Judicial Service Commission

Legal row over Kenya's acting Chief Justice

The appointment of a new Chief Justice for Kenya is turning into the nightmare that court-watchers had predicted – and the process still has a long way to go. Former CJ David Maraga officially stood down last week, having taken his outstanding leave from mid-December 2020. He leaves behind a number of unresolved conflicts between the judiciary on the one hand and the executive and legislature on the other.

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When Kenya’s immediate past Chief Justice, David Maraga, announced he was taking leave pending his retirement in January 2021, he added that the Deputy Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, would take over as Acting Chief Justice from the time of his departure until someone was appointed to succeed him.

Litigation in Lesotho as King declines to appoint judges

Many people in the legal world will be aware of the looming constitutional crisis in Kenya where the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has refused to appoint a number of judges whose names were presented to him by the Judicial Service Commission. Fewer, however, will have been aware that a similar problem has arisen in Lesotho and that litigation is now pending to test whether the King – Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy – may refuse to approve the appointment of candidates proposed by the commission.

No-one disputes that Lesotho has a serious shortage of judges. And with some having recently retired and two recent deaths, the situation has now become critical.

Towards the end of August, the Judicial Service Commission met to consider new appointments. There were five vacancies, and after the commission’s consideration, five names were finalised and sent to the King for appointment.

Judges' scandal in South Africa raises questions over Judicial Service Commission

In many African countries a special ceremony is held during January to mark the start of the official court year. No such tradition has yet developed in South Africa. But the 2020 legal year got off to a spectacular start all the same: the deputy judge president of the high court in one of SA's biggest provinces issued an affidavit making sensational claims against the judge president and his wife, who is also a judge in the same division.

Read affidavit by Patricia Goliath DJP

Perhaps the biggest shock I have ever experienced while writing about judges and the law in South Africa, was the day I heard that the judge president of the Western Cape, John Hlophe, was in trouble with the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s apex legal forum.

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