Justice Froneman and Transformative Delict





Justice Johan Froneman, delict, transformative constitutionalism, critical jurisprudence


In this article the Constitutional Court judgments of Justice Johan Froneman are analysed with the aim of assessing his contribution to the South African law of delict. It is argued that traditional delict scholarship in South Africa is common-law centric in the sense that the common-law rules and principles that regulate the discipline are regarded as "delict proper" while constitutional considerations, statutes, and the customary law of injuries are effectively side-lined as "delict improper". Justice Froneman's approach to adjudicating delictual (or delict adjacent) matters has the effect of de-centring the common law's hegemony in our discipline. Instead, Froneman encourages those who work with delict to: Infuse it with constitutional spirit continuously; respect the legislature's important democratic role that should not be forced into common-law categories of thinking; take up the challenge of Africanising the common law through a healthy exchange with customary law; and see delict as a discipline that has restorative-justice potential. In this contribution, it is argued that these common law de-centring principles in Justice Froneman's delictual jurisprudence is transformative and critical in nature. As such, those seeking to merge the basic tenets of transformative constitutionalism, South African critical legal studies, and legal practice, may find great value in Froneman's delictual jurisprudence.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Emile Zitzke, University of Witwatersrand

Associate Professor of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. 




Barnard-Naude J and De Vos P "The Heteronormative Observer: The Constitutional Court's Decision in Le Roux v Dey" 2011 SALJ 407-419

Bhana D and Visser CJ "The Concurrence of Breach of Contract and Delict in a Constitutional Context" 2019 SAJHR 94-120

Boberg Law of Delict, Vol 1: Aquilian Liability

Boberg PQR The Law of Delict, Vol 1: Aquilian Liability (Juta Cape Town 1984)

Boezaart T "'Wrongful Life' – The Constitutional Court Paved the Way for Law Reform" 2015 Stell LR 399-423

Burchell J "The Odyssey of Pure Economic Loss" 2000 Acta Juridica 99-132

Chürr C "Wrongful Life Claims under South African Law: An Overview of the Legal Framework" 2015 Obiter 745-761

Davis D "Legal Transformation and Legal Education: Congruence or Conflict?" 2015 Acta Juridica 172-188

Davis D and Klare K "Transformative Constitutionalism and the Common and Customary Law" 2010 SAJHR 403-509

Du Plessis L "The Status and Role of Legislation in South Africa as a Constitutional Democracy: Some Exploratory Observations" 2011 PELJ 92-102

Fagan A "Aquilian Liability for Negligently Caused Pure Economic Loss: Its History and Doctrinal Accommodation" 2014 SALJ 288-327

Froneman JC "Legal Reasoning and Legal Culture: Our 'Vision' of Law" 2005 Stell LR 3-20

Gardner J "What is Tort Law for? Part 1. The Place of Corrective Justice" 2011 Law and Philosophy 1-50

Klare KE "Legal Culture and Transformative Constitutionalism" 1998 SAJHR 146-188

Klopper HB The Law of Third Party Compensation: In terms of the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 4th ed (LexisNexis Durban 2020)

Loubser M and Midgley R (eds) The Law of Delict in South Africa 3rd ed (Oxford University Press Cape Town 2017)

Mahery P "A Child's Potential Claim for Negligent Misdiagnosis: The Case of H v Fetal Assessment Centre" 2016 SAMJ 348-349

McKerron RG The Law of Delict 7th ed (Juta Cape Town 1971)

Midgley JR and Van der Walt JC Principles of Delict (LexisNexis Durban 2016)

Millard D Loss of Earning Capacity: It's Nature and Place in South African Law (LLD-thesis University of Johannesburg 2005)

Neethling J and Potgieter JM Law of Delict 8th ed (LexisNexis Durban 2020)

Neethling J and Potgieter JM "Defamation of School Teachers by Learners: Le Roux v Dey 2011 3 SA 274 (CC)" 2011 Obiter 721-730

Neethling J and Potgieter JM "Aksie weens Onregmatige Lyding vanweë Gestremdheid (Wrongful Life)" 2015 LitNet Akademies 364-373

