Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the South African Judicial Education Institute Bill [84-2007] (National Assembly - sec 75), dated 07 November 2007.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the South African Judicial Education Institute Bill [B 4-2007] (National Assembly - see. 75), reports on the Bill with amendments [B4A-2007] as follows:

1. This is the first of a package of Bills aimed at facilitating judicial transformation. Parliament is also presently engaged with the second Bill, dealing with the establishment of a legislative framework for judicial ethical conduct and a complaints mechanism about judges. The third Bill, the Superior Courts Bill, dealing with the judicial management of the judiciary and the rationalisation of the higher courts, is being negotiated further with the judiciary and other stakeholders, (?) and it is likely that a new version of this Bill will be brought to the Committee next year.

2. The South African Judicial Education Institute Bill emerged from a process of extensive consultation and negotiation with the judiciary. The Committee understands that the Bill has been substantially agreed to by the judiciary.

3. The Committee feels that the establishment of the South African Judicial Education Institute is crucial to the transformation of the judiciary and welcomes this Bill.

4. The Committee believes that the Bill is basically sound. The amendments effected are not substantial and do not affect the underlying framework of the Bill. For example, the amendments to clause 7 relate to the composition of the Council of the Institute, and are necessary in order to provide for a mechanism to designate the Council members who are not ex officio members, as well as to increase the representation of magistrates on the Council by two members.

The new clause 11 results from the rearrangement of clause 5 into separate clauses - in effect, the new clause is the original clause 5(2). However, the Committee would like to draw attention to the amendment of clause 12 (introduced as clause 11) to the effect that it would not be possible to appoint a serving judicial officer or a judge discharged from active service (?) as the Director of the Institute. This clause clearly states that the Director would be the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute and, as the head of the Institute, he or she would bear the principal responsibility for the administration and management of the Institute.

The Committee holds the view that such functions are distinctly removed from those associated with the holding of judicial office. They are not compatible with the office of a judicial office bearer and, should a judicial office bearer be appointed to this position, the independence, impartiality and dignity of the judiciary is potentially at risk. The same applies to a judge discharged from active service. (?)

5. The Committee stresses that all policy decisions regarding the Institute, and particularly the training curricula, would be determined by the Council, of which the majority of members would be judicial officers.

6. The Committee understands that the Department has not yet worked out the cost of implementing this Bill. Obviously, it would be unreasonable to expect a precise costing to have been completed at this stage, but we are concerned that there is not even a broad estimate of the cost.

7. The Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is the Accounting Officer of the Institute. The Committee expects though that when the Institute reports to the Committee in terms of clause 15, the Director General, a non-executive representative of the Council of the Institute and the Institute's Director will account to the Committee. (?)

Report to be considered.