The Role of Public Policy in King v De Jager (CCT 315/18) [2021] ZACC 4 (19 February 2021)




public policy, conflicting constitutional values, value of equality, law of succession, constitutional subsidiarity


In King v De Jager (CCT 315/18) [2021] ZACC 4 (19 February 2021), the Constitutional Court considered whether a discriminatory out-and-out disinheritance clause in a private will could be declared unenforceable in terms of public policy. This opened private wills with disinheritance clauses to the scrutinising evaluation of public values despite freedom of testation. Although public policy has always been an elusive concept, South African public policy is infused with constitutional values to give more clarity on the content of public policy. In King a conflation emerged between constitutional rights, legislative violations and public policy values, however. The court grappled with the question of whether to apply the Constitution directly based on a violation in terms of section 9(4) or whether the section 8 of the Equality Act should be applied directly through the subsidiarity principle, or whether the discriminatory clause should be evaluated through the public policy lens. Where the conflicting values were weighed up there seem to be hints of subjective views to tip the scales in favour of one value over another. This is a concern when public policy is used to advance a subjective view of what the community values more, especially when it involves the disruption of the devolvement of a deceased's estate. This underlines the difficult application of public policy values, even in a constitutional democracy, when competing values are at play.


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Author Biography

Rika van Zyl, University of the Free State

Senior Lecturer, School of Financial Planning Law, University of the Free State, South Africa




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How to Cite

van Zyl, R. (2024). The Role of Public Policy in King v De Jager (CCT 315/18) [2021] ZACC 4 (19 February 2021). Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 27, (Published on 1 February 2024 ) pp 1–24.



Case Notes

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