Neethling J and Potgieter JM "Bemoeiing met 'n Uitsluitende Kontraktuele Verhouding Getroef deur Vryemededinging" 2017 LitNet Akademies 374-388

Osman F "The Consequences of the Statutory Regulation of Customary Law: An Examination of the South African Customary Law of Succession and Marriage" 2019 PELJ 1-24

Pauw P "Alternative Relief in Delictual Claims: A Step in the Right Direction" 2018 TSAR 176-182

Pauw P "Alternative Relief in Medical Malpractice Claims: Further Developments" 2019 TSAR 91-97

Rabie M "Die Eis om Onregmatige Lewe: Bestaanbaar in die Deliktereg of word die Gemenereg buite sy Perke Gestrek?" 2016 LitNet Akademies 502-531

Rautenbach C Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa 5th ed (LexisNexis Durban 2018

Rautenbach C "Case Law as an Authoritative Source of Customary Law: Piecemeal Recording of (Living) Customary Law?" 2019 PELJ 1-20

Skelton A "The South African Constitutional Court's Restorative Justice Jurisprudence" 2013 Restorative Justice 122-145

Van der Merwe NJ and Olivier PJJ Die Onregmatige Daad in die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg 6th ed (JP van der Walt Pretoria 1989)

Van Loggerenberg A "The Tenability of the Constitutional Court's Arguments in Support of the Possible Recognition of Wrongful-Life Claims in South Africa" 2017 SALJ 162-183

Van Marle K "Transformative Constitutionalism as/and Critique" 2009 Stell LR 286-301

Van Niekerk GJ "Amende Honorable and Ubuntu: An Intersection of Ars Boni et Aequi in African and Roman-Dutch Jurisprudence?" 2013 Fundamina 397-412

Visser CJ "Adjudicative Subsidiarity, the 'Horizontality Simpliciter' Approach and Personality Rights: Outlining an Integrated and Constitutional Reading Strategy to the Law of Personality" 2022 De Jure 124-142

Wessels AB "Wrongfulness in Pure Economic Loss Cases: The 'Traditional Approach' and the 'New Approach'" 2020 THRHR 151-169

Zitzke E "Stop the Illusory Nonsense! Teaching Transformative Delict" 2014 Acta Academica 52-76

Zitzke E "Constitutional Heedlessness and Over-Excitement in the Common Law of Delict's Development" 2015 CCR 259-290

Zitzke E "The History and Politics of Contemporary Common-Law Purism" 2017 Fundamina 185-230

Zitzke E "The Life Esidimeni Arbitration: Towards Transformative Constitutional Damages?" 2020 TSAR 419-440

Zitzke E "Decolonial Comparative Law: Thoughts from South Africa" 2022 RabelsZ 189-225

Case law

Carmichele v Minister of Safety and Security 2001 4 SA 938 (CC)

Democratic Alliance v African National Congress 2015 2 SA 232 (CC)

Friedman v Glicksman 1996 1 SA 1134 (W)

H v Fetal Assessment Centre 2015 2 SA 193 (CC)

Komape v Minister of Basic Education 2020 2 SA 347 (SCA)

Le Roux v Dey 2011 3 SA 274 (CC)

Masstores v Pick n Pay 2017 1 SA 613 (CC)

MEC for Health and Social Development, Gauteng v DZ obo WZ 2018 1 SA 335 (CC)

Mhlongo v Mhlongo 1937 NAC (N&T) 124

Mhlongo v Mhlongo 1938 (1) PH R29

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa: In re ex parte President of the Republic of South Africa 2000 2 SA 674 (CC)

Steward v Botha 2008 6 SA 310 (SCA)

The Citizen 1978 v McBride 2011 4 SA 191 (CC)


Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Electoral Act 73 of 1998

Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998

Reform of Customary Law of Succession and Regulation of Related Matters Act 11 of 2009

Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996



How to Cite

Zitzke, E. (2024). Justice Froneman and Transformative Delict. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 27, (Published on 11 June 2024) pp 1–24. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2024/v27i0a16888



Special Edition: A Tribute to Justice Froneman

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.