Answer to a question from a reader

What steps need to be taken if a court judgment has been reserved for more than three months?

The long answer

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said that there should be a date given by when judgment will be given. If circumstances make that impossible, the court must strive to give the judgment within three months after the last hearing. So three months is what the courts must strive to do. Judges are honour bound to report their reserved judgments to their Judge President.

But because there have been a large number of reserved judgments of longer than three months, the heads of court resolved at a meeting in September 2018 that the reserved judgments report for judgments outstanding for six months or longer would be published on the Office of the Chief Justice website. This has been implemented since February 2019. It aims to keep the judiciary accountable as the judges’ names are published. 

The Judge President as Head of the Court in each province has to talk to the judge who has a reserved judgment of longer than three months to understand what the problem is and assist the judge to deliver the judgment. 

Ultimately the Judge President can refer a complaint to the Judicial Complaints Commission of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). The JSC has said that delivering judgments expeditiously is fundamental to democracy and that delays spoiled the reputation of the courts.

GroundUp reported in 2019 that three judges, Anton van Zyl, Siraj Desai and Jacqueline Henriques, have been reported to Judicial Complaints Commission for their high numbers of outstanding reserved judgments.

In 2020 GroundUp reported that there were over 100 outstanding reserved judgments of over six months.

As part of the Service Delivery Improvement Plan, the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ)  developed a policy on complaints management:

  • The Court Managers or Acting Court Managers are designated as Complaints Officers for their respective courts. In courts where there are no Court Managers, the Office Manager or most senior official in that court becomes a Complaints Officer.

  • Members of the public can lodge complaints through letters/emails or by completing an OCJ complaints form and submitting it to a Complaints Officer. 

  • Members of the public are advised that the OCJ does not provide legal advice. For legal advice, one may contact Legal Aid South Africa for their assistance. This may be done by calling the Legal Aid Advice Toll Free Line: 0800 110 110. For more information visit their website on

Wishing you the best,

Answered on April 1, 2021, 12:52 p.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.