Re-viewing the principles of self-review of administrative decisions by organs of state in South Africa

Section 33 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (hereafter “the Constitution”) states that everyone has the right to administrative action which is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. To whom does the right apply, however? Does the right extend to organs of state, justifying the judicial review of their own administrative action? Numerous cases have been brought, especially where the Law of Contract was concerned, where organs of state sought the review of their own administrative action. Where an organ of state seeks to review its own decision, legality review must be relied on, which has implications when the application for review was delayed. Is self-review fair where the parties are unequal? The aim of this paper is to examine the principles of self-review of administrative action by organs of state in South Africa by not only looking at the development of this concept, but also at possible alternatives to self-review, its benefits and disadvantages.