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Refereed articles

The horizontal application of constitutional rights in a comparative perspective

Danwood Chirwa tackles the possible horizontal application of constitutional rights from a comparative perspective. In a world in which private actors often exert enormous influence, it is not surprising that a trend has emerged to extend the protection of constitutional rights beyond the traditional sphere.

The author points out that even traditional constitutions, such as those of the USA and Canada, recognise that private conduct may, in limited circumstances, fall within the reach of constitutional rights. The constitutions of both Ireland and South Africa explicitly permit the application of constitutional rights between non-state actors. Although there has been some controversy about the exact scope of the horizontal application in the South African literature, the author concludes that this should not lead to a limited role for the constitution and proposes a specific understanding of the South African Constitution in order to ensure this.

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