Ismail Mahomed Law Reform Essay Competition


The South African Law Reform Commission, in partnership with Juta & Co, has awarded the prestigious 2008 Ismail Mahomed Prize for Law Reform to two law students at a ceremony held at the Constitutional Court on 3 July 2009. Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony were Madame Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, a judge of the Constitutional Court and Chairperson of the SALRC; Justice Willie Seriti, the Vice-Chairperson of the SALRC; Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo (Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UCT); Advocate Bonisiwe Makhene, Legal Adviser to the President; Mrs Mahomed, the wife of the late Chief Justice; and Mr Enver Mahomed, the brother of the late Chief Justice with his family.

The 2008 winners are Ms Suzanna Harvey, an LLB graduate from the University of Cape Town, for her essay entitled “Closing a Loophole in the Labour Relations Act: The Constitutionality of s198”; and Mr Chris McConnachie, a penultimate LLB student registered at Rhodes University for his essay entitled “With such changes as may be required by the context: Section 13 of the Civil Union Act, Absurdity and Gender Discrimination in the Legal Consequences of Marriage”. Both winners received vouchers worth R10 000 each from Incredible Connection. The prize was sponsored by Juta &Co.

The Ismail Mahomed Prize for Law Reform is a joint venture between the South African Law Reform Commission and Juta & Co. The competition was established in honour of the late Chief Justice and former Chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission. The aim of this competition, which is an annual event at the SALRC, is to encourage critical legal writing by students, while generating new innovative ideas for the reform of the law. The initiative also seeks to encourage legal scholarship and public dialogue on the link between law reform, human rights and the rule of law.

The 2008 competition was launched in April 2008 and LLB and LLM students registered at any South African university were invited to submit essays proposing the reform of any area of the law. In addition, visits were undertaken by representatives of the SALRC and Juta to the Universities of Limpopo, Venda, Walter Sisulu, Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa, and North-West to promote the competition. Fifteen essays were received. A panel consisting of Judge Willie Seriti (Vice-Chairperson of the SALRC and Chairperson of the Panel), Ms Thuli Madonsela (Full-time Commissioner, SALRC), Professors Cathi Albertyn (Part-time Member, SALRC and Professor at WITS), Christof Heyns (Dean: University of Pretoria), Thandabantu Nhlapo (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town), Managay Reddi (Dean: University of KwaZulu-Natal), and Pamela Schwikkard (Part-time Member: SALRC and Dean: University of Cape Town), and Ms Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director: Foundation for Human Rights) evaluated the fifteen essays received for the competition and unanimously decided to award the 2008 Prize jointly to Ms Harvey and Mr McConnachie.


Chris McConnachie (joint winner), Han-marié Marshall-van Zyl (Student Books Publisher - Juta Law), Suzanna Harvey (joint winner), Judge Yvonne Mokgoro (Chairperson of the SALRC and Justice of the Constitutional Court), Fanyana Mdumbe (SALRC), Wayne Staples (Marketing Manager - Juta Law), Judge Willie Seriti (Deputy Chairperson of the SALRC)


Mrs Mahomed, the wife of the late Chief Justice Ismail Mahomed, Chris McConnachie and Ms Suzanna Harvey


Mr Michael Palumbo, Deputy Chief State Law Adviser of the SALRC