This article is not intended for everyone studying law. Some students do not see the law as an interconnected web nor do they want to. Other’s simply do not notice the web at all. It is not absolutely imperative to see the web in order to obtain the llb degree, but it will certainly make your life easier if you see it and recoginise the patterns and cases.
At the beginning of my second year studying law i began to notice that certain cases kept cropping up over and over again. These cases like s v Makwanyane and so forth had an all encompassing character to them, they absorbed many important legal principles. Although the Makwanyane case is a constitutional case, other cases need not be. I then started noticing an overlap of certain legal principals that crossover from one subject to another. It made my learning life easier because i recognised the case, the importance of the case and the reasons for the courts decisions.
The linking between constitutional law, criminal law, admin law, interpretation of statutes, international law and even delict cannot be ignored. I have saved hundreds of hours of study time because i saw the overlapping principles and the cases. If one looks at many of the groundbreaking constitutional cases you will find significant overlapping of principles. eg are Grootboom, Carmichle, bhe, makwanyane, reddy just to name a few off hand.
Im not going to go in depth explaining the principles and the courts reasoning, that’s for you to do. But once you have done the work you will notice the importance of identifying the web. It will make your study of the law so much easier and less time consuming. You will also understand your work better.
In fact there is some science behind this, scientists in the USA have noted the overlapping of legal principles and cases. This is based on the same principles we have here, those principles concerning stare decesis or precedent. You can read about it here >> http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=642863
keep this in mind next time you are reading a case, take a look at the principles involved, the reasons for the decision and whether other facets of law are applicable