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The advocates and judges of the superior courts were usually trained in England and tended to rely on their English treatises.
As a result of such factors, the Roman-Dutch law of the Cape Colony was overlaid with a heavy English law influence.
According to this policy, indigenous people could rule themselves according to indigenous law in certain matters, for example rules of marriage and succession.
The colonial state retained exclusive jurisdiction over matters such as serious crime.
While many legal doctrines and the arrangement of the law in general can be traced to a civilian heritage, court procedure owes much to the common law tradition, with adversarial trial, detailed case reports (which include dissenting judgments), and adherence to precedent.
In 1990, the government began to negotiate with its opponents, a process that resulted in the provides for the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government.However, ‘apartheid’ became the official South African government policy following the electoral victory of the National Party in 1948.Key legislation creating this policy included the Population Registration Act 30 of 1950 (classifying the South African population into ‘racial groups’); the Group Areas Act 41 of 1950 (providing for the segregation of residential and other areas) and a plethora of other acts designed to segregate every aspect of life, including public administration, education, health services, employment, transport and public amenities.Following this amalgamation, the legal systems of the four territories were made more consistent, partly through legislative innovation, and partly through the activities of the new Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, the highest court country-wide in terms of the 1909 South Africa Act.Today, many commentators regard the resulting legal system as a truly hybrid system, a mix of English common law and civilian Roman-Dutch legal principles.