Article 71/2021

Labour Edge

What are the requirements for the defence of duress?


  1. The requirements for duress are that the person alleging duress had been subjected to a threat of physical force or imminent harm, impelling him to be reasonably afraid and which induced him to enter into the contract.
  2. The supreme court of appeal, in Medscheme Holdings (Pty) Ltd and Another v Bhamjee 2005 (5) SA 339 (SCA), at paragraph [18], wrote:

‘In commercial bargaining the exercise of free will … is always fettered to some degree by the expectation of gain or the fear of loss … hard bargaining is not the equivalent of duress, and that is so even where the bargain is the product of an imbalance in bargaining power. Something more … would need to exist for economic bargaining to be illegitimate or unconscionable and thus to constitute duress.’

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)?