South Africa: Electoral Court

Reviewed April 2019

See also: Electoral Commission Act of 1996

The Electoral Court is a specialist court bearing the highest authority on matters relating to elections, has the same status as the Supreme Court and is subordinate only to the Constitutional Court. It replaced the Special Electoral Court that was created to oversee the 1994 elections.

Composition of the Electoral Court

The Electoral Court is comprised of five members who are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission as follows (Electoral Commission 1996, 19(1)):

  • A chairperson, who is a judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court;
  • Two judges of the Supreme Court; and
  • Two other members who are South African citizens.

Term of office and conditions of service

The terms of office, conditions of service, remuneration, leave and other benefits, of the Electoral Court members are determined by the President (Electoral Commission 1996, 19, (2)). However, the Court can make recommendations to the National Assembly for acts of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence of a member of the commission upon the Electoral Courts investigation (Electoral Commission 1996, 19, (7)).

Powers, Duties and Functions of the Electoral Court

The Electoral Court may review any decisions of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) relating to an electoral matter and such a review must be administered and disposed of as quickly as possible. Additionally:

  • The Court hears and rules on appeals against decisions of the IEC, as determined the chairperson of the Court. It should be noted that within three days of receiving written submissions, these applications should be ruled on (Electoral Commission 1996 20,(2)).
  • The Court makes rules, with regards to electoral disputes, complaints and breaches arising from the Electoral Code of Conduct.

Rules and proceedures

The Electoral Court is empowered to determine its own practice and procedures and make its own rules (Electoral Commission 1996, 20,(3)):

Judges of the Electoral Court

Currently Judge J Shongwe is the Chairperson and the two judges of the Supreme Court are Judge S Moshidi and WL Wepener.


ELECTORAL COMMISSION ACT 1996, [www] (Accessed 13 July 2016).

ELECTORAL ACT 1993 Act 2002 or 1993.