The Rt Hon. the Lord Johan Steyn

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Lord Johan van Zyl Steyn

Also Known As: "Baron Steyn of Swafield in the County of Norfolk", "The Rt Hon. the Lord Steyn"
Birthplace: Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
Death: November 28, 2017 (85)
Immediate Family:

Son of Izak van Zyl Steyn, b1c8d13e6f8g1h1 and Janet Lacey Lacy Steyn
Husband of Private
Ex-husband of Private
Father of Private; Private; Private and Private

Occupation: High Court Judge (retired)
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About The Rt Hon. the Lord Johan Steyn

Article about Lord Steyn in the Guardian:

His orbituary in Advocate April 2018:


From University of Cape Town website after he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007 by UCT:

Lord Steyn (Johan van Zijl Steyn) was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship after graduating with BS LLB from the University of Stellenbosch. He studied at University College in Oxford, then returned to South Africa where he joined the Cape Bar. In 1973 he emigrated to the UK. In 1985 he was appointed to the ranks of the Commercial Court. He was elevated to the Court of Appeal and shortly thereafter he was appointed a Law Lord and member of the Privy Council. His work, Democracy through Law: Selected speeches and judgments, was recently published.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,_Baron_Steyn

Johan van Zyl Steyn, Baron Steyn PC (born August 15, 1932) is a South African/English jurist, and until September 2005 a Law Lord.

Born in Cape Town in 1932 he studied law at the University of Stellenbosch before reading English as a Rhodes Scholar at University College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar in South Africa in 1958 and appointed senior counsel of the supreme court of South Africa in 1970.

As a result of his opposition to apartheid in his native South Africa, he settled in the UK in 1973 joining the English Bar and building a distinguished international commercial law practice. He married Susan Leonore in 1977, having two sons and two daughters from a previous marriage. He took silk in 1979 and was appointed a High Court Judge in 1985, a surprise appointment by the then Conservative Lord Chancellor Lord Hailsham. He was served as presiding judge of the Northern Circuit from 1989–1991 and was appointed Lord Justice of Appeal in 1992.

In 1995 he was elevated to a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and was created a life peer as Baron Steyn, of Swafield in the County of Norfolk. As a Law Lord he achieved prominence for his liberal views and espousal of human rights. He was a fierce critic of Augusto Pinochet's claim to stand immune from prosecution. His record of open criticism of Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay led to pressure from the UK government that he make himself unavailable for the hearing on the indefinite detention of suspects under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 that began on October 4, 2004. The decision in the latter case caused the government to review its policy of indefinite detention of terror suspects and led to the equally controversial Terrorism Bill 2005. His judicial work in the House of Lords has been instrumental in weaving the Human Rights Act 1998 into the fabric of English law. He also drew upon his background as a commercial lawyer and his contribution to this area of law cannot be overlooked.

He was one of the few senior jurists to support calls for modernisation of the English legal system and abolition of the role of Lord Chancellor. Whilst a Lord of Appeal he refrained from speaking in the House, instead expressing his views on democracy and human rights through judgments and lectures.

He retired as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary on September 30, 2005. Lord Mance was elevated from Lord Justice of Appeal on October 1, 2005 to replace him. Since his retirement he has assumed the role of chairman of the human rights organisation JUSTICE and has been vocal in his criticism of Tony Blair's government and its approach to human rights. He has expressed grave misgivings over the proposed powers to allow detention without trial and about the use of existing anti-terror powers.

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The Rt Hon. the Lord Johan Steyn's Timeline

August 15, 1932
Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
November 28, 2017
Age 85