Article 44/2022

Under what circumstances should contempt of court proceedings be utilised instead of having a writ issued?

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Section 163 of the LRA provides that judgments and orders of the labour court may be executed as if they were judgments or orders of the high court.  Before steps are taken by a judgment creditor to sue out a writ of execution in satisfaction of the judgment in his favour, it has to be ascertained whether the judgment was in a form allowing enforcement by means of a writ.  In the case of a judgment ad pecuniam solvendam (directing the judgment debtor to pay a sum of money), it is appropriate to seek its enforcement by means of a writ of execution.  On the other hand, in the case of a judgment ad factum praestandum, an order is enforceable by means of contempt proceedings (Hendor (CC) clearly established that an order of retrospective payment of remuneration is an order ad factum praestandum, enforceable by means of contempt of court proceedings).

Often employment contracts contain a clause to the effect that the agreement is the sole record of the terms existing between the parties and that any variation or amendment thereof will only be valid if reduced to writing and signed by both parties.

When appearing in the labour court in motion proceedings and there are material disputes of fact, should the matter be referred for oral evidence?

Motion proceedings (including applications in terms of rule 31 of the CCMA rules) are not designed to resolve disputes of fact, but indeed disputes of law.