27 May 2016

Lemoenkloof Guest House and Conference Venue, Paarl


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There is unfortunately no funding available for travel or accommodation costs, excepted for the  invited speakers and attendees.
Please book your own accommodation at Lemoenkloof or in Paarl as well as travel to and from the Airport


There are shuttle services available for travel to and from the airport and Paarl


The School of Law, University of Edinburgh and the Faculty of Law, North-West University organise a joint one day workshop on “Custom, oral history and law: writing South African legal history” on 27 May 2016 at Lemoenkloof Guest and Conference Centre, Paarl.

The financial support of the National Research Foundation is hereby acknowledged with appreciation. The opinions expressed at the workshop will, however, be those of the participants.


The legal history of the SA common law (mixed legal jurisdiction of Roman Dutch law and English law) and the religious legal systems (Hindu, Jewish and Islamic law) is well known. Only a few attempts have been made to write an African legal history and sometimes these histories relate to a specific issue or time. There is a need to now explore the interaction of legal history and African customary law. The Constitutional Court indicated on several occasions the need to establish what the "living law" is. Recent events in SA, however, also demonstrated the need for young South Africans, and even more so SA scholars, to understand and know the legal history of its country. But to arrive at this goal a common methodology must be found.

The NRF granted funding for a joint workshop on “Custom, oral history and law: Writing South African legal history” between the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Law, North-West University. The expected outcomes of the workshop are to:

- invite national and international multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary scholars to discuss the comparative methodologies of histories of custom, oral history and law relating to the writing of South African legal history;

- develop a common methodology for the writing of a SA legal history relating to custom, oral history and law;

- create a network of scholars working on the comparative methodologies of legal history; and

- publish a peer reviewed book (published by an international publisher) relating to the comparative methodologies of history relating to the writing of a SA legal history relating to custom, oral history and law.

The research focus of the event will be law and specifically African Customary law and legal history.


Please register before 20 May 2016 at

Registration costs: R420

Contact Us

Any queries - please contact Mpho Tlale at; Cell: 061 826 9109.

Willemien du Plessis - 

Paul du Plessis

Conference Organisers