Article 86/2021

Labour Edge

To what extent is the practice manual of the labour court binding on all parties and the labour court?


  1. In Macsteel Trading Wadeville v Van der Merwe NO and Others [2019] 40 ILJ 798 (LAC), at paragraph [22], the labour appeal court held that:

‘The underlying objective of the Practice Manual is the promotion of the statutory imperative of expeditious dispute resolution. It enforces and gives effect to the Rules of the Labour Court and the provisions of the LRA. It is binding on the parties and the Labour Court. The Labour Court does, however, have a residual discretion to apply and interpret the provisions of the Practice Manual, depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case before the court’.

  1. In Samuels v Old Mutual Bank [2017] 7 BLLR 681 (LAC), the labour appeal court held that:

‘[14]   The consolidated practice manual which came into operation on 2 April 2013 constitutes a series of directives issued by the Judge President over a period of time. Its purpose is, inter alia, to provide access to justice by all those whom the Labour Court serves; promote uniformity and/or consistency in practice and procedure and set guidelines on standards of conduct expected of those who practise and litigate in the Labour Court. Its objective is to improve the quality of the court’s service to the public, and promote the statutory imperative of expeditious dispute resolution.

[15]    The practice manual is not intended to change or amend the existing Rules of the Labour Court but to enforce and give effect to the Rules, the Labour Relations Act as well as various decisions of the courts on the matters addressed in the practice manual and the Rules. Its provisions therefore, are binding. The Labour Court’s discretion in interpreting and applying the provisions of the practice manual remains intact, depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular matter before the court.’

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)?