Judicial Authority

The Constitution lays out the framework for the judicial authority of South Africa, as follows:

  • The judicial authority of the Republic is vested in the courts.
  • The courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice.
  • No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the courts.


Jurisdiction of the court


The court is the successor to the Appellate Division (AD) and was originally constituted in 1910 as the final South African court of appeal on the establishment of the Union of South Africa. With the creation of the Constitutional Court and the enactment of s 166 of the Constitution, 1996 the name of the Court was changed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). 

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The Court decides cases upon the record of the proceedings before the lower court and after considering the written and oral arguments presented. Witnesses do not appear before the court, and the parties need not be present during the hearing of an appeal. A written judgment is usually handed down shortly after the argument.