IN THE MEDIA: Biowatch betrayal denies justice

Biowatch gained wide public prominence in 2009 with its Constitutional Court victory. What’s become known internationally as “the landmark Biowatch Case”, clarifies that in future, public interest litigants acting in good faith will not have to fear that costs will be awarded against them. See A Landmark Victory for Justice – Biowatch’s Battle with the South African State 

However, as highlighted by Sello Ivan Phahle in the Mail & Guardian on 10 January, “the widespread inconsistency in the application and the apparent reluctance to embrace the Biowatch principle by our judges in the lower courts, particularly those in the high court and the supreme court of appeal, is concerning.

“This pattern not only undermines the doctrine of stare decisis, which holds that a decisions of a superior court is binding on lower courts, and thus ensures predictability of legal outcomes, but it also perpetuates a climate of uncertainty for litigants, resulting in an uneven legal playing field by deterring financially constrained members of the public from litigating on the public interest.”

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