The December 2013 graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University took place on 11 December. One postgraduate student from the SERAJ Research Group was awarded his degree at this event.
Dr Petrus Maree’s dissertation is entitled “Investigating an alternative administrative-law system in South Africa” and was supervised by Professor Geo Quinot. The dissertation considers the question whether there are viable alternatives to the conceptual framework within which the South African administrative-law system operates, given that the administration now functions under new constitutional demands and new approaches to administrative engagement. The purpose of the dissertation is not to proffer concrete recommendations for such a system, but only to propose an approach by means of which questions concerning the legal regulation of the administration and administrative function may be addressed. Petrus’ dissertation introduces the concept of the contextualised administrative-law system. This concept emphasises the legal relationship between the public administration and the judiciary, but is not limited to this relationship. The administrative-law system does not operate in a vacuum, though, and is informed by the conceptual framework within which the system operates. The system is also a function of its geo-political and socio-economic context.
The historical development of the doctrine of separation of powers, as one aspect of the conceptual framework, is traced. Thereby the normative, dynamic and flexible nature of the doctrine is established. On this basis, the potential and value of a fourth branch, the administration, within the separation-of-powers doctrine is assessed. By implication, the administrative function would constitute a fourth, distinct function in addition to the legislative, executive and judicial functions.
The concept of the administrative-law system is consequently applied to the South African context. Firstly, the development of the South African system is outlined and, secondly, the administrative-law relationship is analysed. This discussion establishes that the system is characterised by an embryonic administrative law, the equating of administrative law and judicial review, an emphasis on the rule-of-law or “red-light” approach to administrative regulation, a rhetoric of deference, and the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Therefore, the system must be informed by the Constitution and, arguably, by Karl Klare’s project of transformative constitutionalism and Etienne Mureinik’s “culture of justification”.
The content of the separation of powers is also investigated by means of an historical analysis of the considerations that explain the existence of an independent administrative jurisdiction in France. This entails an exposition of the Conseil d’État’s structure, organisation and dual function. Principles that describe the French system, other than the pure separation of powers, are discussed, namely, the duality of jurisdiction, the separation of administrative and judicial authorities, the separation of the administrative jurisdiction and active administration, the maxim “to judge the administration is still administering”, and the hybrid nature of administrative litigation.
The legal regulation of public contracts can be regarded as a doctrinal perspective of the administrative-law system. The public contract is discussed as one form of administration, due to its conceptual ambiguity as a legal instrument on the boundary between public and private law and due to the administration’s increasing contractual activity. To an extent the contrat administratif of French law indicates that particular legal rules are an extension of the broader principles, considerations and institutional structures discussed in the preceding sections.
This dissertation introduces an approach that emphasises the relationship between the administration and the judiciary as well as the conceptual framework within which the administrative-law system operates. Through the application of this approach to the South African context and to public contracting the key concepts and debates underlying an appropriate administrative-law system in South Africa are identified and investigated. This constitutes a platform for the development of a particular administrative-law system and an exposition of viable alternatives to the conceptual framework within which the system operates.
The full dissertation can be accessed on SUNScholar at http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85591.