15 FEB 2013 00:00 - JEREMY GAUNTLETT
"As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, it is harder to judge oneself – and one may add, the fruits of one's labours – than to judge others."
But, if no crevice of public power is beyond judicial reach, does it follow that judicial power itself is unlimited? That notion is constitutional anathema. It invites comparison with the power of the king in medieval English law. "Every legal power must have legal limits otherwise there is dictatorship," as one text has it.
A full high court Bench had, by majority, dismissed a challenge to pricing regulations for medicines. All parties were in agreement that the matter was urgent. Application for leave to appeal followed the next court day. It was eventually heard weeks later. The ruling was not immediately delivered, as is customary, but reserved by the judges. After five weeks, the ruling was requested. There was no response. So an application for leave to appeal was lodged with the appeal court, on the basis that for the high court not to grant the application within a reasonable period was, in the absence of an explanation, inexplicable. In the circumstances in which the matter was argued (agreed by the parties to be urgent), constructively, it was a refusal of leave to appeal.
In Minister of Basic Education, Sport and Culture v Vivier NO, (2012), also in Namibia, the court took four years and two months to confirm in its material parts a judgment for damages initially heard in the high court from February 2005, with judgment delivered on September 30 2007. The claimant had sued on behalf of a mentally disabled girl raped by a teacher.