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Tom Bennett


Tom Bennett BA LLB (Rhodes), PhD (UCT), is a Professor in the Department of Public Law, a Fellow of the University of Cape Town and the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. As a member of the special project Committee on Customary Law of the South African Law Reform Commission, he was actively engaged in the Report on Customary Marriages (1997), Report on Application of Customary Law (1997), Discussion Paper on Reform of the Customary Law of Succession (2000) Project 90. Other publications for the SA Law Reform Commission include: Report on Consolidated Legislation pertaining to International Judicial Co-operation (2006) Project 121. For the Namibian Law and Development Commission, he wrote A Background and Discussion Paper on Customary Law and the Constitution (1996). His other major publications include: The Application of Customary Law in Southern Africa: the conflict of personal laws (1985) Juta & Co 250p, A Sourcebook of African Customary Law for Southern Africa (1991) Juta & Co 462p, Human Rights and Customary Law under the South African Constitution (1995) Juta & Co 174p and Customary Law in South Africa (2004) Juta & Co 462p.

Prof Tom Bennett is responsible for teaching:

  • UG RDL5000F Conflict of Laws: the principles governing choice of law and recognition of foreign judgments in South African private international law. Has Vula
  • PG PBL6015F: Principles of Public International Law: a broad introduction to the principles of international law with special reference to sources, legal personality, territory, treaties, state responsibility, state succession, sovereign immunity and treatment of aliens. Has Vula
  • PG PBL6018S: International Law on Disputes and the Use of Force: an examination of the rules regulating use of force, peace-keeping and enforcement, pacific settlement of disputes and a brief overview of international criminal and humanitarian law. Vula to be established


His current research interests, however, centre on traditional African religions (in view of the freedom of religion and religious equality, the implications of legal pluralism in a constitutional democracy, socio-linguistic analysis of key constitutional terms (such as ownership, property and culture) and the crimes and delicts of customary law.