4th Imperative of the Rule of Law

All law must be applied fairly, impartially, and without fear, favour or prejudice.


While the law itself must adhere to certain rules, the enforcement and administration of the law must also be procedurally appropriate.


Fairness – The requirement of fairness is tested according to what appears fair, in the particular circumstances, to a fair-minded individual. Even an individual arrested on suspicion of having committed a most reprehensible crime must be treated with reasonable decorum, and may not, in any circumstances, be abused. In its application the law must always be even-handed.

Impartiality – Every judicial or quasi-judicial decision must be clothed in the language of reason and must be conveyed in such a way that guilt is never seen to be presumed.

Fear – No judicial or quasi-judicial decision may be subjected to the consideration of the apprehension of personal risk to the adjudicator.


Core – Sections 165(2), 181(2), 196(2) of the Constitution.

Supporting – Sections 174(7), 179(4), 195(1) of the Constitution.

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The Rule of Law Project is an initiative of the Free Market Foundation (www.freemarketfoundation.com) and is dedicated to giving substance to section 1(c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which provides for the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.