the above provision commits an offence.9
  1. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 42 of 2013. 

  2. Section 19(1) read with section 21(1). 

  3. Section 34(1)(a) read with section 29. 

  4. Section 34(1)(b)(i). 

  5. Section 34(1)b)(ii). 

  6. Section 34(1)(c). 

  7. Section 34(1)(d) read with section 29(2). 

  8. Section 38(1) read with section 38(2). 

  9. Section 38(4).