The annual Bram Fischer Memorial Lecture was given this year by Justice Catherine O'Regan, who spoke on Fidelity to Law: How Bram Fischer Illuminates a Perennial Debate. The memorial lecture is in honour of Bram Fischer QC (Orange Free State & New College 1931), who defended Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the liberation movement when on trial for their lives, and who himself died in imprisonment in 1975. Before the lecture, Rhodes House hosted Professor Alex Duncan ‘In Conversation’ with Ms Ruth Rice & Ms Ilse Fischer Wilson, daughters of Bram Fischer. 

Justice Catherine O’Regan was appointed as judge to the newly formed South African Constitutional Court in 1994, serving the maximum term of 15 years. From 2008 to 2012, she was the inaugural chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, a body established to help ensure the independence, professionalism and accountability of the new system of internal justice within the United Nations. A member of the International Monetary Fund Administrative Tribunal since 2010, she was appointed as President in 2011. She has served as a member of the World Bank Sanctions Board since 2011, and is an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia.

Justice O’Regan is an honorary bencher of Lincoln’s Inn (2007) and an elected honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009). Since 1997, she has been an honorary consulting editor of the South African Law Reports and serves on the editorial board of many South African legal publications. She has been closely involved with the establishment of the South African Legal Information Institute since 2005. Based on the principle of free access to law, the Institute reports judgments of courts across Southern Africa www.saflii.org. Justice O’Regan also serves in different capacities on the boards of several non-governmental organisations in the field of human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law, including Corruption Watch, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and the Equal Rights Trust.

Below you can view the 2016 Bram Fischer lecture in full: