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.’

The institution of review proceedings does not suspend the operation of an arbitration award unless security is furnished to the satisfaction of the court in terms of s145(8) of the LRA.  On what basis did the labour appeal court recently resolve the conflict between various labour court judgments interpreting the stay of enforcement of arbitration awards pending review proceedings?

What are the requirements to be met for s158(1)(c) of the LRA to be applicable (dealing with the jurisdiction of the labour court) to make an arbitration award or settlement agreement an order of court?

In terms of s142A(2) of the LRA, the CCMA has the power to make a settlement agreement an arbitration award for the purpose of enforcement thereof, in terms of s143(1) of the LRA.  On the other hand, in terms of s158(1)(c) of the LRA, the labour court may make an arbitration award or any settlement agreement an order of court.  What are some of the differences between the approaches adopted in the aforesaid statutory provisions, recently identified by the labour court in National Union of Metalworkers of SA obo Kubane and Others v Kewberg Cables and Braids (Pty) Ltd (2019) 30 SALLR 218 (LC)?