Law Library Stacks

Established in 1994, the Constitutional Court of South Africa is the highest court in the country.  It enjoys original/appellate jurisdiction on “constitutional matters . . . and . . . any other matter, if the Constitutional Court grants leave to appeal on the grounds that the matter raises an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Court.”  (S. Afr. Const., 1996, as amended, § 167, available on the University of Pretoria website, at  The expansion of the Court’s jurisdiction to nonconstitutional matters occurred in 2012 with the adoption of the seventeenth amendment to the South African Constitution.  (Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act 72 of 2012, § 3 (which amended § 167 of the Constitution), 572 Government Gazette, No. 36128 (Feb. 1, 2013),  All decisions the Court issued prior to the amendment were on constitutional issues.  (See Warren Freedman, Understanding the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 242 (2013).)

Since its creation, the Constitutional Court has adjudicated numerous constitutional law matters, many of which, by the Court’s own assessment, “have had a profound impact on the law in South Africa” and constitute “landmark” cases.  (Judgments: Land Mark Cases, Constitutional Court of South Africa, (click on “Landmark Cases” under “Judgments” on the left side of the page) (last visited Dec. 9, 2014).)  These include a 1995 decision abolishing the death penalty, a 2001 case concerning the extradition of accused persons to jurisdictions that impose the death penalty, and a 2005 decision recognizing same-sex marriages; all are available on the Court’s website.  The Court also makes available on its website all of the decisions it has issued since its establishment.  (Judgments, Introduction to Judgments, Constitutional Court of South Africa, http://www.consti (click on “Judgments” on the left side of the page) (last visited Dec. 9, 2014).)  In addition, Constitutional Court decisions are available on the websites of the Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) and  (South Africa: Constitutional Court, Southern African legal Information Institute (SAFLII), (last updated Dec. 2, 2014); Case Law, Constitutional Court,, (last visited Dec. 9, 2014).)  None of these sources appear to make available information regarding the frequency of citation of any of the cases. 

Back to Top

Last Updated: 06/09/2015