FXI Law Clinic Cases

The FXI has contributed to the body of knowledge on freedom of expression in South Africa through cases undertaken by the FXI Law Clinic. The FXI Law Clinic has intervened in over 200 freedom of expression related matters since its inception. 

Brief history of the FXI Law Clinic

The Media Defence Trust was established in 1989 in response to the wave of state action against the media, such as the closure of newspapers and detention of journalists. In its six years of establishment the Media Defence Trust was the sole supporter and defender of independent media and journalists. The Media Defence Trust was incorporated into the FXI in 1994, at the request of its administrators, and became the Defence Fund of the FXI. The Defence Fund was re-launched as the Freedom of Expression Defence Fund in 1997 to reflect the broadening of its role to include all cases involving freedom of expression and access to information. The Freedom of Expression Institute Law Clinic was established in 2005 and is accredited by the Law Society of South Africa.

Hamata v Peninsula Technikon
This matter relates to the refusal of the applicant to use a lawyer of their choosing during a disciplinary hearing.

The rule has always stated that during a disciplinary hearing that the student may be represented by a fellow student or by member of staff. The rule did not expressly exclude the use of external counsel and the IDC had the discretion to allow outside counsel, however they did not use this discretion and did not allow external counsel.

The court held that the IDC is a The IDC is a legal construct and it can only exercise those powers which those who brought it into being intended it to have. A power to allow representation of a kind other than that which has been deliberately restricted to achieve a particular purpose may of course result in that purpose sometimes being frustrated and there is certainly no express conferment of such a power. The court held that IDC did not have discretion to exclude the use of external counsel.
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May 17 2002 By Bongani Phiri