Grocott's Mail

Landmark judgment for children


This week in the Supreme Court of Appeal, judgment was handed down that will affect the protection of children’s rights when they are participat­ing in public interest litigation.

It is also an important judgment for all vulnerable groups of people whose rights of confidenti­ality are pro- tected through public interest litigation.

The children were represente­d by the Centre for Child Law, assisted by the Legal Resources Centre.

The case involved a group of 37 English-speaking pupils placed in Hoërskool Fochville, an Afrikaans single-medium school, by the Department of Basic Education, due to a shortage of spaces.

Hoërskool Fochville opposed the decision to enrol these pupils and took the department to court.

The Centre for Child Law and Legal Resources Centre represente­d the pupils.

As part of this process, the children filled in questionna­ires about their experience­s at the school.They would be represente­d anonymousl­y.

The school demanded to see the questionna­ires but the Centre for Child Law refused to hand them over.

The matter was taken to the Johannesbu­rg High Court, which ordered the Centre to allow the school to inspect the original questionna­ires and gave a cost order against it.

The two organisati­ons appealed the decision.

The Supreme Court of Appeal concluded that the High Court did not attach sufficient weight to the rights of the children to confidenti­ality.

It overturned the decision of the High Court and the Centre does not have to disclose the questionna­ires to the school.

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