South African Legal Research
This is a brief guide to researching South African law.
South Africa has undergone tremendous change in the past two decades including a new constitution, new constitutional court and a new governmental structure. Most South African materials will be located on the upper level of the Wolff Library at call numbers beginning with KTL.
South African law has an interesting history of Dutch, Roman, English and customary law influence. The publications listed below offer an introduction to the history and organization of the law. To locate more resources, search Gulliver the online catalog (try our NEW catalog interface) using keywords to narrow your search results. For example, < south africa truth reconciliation > or < south africa customary. > We also include some publications on the general history of South Africa.
- History of South Africa e-book by Leonard Thompson
Notable publication in electronic format covering the time period precolonial to 2000. An earlier print edition is available in the Wolff Library.
- Introduction to the Law of South Africa, INTL KTL68 .I583 2004 edited by C.G. van der Merwe & Jacques E. du Plessis.
This book opens with an introductory chapter on the legal system and then follows with chapters arranged by law subject, such as constitutional law, civil procedure law, law of property, etc.
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, was approved by the Constitutional Court (CC) on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997. It is a unique and lengthy document that includes rights to housing, health care, food, and water. The South African government maintains a constitutional assembly database which includes documentation from the meetings. Previous versions of the constitution are also available there. We've also included some publications about the history and creation of the South African constitution.
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
This is from the South African government and includes a pdf version from the Statutes of the Republic of South Africa. It is unclear if the pdf has all the current amendments.
- Constitutional Law of South Africa INTLKTL2070 .C66 2002 by Stu Woolman
This four volume looseleaf is a comprehensive survey. It is also available on Westlaw (CLOSA).
- Constitutions of the Countries of the World
This database contains the full text of constitutions from over 190 countries. The database contains English translations for all the countries, plus introductory and comparative notes that review recent amendments and provide historical and political information. This is the electronic equivalent of the print version located in Wolff at INTL K3157.A2 B54.
- The Soul of a Nation: Constitution-making in South Africa INTL KTL2070 .E27 1998 by Hassen Ebrahim
Discusses this historic process in a chronological arrangement and also includes various letters, speeches, memoranda, etc.
Statutes & Codes
- Butterworths Statutes of South Africa
Lexis at Legal > Find Laws by Country or Region > Commonwealth > Legislation & Regulations > Butterworths Statutes of South Africa
A complete and editorially enhanced compilation of South African Statutes (Acts), including legislation since the abolishment of apartheid. From 1910 to present.
- Foreign Law Guide Database
This database is useful when you are searching for a particular law, such as marriage act, investment law, etc. Simply select "South Africa" as your jurisdiction, then browse the subject headings.
- Juta's Statutes of South Africa INTL KTL12.S6
The South African statutes laws by a major South African legal publisher.
- Parliament of South Africa
Official parliament web site with links to acts, bills, hansard, and other documents
- South African Numbered Acts
There are web resources that contain South African numbered (unconsolidated) legislation. The Southern African Legal Information Institute ( SAFLII) offers an alphabetical and chronological list of acts from 1993 with data and pdfs based on the South African Government Information site. The entire SAFLII database has many other materials, but you can limit your search to only numbered acts. The South African government offers a chronological listing of acts since 1993 (not searchable) also with links to pdfs from the official gazette.
- South African Constitutional Law Reports
Selected decisions (1991 - present) from the Supreme Court and new Constitutional Court of South Africa pertaining to Bill of Rights and other aspects of the new Constitution. Also includes key constitutional law decisions from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Most decisions are in English, but some are in Afrikaans. The print version is in the Wolff Library and the electronic version is on Lexis at Legal > Find Laws by Country or Region > South Africa > Case Law > Butterworths South African Constitutional Law Reports.
- South African Law Reports: Decisions of the Supreme Courts of South Africa INTL KTL18.35194 .S625
Selected decisions (1947 - present) from the following courts are included in this set: Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal, the provincial High Courts, and the Supreme Courts and High Courts of Namibia and Zimbabwe.
- The Law Library also subscribes to the South African Criminal Law Reports INTL KTL3796.3 S6 and South African Tax Cases INTL KTL3546.3 .S68.
- Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)
This web site has an extensive listing of South African court databases including labour, land, provincial high courts, and competition. Coverage time periods differ between courts.
- Acta Juridica INTL K1.C83 and HeinOnline
This annual journal is published by the law faculty at the University Of Cape Town.
- Annual Survey of South African Law
Organized by subject area, this authoritative annual review surveys the latest trends in South African law. It is an excellent source for identifying relevant statutes and court decisions. It is available on HeinOnline (check for coverage dates) and in the Wolff Library at INTL KTL12 .A56 (print has the most recent years).
- Butterworths Survey of South African Law INTL KTL11.B88
A handy review of developments in South African law during the year.
- South African Journal on Human Rights INTL K23.O6 and HeinOnline
This journal has in-depth articles examining many aspects of human right within South Africa.
- South African Yearbook of International Law INTL KZ21.S59
The focus of this journal is international law and most of the authors are South African. There is a useful list of treaties signed during the year and summaries of important case decisions.
- Researching South African Law
This invaluable research guide is written by two South African law librarians and is a good place to begin when researching this jurisdiction. The structure of the state, courts, legislative bodies and even includes a very useful list of law related links relevant to South African legal research.
- Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Official web site that includes legislation, acts, papers, and other publications. South Africa has a bicameral system consisting of the National Assembly (directly elected by voters) and the National Council of Provinces (elected by the provinces).
- South Africa Government Online
Portal to all government web sites. Try government departments to access specific ministries.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report
This report is now maintained on the Ministry of Justice web site. Information about TRC committees, transcripts, policy documents, hearings, etc may still be found on the TRC web site.
Revised 11/09 (MMS)
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