Professor PA (Pieter) Carstens

Position, academic & professional qualifications

Pieter Carstens is a professor of criminal and medical law. He served as Head of the Department of Public Law for a number of years. He holds the degrees BLC LLB LLD (doctorate in medical malpractice law) from the University of Pretoria. The title of his LLD thesis was “Die strafregtelike en deliktuele aanspreeklikheid van die geneesheer as gevolg van nalatigheid” (The criminal and delictual liability of the medical doctor on the grounds of negligence). He is an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, and also an extraordinary professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine at UP.

Academic & professional experience

He was admitted as an advocate of the High Court of South Africa in 1983, was called to the Pretoria Bar in 1989 (where he also served as secretary of the pupil training committee of the Pretoria Bar from 1998 to 1999) and is still an associate member of the Pretoria Bar. He is the chairperson of the Unit for Medicine and Law, a joint venture between UP and UNISA.

Teaching activities

He teaches Criminal Law (STR 410 and 420) and Medical Law (GRG 410) for the LLB, as well as Capita Selecta in Criminal Law (STR 881), Capita Selecta from Specific Crimes (STR 882) and Capita Selecta from Medical Law (STR 884) for the coursework LLM in Criminal Law.

Postgraduate supervision:

  • 5 LLD  (on Medical Law)(completed);   16  LLM by research (Medical Law)(completed); 11 LLM by course work)(Criminal Law)(completed).
  • Currently supervising  6 LLD (Medical Law);  6 LLM by research (Medical Law);  24 MPhil by course work (Medical Law & Ethics).

Representative publications

  • Chapters: (“The Judicial Inquest and the Appointment of Curators” & “Specific Offences with Medico-Legal Implications”) in Carstens, Coetzer, Fosseus & Blok (eds) (2001) Clinical Forensic Medicine and Medical Jurisprudence Megkon.
  • Co-author of Carstens & Pearmain (2007) Foundational Principles of South African Medical Law Lexis-Nexis Butterworths.
  • “Paraphilia in South African Criminal Case Law” (2002) South African Law Journal 603.
  • “An assessment of the issue of disclaimers by South African hospitals in view of constitutional demands, foreign law and medico-legal considerations” (2003) SA Publiekreg / Public Law 430 (co-authored with A Kok).
  • “Rights of Patients - Comparative Perspectives from Five Countries” (2003) Medicine and Law 451.
  • “Regshistoriese perspektiewe oor die oorsprong en ontwikkeling van mediese nalatigheid” (2004) Fundamina 1.
  • Chapter: “The Cultural Defence in Criminal Law: South African Perspectives” in Foublets & Renteln (eds) (2006/2007) Multicultural Jurisprudence: Comparative Perspectives in the Cultural Defence.
  • “The impact of immigration on health law systems – a legal analysis from a three-country perspective” (2005) Medicine and Law 323 (co-authored with J Blum & N Talib).
  • “Physician/Hospital Liability for the Negligent Reporting of Child Abuse” (2005) Obiter 763.
  • “A Critical evaluation of the committee of preliminary inquiry of the Health Professions Council of South Africa with specific reference to Maxillo-facial and and oral surgery” (2006) South African Dental Journal 148 (co-authored with IF Redelinghuys & K-W Butow).

Areas of specialisation

His main areas of interest are criminal law, media law, forensic medicine and medical law.

Academic & professional memberships

He is a member of the Hospital Board of Weskoppies Hospital. Pieter Carstens is also a member of executive committee of the South African Medico-Legal Society, member of the World Association for Medical Law, and member of the Society of Advocates of South Africa.


During 2000 he was a visiting professor at the Institute for Health Law at the Loyola University of Chicago, USA and during 2002 a visiting professor at the Free University, Amsterdam and the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  As from the beginning of 2013 to 2017, Prof Carstens held the position of Head of the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

Contact details

- Author Department of Public Law

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