Balancing ‘equality of respect’ with freedom of expression: The actio iniuriarum and hate speech

Authors J Burchell

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: Emeritus Professor and Fellow of the University of Cape Town
Source: Acta Juridica, 2019, p. 203 – 227


This essay begins with a brief tribute to Emeritus Professor Danie Visser, a very close friend and respected colleague. The essay then evaluates the common-law protection of dignity in the South African law of delict, as well as criminal law, and examines the role of the courts in balancing this right to individual dignity with freedom of expression against the backdrop of recent draft legislation aimed at curbing hate speech. The essay favours the established common-law protection of dignity (supplemented by existing statutory remedies) and questions the need for further legislation on hate speech. The author also highlights the role of education in preventing hate speech.