94 S. African L.J. 483 (1977)
Retirement of Mr. Justice G. N. Holmes

handle is hein.journals/soaf94 and id is 493 raw text is: NOTES AND COMMENTS

RETIREMENT OF MR JUSTICE G N HoLMEs
On 10 July Mr Justice Neville Holmes reached the statutory retire-
ment age of 70 and the Appellate Division lost an outstanding jurist.
In 1975 he completed twenty-five years service on the Bench and
intended retiring (see the tribute in (1975) 92 SALJ 219). The tragic
death of Mr Justice Botha on 28 December that year led to his selflessly
agreeing to continue in judicial office (see (1976) 93 SALJ 206).
Born in Howick, Natal, Neville Holmes was educated at the famous
Durban High School, from which so many men of eminence have
emerged. He proceeded to Natal University College, Durban, where
he read for the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, in which he distinguished
himself in Latin and Roman Law, and Bachelor of Laws. He had a
notable sporting record, too, excelling at athletics and rugby. In 1931
he was admitted to the Natal Bar, then led by the great Graham
Mackeurtan KC, for whom the young Holmes devilled. During the
war he served in the Royal Durban Light Infantry. Thereafter he
resumed practice, taking silk in 1947. In 1949 the third edition of
Mackeurtan's Sale of Goods in South Africa was published under his
editorship. In 1950 and 1951 he was an acting judge in the Natal
Provincial Division, and on 2 April 1952 he received a permanent
appointment. For spells in 1959 and 1960 Mr Justice Holmes was an
acting judge of appeal, and in early 1960 he held the position of acting
Judge President of the Natal Provincial Division. His judicial career
reached its culmination on 1 January 1961, when he was appointed to
the Appellate Division, the first former member of the Natal Bar to
receive that honour.
There is an excellent photograph in colour of Mr Justice Holmes in
the frontispiece of the April 1976 issue of De Jure, the journal of the
Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria, accompanied by a
curriculum vitae in his own words sent at the request of the editorial
board. The short autobiographical sketch is couched in typically droll
vein.
A full appraisal of the contribution of Mr Justice Holmes to the
exposition and development of our law must await another occasion
and a more skilled hand than mine. What an extensive area of law and
length of time it will have to cover! What a host of leading judgments
stands to his name! One thinks of his recent decision in Standard Bank
of SA Ltd v Sham Magazine Centre 1977 (1) SA 484 (AD), on crossings
483

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