A History of the Natal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa during the Judge Presidency of Richard Feetham (1930-1939) : with particular reference to the bench and bar.
Richard Feetham was Judge President of the Natal Provincial Division from 1 May 1930 to 18 July 1939. He succeeded Dove Wilson who was an able but not a very learned or dynamic Judge President. Thus, at the time of his appointment the Natal Court and its judgments were treated with little respect by the other provincial divisions. Feetham JP, unlike his predecessor, was not only a scholar with a towering intellect but a man endowed with outstanding leadership qualities. He was thus ideally suited to bring about a change for the better in the status of the Natal Court. He did this by taking a dynamic lead and presided over and delivered a high proportion of the courts' judgments. He also set his brethren an excellent example by the high standard he set for himself and his court and which they emulated. This thesis thus also covers the careers of these puisne and acting puisne judges and their contribution towards the better administration of justice in Natal. In 1930 there existed in Natal a disinct system of dual practice with a de facto Bar. This system had been a vexed question in the minds of Natal lawyers for two decades but when Feetham JP was confronted with it he immediately addressed the controversial issue and brought about the necessary reforms to divide the legal profession and bring Natal into line with the rest of South Africa. This reform raised the quality of pleading and manner in which the law was presented. It also provided the Natal Bench with able personnel for the future from within Natal. Accordingly this thesis also assesses the careers of the main legal practitioners of that period and their contribution towards the development of the administration of justice in Natal. In less than ten years Feetham JP thus transformed the Natal Provincial Division from being weak and ineffectual to a position where it became a division respected for its Bench, judgments and legal profession. During the course of time history has confirmed the overall significance of Richard Feetham's Judge Presidency.