Professor Kate O’Regan

Justice O’Regan retired last term from the South African Constitutional Court (to which she was appointed by Nelson Mandela when it was first constituted in 1994).   She will teach for the BCL/Mjur course on Socio-Economic Rights and Substantive Equality.

Faculty of Law University of Oxford Jan 2010

The University has appointed Kate O’Regan as a Visiting Professor

Yale Law School – 2010

April 19-Justice Kate O’Regan Discusses Service at South African Constitutional Court –CANCELLED


The Honorable Kate O’Regan, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will deliver the 2009-2010 Judge Jon O.   Newman Lecture on Global Justice on Monday, April 19, 2010, at Yale Law School.   Justice O’Regan will discuss “Branching out? Reflections on Fifteen Years at the South African Constitutional Court.” The lecture begins at 4:30 p.m. in Room 127.   It is free and open to the public.   A reception will follow in the Alumni Reading Room.  

Kate O’Regan is currently chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council and a visiting professor of law at the University of Oxford.   She was appointed judge to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and served until her retirement in 2009.   She holds a B.A.   and LL.B.   from the University of Cape Town, an LL.M.   from the University of Sydney, and a Ph.D.   from the London School of Economics.

Prior to being appointed to the Constitutional Court, she worked as an attorney and a law professor, specializing in labor law, land rights, race and gender equality, and constitutional law.



Kate O’Regan was a judge in the Constitutional Court of South Africa.[1] She was appointed to the bench in 1994 by Nelson Mandela.   She hold a B.A.   and LL.B.   from the University of Cape Town, an LL.M.   from the University of Sydney and a Ph.D.   from the London School of Economics.   Prior to being appointed to the Constitutional Court she was an associate professor at the University of Cape Town and an attorney at Bowman Gilfillan.   She retired in October 2009.



Personal details

Kate O’Regan was born in Liverpool, England.   She grew up in Cape Town.   She obtained her B.A.   from the University of Cape Town in 1978 and her LL.B.   (cum laude) from the same university in 1980, an LL.M.   from the University of Sydney with first class honours in 1981 and a Ph.D.   from the University of London (London School of Economics) in 1988.

For four years in the 1980s she practised as an attorney in Johannesburg specialising in labour law and land rights law.   During this period she acted for a wide range of trade unions, anti-apartheid organisations and several communities facing the threat of evictions under apartheid land policy.

In 1988, she joined the University of Cape Town Labour Law Unit as a researcher.   In 1990, she became a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at UCT.   Over the next five years, she was a founder member of both the Law, Race and Gender Research project and the Institute for Development Law at UCT.   She was also an advisor to the African National Congress on land claims legislation, and to the National Manpower Commission on gender equality law.   She also served as a trustee of the Legal Resources Trust.

In this period she edited (with Christina Murray) a book on forced removals and the law entitled No Place to Rest; as well as the IMSSA Arbitration Digest, a digest of labour arbitration decisions.   She was also one of the authors of A Charter for Social Justice, a contribution to the South African Bill of Rights debate.   She also wrote numerous articles that were published in academic journals.

In 1994, aged 37, she was appointed as a judge to the newly formed Constitutional Court.   She has served as a judge of the Court since.   Her term of office on the Court will end in October 2009.   She acted as Deputy Chief Justice in the absence of Justice Moseneke from February to May 2008.

In 2008, she was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as chairperson of the newly established Internal Justice Council of the United Nations.   The Council has been established to help ensure independence, professionalism and accountability in the internal administration of justice within the United Nations.   One of the primary responsibilities of the Council is to identify suitable candidates for appointment as judges of the UN Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal and to make recommendations to the General Assembly for the appointment of such judges.   Her term of office is for four years.

She has continued her interest in academic teaching during her tenure as a judge.   She has served as an honorary professor at the University of South Africa and is currently an honorary professor at the University of Cape Town.   She has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2000), the University of Cape Town (2004) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (2008).   She is also an honorary bencher of Lincoln’s Inn (2007).

She has been an honorary consulting editor of the South African Law Reports since 1997 and serves on the editorial board of many South African legal publications.

Judge O’Regan is married to an advocate and they have two teenaged children.

Published by Graham Giles

Cape History and history of families of Louw, Muller, Bowker, Giles

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