A retired high court judge has obtained a court order setting aside the decisions of two judicial bodies that he should be investigated by a judicial conduct committee for allegedly failing to deliver a series of judgments.
Acting Judge Anthony Millar granted an order to retired Judge Ferdi Preller setting aside the Judicial Conduct Committee and Judicial Services Commission’s 2017 and 2018 decisions that complaints about two 2015 reserved judgments must be probed.
He referred the complaint back to the Judicial Conduct Committee for reconsideration.
Preller said in court papers that last June the tribunal’s secretary told him to collect documents concerning eight complaints about judgments he reserved in 2007 and 2008 and a further complaint about two judgments he reserved in April 2015.
A tribunal was meant to investigate the first set of complaints in 2013, but was postponed. The judgments were all delivered over time and he did not hear about it again.
He retired soon after reserving judgment in two cases in 2015, but wrote them in 2017.
He only became aware of the formal complaint after receiving the documentation last June.
At a tribunal pre-hearing in August last year Preller indicated evidence would be presented on the extraordinary workload at the High Court in Pretoria as well as his severe depression during the relevant period.
His legal team then advised him that the procedure to refer the last complaint to the tribunal had been defective and prejudiced him as the commission’s letters to him about it and a judicial conduct committee meeting were sent to an incorrect postal address.
He disputed that he had been informed of the meeting, elected not to make representations and that the 2015 judgments were still outstanding.