Article 39/2021

Labour Edge

What determines the test to be used on review – correctness standard or reasonable decision-maker?


In Jonsson Uniform Solutions (Pty) Ltd v Brown and Others (DA10/2012) [2014] ZALCJHB 32 (13 February 2014) [2014] JOL 32513, at paragraphs 33–36, where the labour appeal court held as follows;

‘[33]   The generally accepted view is that we have a bifurcated review standard viz reasonableness and correctness. The test for the reasonableness of a decision was stated in Sidumo and Another v Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd and Others as follows: “Is the decision reached by the commissioner one that a reasonable decision-maker could not reach?”

[34]    In assessing whether the CCMA or the Bargaining Council had jurisdiction to adjudicate a dispute, the correctness test should be applied. The court of review will analyse the objective facts to determine whether the CCMA or Bargaining Council had the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. See SARPA v SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd and Others; SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd v SARPU.

[35]    The issues in dispute will determine whether the one or the other of the review tests is harnessed in order to resolve the dispute.  In matters where the factual finding of an arbitrator is challenged on review, the reasonable decision-maker standard should be applied. Where the legal or jurisdictional findings of the arbitrator are challenged the correctness standard should be applied. There will, however, be situations where the legal issues are inextricably linked to the facts so that the reasonable decision-maker standard could be applied.

[36]    It is therefore important to determine whether the dispute, between the parties, is a jurisdictional one or not. The dispute to be resolved determines the test to be applied. In this matter, the dispute between the parties was whether there was in fact a dismissal. If there was no dismissal the Bargaining Council would not have jurisdiction. If there was a dismissal the Bargaining Council would have jurisdiction. The existence or otherwise of a dismissal is therefore a jurisdictional issue. The correctness standard and not the reasonableness standard should therefore be applied. The court a quo, as both parties agreed, applied the wrong standard.’

In Minister of Police v M and Others (2016) 27 SALLR 53 (LC); (2017) 38 ILJ 402 (LC), the labour court identified the content of hearsay evidence of a special type affording greater weight than simple hearsay.  What is the approach adopted by the labour court in such case as to the transcript of an internal enquiry admitted as hearsay evidence in terms of s3(1)(c) of the Law of Evidence Amendment Act?  Subsequent to such judgment, the labour court, in Department of Home Affairs v General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council and Others (2019) 30 SALLR 172 (LC); (2019) 40 ILJ 2544 (LC), had the opportunity to apply the approach adopted in the aforesaid judgment to the specific facts of this matter.  In this subsequent judgment, how did the labour court identify such transcript of an internal enquiry as not constituting hearsay of a special type (as required in Minister of Police v M (supra))?

According to the constitutional court, when a referral is made to the CCMA or a bargaining council concerning a dismissal, is it a requirement that the reason for the dismissal (i.e. misconduct, incapacity poor work performance, etc) is also identified in order for such CCMA or bargaining council to require the requisite jurisdiction?

What are the principles governing hearsay evidence as contained in the Law of Evidence Amendment Act 45 of 1998 and applied by the labour court in, inter alia, Swiss South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Louw NO [2006] 4 BLLR 373 (LC) and NUMSA v SA Metal & Engineering Industries Bargaining Council and Others (2014) 25 SALLR 4 (LC)?