The Court played a crucial role in the adoption of the final Constitution of 1996. The Constitutional Court had to certify that the new text, passed by the Constitutional Assembly, complied with the 34 constitutional principles agreed upon by the negotiators of the interim constitution.
The Court rejected some limited aspects of the first version of the Constitution but certified an amended text. See the certification process for more.
The Constitutional Court is South Africa's highest court on constitutional matters. So its jurisdiction - the scope of its authority to hear cases - is restricted to constitutional matters and issues connected with decisions on constitutional matters.
How cases reach the Constitutional Court
- as the result of an appeal from a judgment of the High Court or the Supreme Court of Appeal;
- as a direct application to the Court, asking it to sit as a court of first and last instance because of the urgency of the matter;
- as the result of the court below declaring a piece of legislation invalid, which requires confirmation by the Constitutional Court; or
- as a Bill parliament asks the Court to review.
South Africa has an uncodified legal system. This means that there is not only one primary source where the law originates and can be found.
South African law has more than one source:
- Case Law (court decisions)
- Common Law.
- Old writers / authors.
- Indigenous Law.