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South African law reflects this history of successive colonial governance.
The 'common law' of the country (in this context, 'common law' implies law of non-statutory origin) is based on the 'Roman-Dutch' law of the original Dutch settlers.
The provinces have a role in drafting national legislation through their participation in the National Council of Provinces, the second house of Parliament.
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.
This is civilian law - Roman law as interpreted by the Dutch writers of the 17 centuries.
Thus originally, important primary sources of South African law were the treatises of authors such as Grotius, Johannes Voet, Simon Groenewegen and Johannes van der Linden. When the British took possession of the Cape in 1806 they did not impose their substantive legal system in a formal way.
Instead, it was decided that the local Roman-Dutch law would remain in force.
However, English procedural law was adopted and this had a tendency to influence substantive provisions.
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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.