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Civil society in court to defend public interest law centres

- Joint media advisory

Six public interest law centres will be in court on 18 and 19 October to defend public interest litigation

Six Public Interest Law Centres (PILCs) are intervening as amici curiae in the matter between Endangered Wildlife Trust and Federation for a Sustainable Environment against the Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation and Atha-Africa Ventures. The matter will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on 18 and 19 October 2022. The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) represents the Endangered Wildlife Trust in the main appeal. 

The Legal Resources Centre, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, SECTION27, Equal Education Law Centre, Ndifuna Ukwazi and the Centre for Child Law will defend the use of multiple strategies including public interest litigation, advocacy and research in social justice work and highlight their role in transformative constitutionalism. On 7 July 2021, the High Court admitted all six PILCs as amici curiae.

In the court hearing scheduled for 18 and 19 October, the amici curiae will focus on statements made by Atha-Africa Venture against CER. Atha-Africa argued that CER was conflicted because it “professed to be an attorney of record but with a clear, direct and substantial interest in the proceedings both before the Water Tribunal and before the Court”. Atha-Africa initially sought punitive costs against CER.

The PILCs will submit that when public interest law centres use strategic litigation and other tools to achieve social justice in their own interests and those of their clients, this does not constitute a conflict of interest and is an approach that is legitimate in the context of South Africa’s transformative constitutionalism. 

Find a copy of our heads of argument in the matter here


Date: 18 and 19 October 2022

Time: 10:00 AM

Venue: High Court of South Africa Gauteng Division, Pretoria

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