Ms Rani Pillay

Position, academic & professional qualifications

Rani Pillay is employed as a lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria as of 1 October 2019.

Ms Pillay holds a BProc degree from the erstwhile University of Natal, an Interdisciplinary Masters degree in Child Care and Protection (Magna Cum Laude) from the erstwhile University of Durban-Westville and an LLM degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently reading for her LLD at the University of Pretoria. The title of her doctoral thesis is ‘The Right of Donor-Conceived Children to Know their Biogenetic Origins’.

Further to the above degrees, Ms Pillay has completed postgraduate modules and certificate courses in several fields, including Higher Education Practice (a module in the Masters in Higher Education degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal), for which she achieved a Certificate of Merit. She also obtained distinction passes for the following four postgraduate short courses from the University of the Witwatersrand: Foundations of Bioethics, Foundations of Health Law, Research Ethics and Advanced Health Ethics. In addition, Ms Pillay attained a certificate in Introduction to Medical Law offered by the Law Society of South Africa as well as a certificate in Open Networked Learning (ONL171) - an online collaborative learning course offered jointly by Karolinska Institutet, Lunds Universitet and Linnaeus University in Sweden. The course involved problem-based learning among higher education institutional practitioner-participants and dealt specifically with the use of digital tools for teaching and learning. Ms Pillay has also completed a Management Development course offered by AdvTech and a certificate course in Finance for Non-Financial Managers at the Henley Business School. She is certified as an Education, Training and Development Practitioner with the Law Society of South Africa (Legal Education and Development).

Academic & professional experience

Ms Pillay has enjoyed a career spanning 20 years in the legal education environment. Much of this time was spent performing senior academic and administrative functions. She held the roles of Local Director of the Part-Time Practical Legal Training School in Durban under the auspices of the Law Society of South Africa and Postgraduate Academic Programme Co-ordinator of the Masters Programme in Child Care and Protection at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  She also served in an academic leadership role as the Gauteng Regional Programme Manager (Law) for the Independent Institute of Education’s Varsity College.

Ms Pillay has taught several undergraduate and postgraduate modules across various programmes and disciplines, including the Higher Certificate in Legal Studies, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Commercial Law programmes as well as the Interdisciplinary Masters’ Degree (Law and Social Work) in Child Care and Protection and the LLM with specialization in Child Care and Protection.

In addition to publishing in leading South African law journals, Ms Pillay has served as a referee for the International Social Work Journal, South African Law Journal, Stellenbosch Law Review and Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal.

Teaching activities

Ms Pillay co-teaches Public Law 310 (Administrative Law) at the undergraduate level and Socio-Economic Rights in the LLM programme.


  • R Pillay and FN Zaal 'Surrogate Motherhood Confirmation Hearings: The Advent of a Fundamentally Flawed Process’ (2013) 130(3) South African Law Journal 476-485.
  • R Pillay and FN Zaal ‘Misattributed Paternity:  Should There Be a Right to Reimbursement of Maintenance Erroneously Paid?’ (2012) 23(3) Stellenbosch Law Review 583-597.
  • R Pillay and FN Zaal ‘Protecting Parties from Ambush: Some Recommendations on Discovery in Children's Court Litigation’ (2011) 128(4) South African Law Journal 632- 642.
  • R Pillay ‘The Beginning of Human Personhood: Is South African Law Outdated?’ (2010) 21(2) Stellenbosch Law Review 230-238.
  • R Pillay and CR Matthias ‘A Problem of Disparity? An Analysis of Child Custody Criteria Applied by Family Counsellors in Divorce Cases’ (2007) 19(1) Social Work Practitioner Researcher 26-39.
  • R Pillay and FN Zaal ‘Child-Interactive Video Recordings:  A Proposal for Hearing the Voices of Children in Divorce Matters’ (2005) 122 (3) South African Law Journal 684-695.
  • FN Zaal and R Pillay ‘No Special Access Rights for Grandparents?  An Evaluation of our Law after Townsend-Turner v Morrow’ (2005) 122 (2) South African Law Journal 300-308.

Areas of specialisation

Ms Pillay’s general areas of specialization are Child Law, Human Rights Law, Medical Law and Bioethics.  She has published on issues such as redefining human personhood, misattributed paternity, custody (care) decision-making and surrogacy. She has also been interviewed on radio, television and newspapers for her legal opinion on the rights of donor-conceived children to know their biogenetic origins.

Research interests

International and domestic law on the participation rights of children; the impact of advances in reproductive technology on the identity rights of children; parental responsibilities and rights under SA law

Awards & bursaries (Selected)

  • Butterworths’ Scholarship for Best Second Year Law Student (1996)
  • Mellon Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship (1999; 2000)
  • University of Natal Graduate Scholarship (1999)
  • University of Natal Undergraduate Merit Scholarship (1997)
  • National Research Fund grant-holder linked doctoral scholarship: SARChl Chair in International Constitutional Law (July 2018 – September 2019)

Representative participation at conferences and seminars (selected)

  • R Pillay ‘“Who in the World are my Parents?” A Comparative Legal Perspective on the Informational Rights of Donor-Conceived Children’. Paper Presented at the Congress of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa (2015), Varsity College, Durban-North, 06-09 July 2015.
  • R Pillay ‘The Right of Donor-Conceived Children to be Informed of the Nature of their Conception’. Paper Presented at the Congress of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa (2014), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 13-15 January 2014. 
  • R Pillay ‘Facilitating Learning to Address the Divergence between Higher Education Expectations and Secondary Education Instruction: The Experience of a South African Law Faculty’.  Paper Presented at the Commonwealth Legal Education Association Conference (2011), National Law School of India, Bangalore, India, 29-30 January 2011.
  • R Pillay ‘The Beginning of Human Personhood: Is There a Need to Amend our Law?’ Paper Presented at the Congress of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa (2009), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 13-16 July 2009. 
  • R Pillay ‘The Custody Decision-Making Process at the Durban Office of the Family Advocate:  A Thematic Analysis of Assessment Reports Drafted by Family Counsellors’. Paper Presented at the Congress of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa (2002), Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 21-24 January 2002.
  • South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) Writing School (2019), University of Pretoria, 6 June 2019. 

Contact details

Email:  [email protected]

Tel:  +27 (0)12 420 2774

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