The Interaction between Section 233 of the South African Constitution and the Commentaries to the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital

Author Enelia Jansen van Rensburg

ISSN: 2522-3062
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Mercantile Law, University of Stellenbosch
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 53 Issue 1, p. 32 – 67


The Commentaries to the OECD’s Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital are at times consulted by South African courts when double taxation agreements are interpreted. The question considered in this article is the nature of the interaction, if any, between these Commentaries and section 233 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Section 233 requires a court to prefer a reasonable interpretation of legislation that is consistent with international law over other interpretations that are not consistent with international law.

The contribution analyses various aspects of the wording of section 233, including the meaning of the phrase ‘international law’. It points out the various roles that transnational sources may play with regard to section 233, for example these sources may either constitute the ‘international law’ to which section 233 refers, or they may be aids to the interpretation of those sources that constitute ‘international law’. The contribution considers which of these roles the Commentaries are most likely to play for purposes of section 233.