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Administrative Justice and Open Government

PBL5658S

Higher postgraduate course, second semester, one seminar per week.

Course convener(s): Professor Hugh Corder

Course outline:
There is no doubt that the organisational complexity of a modern democratic state demands of its executive branch that it be sophisticated, efficient, open and accountable. Most of such administrative process must be based on discretionary power in the hands of public officials. The challenge is to fashion legal rights, duties and procedures so that the subject has remedies to confront the abuse of public power, while leaving the executive sufficient space to govern legitimately. South African administrative law is relatively undeveloped when compared with similar legal systems, yet it faces greater demands than exist in most countries. This is particularly the case as the Constitution develops to accommodate changing political reality. This course intends to enable students to become familiar with a responsive package of legal institutions and rules to regulate the administration. Current administrative law will be examined critically, with substantial reference to the way in which the law has developed in other jurisdictions, particularly in the British Commonwealth. The feasibility and form of constitutional protection of the right of access to information and of open government will receive considerable attention, in the context of the exponential increase in legal protection at both international and national level for ATI in the past 15 years, and the emerging new academic literature on ATI. While the course will be critical and forward-looking, it will naturally involve a detailed knowledge of current law and practice, equipping students to be practitioners in the forefront of developments in this field. Several guest lecturers will participate in the course while Associate Professor R Calland will lecture on open government.

Lectures: 3 hours per week (seminar)

DP requirements: Satisfactory attendance at and participation in seminars and completion of assignments.

Assessment: An essay and an assignment count for 40%; long paper or written examination counts for 60% of the final grade.