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.
Justice O’Regan holds BA and LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town as well as an LLM from the University of Sydney and a PhD from the University of London (London School of Economics and Political Science). She has been awarded four honorary doctorates. She is an honorary professor at the University of Cape Town, a visiting professor at the University of Oxford, and in 2012 spent some months as a Hauser Global Visiting Professor at NYU. She was born in Liverpool into a large Catholic family of Irish immigrants. She moved to Cape Town when she was seven. Her mother was a dentist from a "very political household"; her father was a doctor who became active in poor Catholic communities and those subjected to forced removals. Justice O’Regan is married to a senior advocate and they have two children.