Administrative Bias in South Africa


  • E S Nwauche North West University(Potchefstroom Campus)



bias, judicial review, institutional bias, European Convention of Human Rights



This article reviews the interpretation of section 6(2)(a)ii of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act which makes an administrator “biased or reasonably suspected of bias” a ground of judicial review. In this regard, the paper reviews the determination of administrative bias in South Africa especially highlighting the concept of institutional bias. The paper notes that inspite of the formulation of the bias ground of review the test for administrative bias is the reasonable apprehension test laid down in the case of President of South Africa v South African Rugby Football Union(2) which on close examination is not the same thing. Accordingly the paper urges an alternative interpretation that is based on the reasonable suspicion test enunciated in BTR Industries South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Metal and Allied Workers Union and R v Roberts. Within this context, the paper constructs a model for interpreting the bias ground of review that combines the reasonable suspicion test as interpreted in BTR Industries and R v Roberts, the possibility of the waiver of administrative bias, the curative mechanism of administrative appeal as well as some level of judicial review exemplified by the jurisprudence of article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights, especially in the light of the contemplation of the South African Magistrate Court as a jurisdictional route of judicial review.




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Register of legislation

Companies Act 61 of 1973 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 Promotion of Administrative Justice Amendment Act 53 of 2002 State Tender Board Act 86 of 1968

Treaties and other international sources

European Convention on Human Rights 1950

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Parag v Ladysmith City Council 1961 (3) SA 714 (N)

Permanent Secretary, Department of Education and Welfare, Eastern Cape v

Ed-U-College (PE) (Section 21) 2001 (2) SA 1 President of the Republic of

South Africa v South Africa Rugby Football Union

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(W) Runa Begum v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council [2003] 1 All ER

S v Roberts 1999 (4) SA 915 (SCA) SACCAWU v Irvin & Johnson Ltd

(Seafoods Division Fish Processing) 2000 (3)

SA 705 (CC) Sager v Smith 2001 (3) SA 1004 (SCA) Salesi v Italy (1993) 26

EHRR 187 Schulte v Van der Berg and others NNO 1991 (3) SA 717 (C) Slade v

Pretoria Rent Board 1943 TPD 131 Slagment v Building, Construction and Allied

Workers’ Union 1995 (1) SA 742 Sole v Cullinan NO and others [2003] 3 All SA

(LesCA) Transnet Ltd v Goodman Bros (Pty) 2001 (12) SA 853 (SCA)

Umfolozi Transport (Edms) Bpk v Minister van Vervoer en andere [1997] 2 All SA 548 (A)



How to Cite

Nwauche, E. S. (2017). Administrative Bias in South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 8(1), 35–75.




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