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Abstract

The old authorities have been quoted in, and relied on by, the courts of the Cape and subsequently in the other territories making up the Republic of South Africa from the foundation of the colony by the Dutch East India Company in the middle of the seventeenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century not only were the main authorities extensively quoted in the courts but the doctrines they contained were being incorporated in the textbooks that were being written. And that is still the position. It is not likely that the new generation of judges to be appointed in the next few decades will frequently consult the old authorities for guidance but the civil component of the law, already anchored in the judgments of the courts and the textbooks, will forever be part of the law. When the old authorities are consulted, it is likely that those used will primarily be those available in English translation.

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