ISSN 1991-3877 printed version
ISSN 2413-3108 online version



Scope and editorial policy

The SA Crime Quarterly, published by the Institute for Security Studies, provides concise analysis of developments in crime trends, and the state’s response. The SA Crime Quarterly has replaced the Nedbank Crime Index.
South African Crime Quarterly is an inter–disciplinary peer–reviewed journal that promotes professional discourse and the publication of research on the subjects of crime, criminal justice, crime prevention, and related matters including state and non–state responses to crime and violence.
South Africa is the primary focus for the journal but articles on the above mentioned subjects that reflect research and analysis from other African countries are considered for publication, if they are of relevance to South Africa.
SACQ is an applied policy journal. Its audience includes policy makers, criminal justice practitioners and civil society researchers and analysts, including the academy.
The purpose of the journal is to inform and influence policy making on violence prevention, crime reduction and criminal justice. Articles submitted to SACQ are double–blind peer–reviewed before publication.
From time to time SACQ publishes themed editions. The editor would welcome suggestions. Calls for submissions for themed editions will be published on the ISS website.


Manuscript format and layout

Prospective authors are asked to take note of the following information:

  • Articles should be between 3000 and 5000 words
  • Language and tone:
    • The article should be written in an accessible way that non–experts are able to read and understand the piece. Please avoid using jargon as far as possible and when jargon is used (especially legal) it must be explained.
  • Keep sentences short and paragraphs short.
  • The journal is layed–out in two columns. Please keep subheadings short so that they fit on one line of a column if possible.
  • As far as the content is concerned:
    • A 100–150 word abstract must be included. This should be a clear summary that draws readers in to the article
    • The topic being covered should be linked to current events, or to policy debates, legislation etc.
    • we do want to hear your opinion of the issue – so positions can be taken. But, there should always be a clear presentation of the facts, background to the issue, etc as well.
  • Format:
    • Use sub–headings wherever possible (to guide busy readers, and break up text)
    • Tables, boxes, bullet points, graphs most welcome
    • Please suggest a title for the article. It should be a punchy title with a descriptive subtitle.
    • Endnotes are used for all referencing (no sources in the text in brackets please).
    • A bibliography should precede endnotes (please see the SACQ style guide on the SACQ website for a description of the appropriate referencing style).
    • Acknowledgements can be made at the end of the article if necessary.


  1. Check the SACQ style guide

    The journal uses endnotes rather than footnotes. It will save time if from the beginning you shape your case note in the correct style.

  2. The Introduction

    This identifies the area of law involved, the significance of the case and its central legal issue. The idea is to hook in the readers, alerting them to a change to or a clarification to or a wrong interpretation of the law.
    The Introduction provides a reason why they must continue reading. You may like to be provocative by saying what you intend to argue – e.g. that the case was wrongly decided / it constitutes good precedent / provides needed clarity etc. But be concise.

  3. A summary of the law before the case

    Provide a summary of the existing law so that the reader can understand the significance of the case. This section may involve reference to the common law or part of a statute and the leading cases. It could be that the case you intend discussing is the first to interpret a statute – in which case your introduction may explain what you understand the purpose/mischief behind the statute.
    NOTE: This section might more logically follow the next section.

  4. The facts of the case
  5. This is a summary, clearly reported, avoiding words like Respondent, Applicant or Appellant which could cause the Reader to lose track of who is who. Rather opt for descriptors like buyer, seller, employer, lessor etc. Unnecessary facts and dates should be pruned. Significant conflicting evidence should be briefly noted. In this section you are reporting, not judging or evaluating and this is not a long section. Ask yourself whether a detail has any bearing on the case at all. If not, cut. (Although sometimes a graphic detail makes the case memorable, like a dead snail in a ginger–beer bottle, as in Donoghue v Stevenson) Try and tell the story in an engaging way.

  6. Presenting the court’s decision

    The theoretical key to the common law system of precedent is the distinction between the ratio decidendi and obiter dicta in a case. Your task is to isolate that portion of the judgment which contains the ratio. But as someone said “An obiter dictum in one case may become ratio decidendi in the next.” Similarly, a minority judgment may find approval in a subsequent case. So alongside the ratio you may want to refer to a hypothetic consideration raised in obiter or to the minority judgment.

  7. The significance of the case

    This section amplifies the promise made in the Introduction. Here your critical voice must come through and you move from the descriptive factual account to an analytical and evaluative stage. Key questions to answer are:

    • Was the court’s decision appropriate?
      The guidelines for case notes were drafted by Prof Alan Rycroft who holds the chair in Commercial Law and is Deputy Dean of the faculty of law at the University of Cape Town.
    • Does this decision change / conform with existing law? Was the reasoning consistent with previous reasoning in similar cases? Is it likely that the decision will significantly influence existing law?
    • Did the court adequately justify its reasoning? Was its interpretation of the law appropriate? Was the reasoning logical / consistent? Did the court consider all / omit some issues and arguments? And, if there was omission, Does this weaken the merit of the decision?
    • What are the policy implications of the decision? Are there alternative approaches which could lead to more appropriate public policy in this area?
    • This section should also offer an analysis or description of existing literature about the case you are discussing.
    • If your finding is that the decision creates legal precedent, or conversely, upholds legal precedent, what does that mean? What are the implications for the legal and public policy contexts in which this decision sits?

  8. Do not assume that judges get it right

    It is helpful to remember that they have chosen one approach and that the other party fought the case believing in another approach. You should feel free, if you can justify it with sound reasons, to be politely critical of the judge. Do not be intimidated by the thought that you are exposing yourself in print – the worst that can happen is that someone else will join the debate.

    You may be aware of the guidance given to first–year law students as to how to use a case note – they are told to use the FIRAC model (Facts, Issue, Rule of Law, Application, and Conclusion). This is not a bad model to keep in mind for an academic case note.

  9. Choose a title which is descriptive of the content

    While it is amusing to read humorous titles, if you want to attract a wide readership the title will be the single most significant way for readers to find it. As NRF rating measures ‘impact’ you might like to increase your chances of being cited elsewhere with a title which is accurate as to its content.



If you would like to contribute a letter or an article to SACQ contact the editor, Prof Kelley Moult


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