The Western Cape High Court has thirteen judgments which are more than six months overdue and four are more than a year late.
According to GroundUp, Judicial norms and standards state that, judges are expected to deliver judgments within three months of the last hearing.
A latest list of reserved judgments which was sent to GroundUp by a concerned lawyer highlighted that 27 judgments are more than three months late.
Nine of the 13 judgments older than six months fall under, Judge Siraj Desai is and Acting Judge Engers.
A 2017 report from GroundUp stated that 11 judgments had been outstanding for more than six months. In June 2018 it was 16 judgments, and in September 2018 it was 17 judgments.
It is the responsibility of the Judge President of a high court to make sure the court’s judges are delivering their reserved judgments on time.
Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Chief Justice to make sure the Judges President are doing this.
Alison Tilley, coordinator at Judges Matter, says there are many reasons judges give for delays, such as “the complexity of the matter, how long the matter was heard for, and sometimes just issues like illness.”
“There are some courts where the pressure of work is higher, and the sheer number of cases being heard is such that it is difficult to get judgments out on time,” she added.
According to the judicial norms, the Chief Justice is responsible for monitoring the performance of judges.
GroundUp says they emailed Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the Chief Justice, for comment regarding the Western Cape High Court list days before publication however he did not respond.
“There is a lot of pressure on judges as it is to hand down decisions quickly, without wanting to compromise on the quality of decisions,” says Tilley…”
A leading lawyer was unsympathetic to the tardy judges, highlighting that it is almost impossible to write a judgment two years after it has been reserved, because of fading memory.