Justice Wille (Supreme High Court of South Africa) applauds UNIDROIT Principles

Justice Wille came to Rome to meet with jurists from 17 countries that participated in UNIDROIT’s International Programme for Law and Development.

“The UNIDROIT Principles are a point of reference where national laws cannot reach or do not provide concrete solutions,” said Eduard Derek Wille, Supreme High Court Justice of South Africa.

Justice Wille spoke with press agency Dire, focusing on the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) and on the value of its Principles of International Commercial Contracts. With experience on high-profile cases going back to the 1980s, Justice Wille came to Rome to meet jurists, state lawyers and legislative drafters, who participated in the courses organised by UNIDROIT, at its seat in via Panisperna, at Villa Aldobrandini, through 7 July. Justice Wille had participated in last year’s edition of the IPLD and returned this year to share his experience.

The International Programme for Law and Development is financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in this edition was attended by 22 jurists from 17 African countries. Wille spoke about his experience in Cape Town, South Africa and illustrated many cases where UNIDROIT’s instruments were useful to interpret national law in cases where national law was clear or would not solve a matter directly.

“Participants in this course should study the Institute’s Principles because often, in their work as lawyers or magistrates, they will find themselves in situations where national regulations won’t give enough answers”, says Justice Wille.

“Thus, if the Constitution allows for it, they will be able to refer to these precious Principles, that were developed over a long period of time; they will be able to use them to render decisions, and such choices will be assimilated into legal systems and will set precedents to be followed, as happened in South Africa, where they have become part of the legislation”.

Wille continued, “Our country has a magnificent Constitution, but, as we all know, applying it is another issue. Sections 232 and 233 of South Africa’s Constitution allow and even require judges to apply international principles in areas not regulated by domestic norms or where domestic norms are insufficient”. UNIDROIT’s instruments are available to everyone. “Even other African countries, such as Kenya, also provide for similar opportunities in their respective constitutions,” emphasised Wille. “My message to magistrates, lawyers, judges and legislative drafters who may encounter difficulties in their work, is that there are solutions: there is a bridge that allows you to cross dangerous waters, because you can apply the UNIDROIT Principles”.

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