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Refusal of bail - Can I appeal to the High Court?

You find yourself accused of committing a crime. The SAPS arrests you for the alleged offence. Your criminal law attorney brings a formal bail application in the Magistrate’s Court, but this is refused by the Magistrate. You are still in custody despite your innocence. Is this the end of the road?

Section 65(1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No 51 of 1977) as amended, ensures you the right to appeal this refusal by the Magistrate’s Court of your bail application, to a superior Court or Judge who has the relevant jurisdiction. This appeal can be brought on the grounds of refusal, or, alternatively, if you feel aggrieved by the bail conditions placed on you.

You can read the relevant legislation here:



How will this process work?

Your criminal law attorney will draft a notice of appeal against the judgement in the Magistrate’s Court on your behalf. As the accused, you will have to sign a power of attorney to enable your criminal law attorney to assist you. Your attorney will then serve the notice of appeal on the Clerk of the Court, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Magistrate who refused your bail application. At the same time, your criminal law attorney will also attempt to obtain the reasons of refusal from the Magistrate. If necessary, your attorney will brief council and appoint an advocate to assist you in your application. This is to ensure that you have the best criminal law team in your corner!

After all the processes have been finalised, the Registrar of the High Court will issue and serve a notice of set down for the appeal to be heard.

The Court and/or Judge hearing the bail appeal can come to one of the following decisions:

  • Confirm the refusal of the bail application; or
  • Set aside the judgement of the Magistrate and grant bail in the amount and upon conditions that it deems fit.

The High Court will only set aside the decision of the Magistrate’s Court if it is convinced that the ruling was wrong (Section 65(4)) Thus, the Judge attending to this appeal will not interfere lightly with the exercising by the Magistrate of its discretion in the bail application. Keep in mind that the DPP can also appeal against the granting of bail by the Judge in the High Court.

It is always important to keep a good criminal law attorney’s number (087 255 9777) on your phone in case of emergencies. If you have any enquiries, please send an email to admin@hfglaw.co.za or visit our website at hfglaw.co.za/blogs/ for any assistance.


Criminal Court Practice 2017 (LEAD) Practice Guide
Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No 51 of 1977) as amended

(This article is an information piece and not a formal legal opinion. HFG Attorneys accepts no liability for damages caused by errors and omissions)

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HFG Attorneys Inc. was established in March 2018 after opening the doors in the winelands valley of Paarl, Western Cape. The company’s head office is based in Paarl, but assists its clients anywhere in South Africa when needed.

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HF Gonzales Attorneys Inc. t/a HFG Attorneys (Registration number: 2018/540437/21)