Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Voet and the Constitution by way of introduction

On the wall in my office there is a quote by Elizabeth (one of my co-bloggers)that reads 'I hope this constitutional sh*t isn't contagious'. Although that was said as part of some friendly rivalry with the Public Law Department at UCT it reflects some of the motivation for starting this blog.

I have a keen interest in private law and the relations between private individuals (both human and corporate). In particular, I am interested in the extent to which we can expect private individuals to comply with and promote the values of the South African constitution in their relations with other people. This is the broad area that I am writing my thesis on and so this blog will hopefully have my half formed thoughts and mutterings on the subject as I go along.

At this point I am not sure exactly where I stand on the relationship between the values of the Constitution and private individuals. I know that in my personal relations I hope to life a life of integrity that exemplifies many of the values of the Constitution. However, I believe there is a clear distinction between how I should live my life and how society should be structured. During my undergrad I had an excellent series of lectures by Kristina Bentley on Two Concepts of Liberty by Isaiah Berlin that has always made me mindful of the dangers of government promoting a vision of what type of person everyone should be. At the same time I am mindful of the fact that South Africa is filled with people who are racist, parochial or bigoted. There is a dire need for courts and government to promote tolerance and convince people of the importance of constitutional values.

I am not sure how these (and other) concerns should be balanced. Hopefully in the next year I will have some tentative conclusions. I am going to be looking in particular at the Courts duty (and perhaps discretion) to develop the common law. It is this question that gives this post its name (On Voet and the Constitution).

I have other broader interests in public, private and international law. So hopefully you will see some posts on those topics to.

I will leave it to my co-bloggers to write their own introductions and let you know their interests. Please feel free to send me an email at david.watson[at] if you would like to join our collaboration or would like to advertize you blog.


  1. Dave: who is Katherine?
    Calli and Cheri

  2. Fail! I have edited. Can't believe I got Queen Elizabeth mixed up with that tyrant Catherine the Great

  3. Don't worry Dave. I get that all the time.