Article 9/2022

In assessing damages for loss of earnings or support suffered by an ex-employee, with reference to a delictual as opposed to a labour law claim, it is usual for a deduction to be made for contingencies as well as general contingencies for which no explicit allowance has been made in the actuarial calculations.  What are contingencies and what is the approach to be adopted in respect of general contingencies?

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  • contingencies are ‘the art of foretelling the future’ – however, general rules have been established: the younger a claimant, the more time he or she has to fall prey to changes and uncertainties of life, such as a downturn in the economy, leading to a reduction in salary, retrenchment, unemployment, ill-health, death, etc; the longer the remaining working life, the more likely the possibility of an unforeseen event impacting on the assumed trajectory of the person’s remaining career – as a general principle, in a pre-morbid scenario, the younger the age of the claimant, the higher the contingency
  • In Road Accident Fund v Guedes 2006 (5) SA 583 (SCA), the court referred with approval to The Quantum Yearbook, by R Koch, under the heading ‘General contingencies’, where it states that when ‘…assessing damages for loss of earnings or support, it is usual for a deduction to be made for general contingencies for which no explicit allowance has been made in the actuarial calculation. The deduction is the prerogative of the court…’.

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  • contingencies are ‘the art of foretelling the future’ – however, general rules have been established: the younger a claimant, the more time he or she has to fall prey to changes and uncertainties of life, such as a downturn in the economy, leading to a reduction in salary, retrenchment, unemployment, ill-health, death, etc; the longer the remaining working life, the more likely the possibility of an unforeseen event impacting on the assumed trajectory of the person’s remaining career – as a general principle, in a pre-morbid scenario, the younger the age of the claimant, the higher the contingency
  • In Road Accident Fund v Guedes 2006 (5) SA 583 (SCA), the court referred with approval to The Quantum Yearbook, by R Koch, under the heading ‘General contingencies’, where it states that when ‘…assessing damages for loss of earnings or support, it is usual for a deduction to be made for general contingencies for which no explicit allowance has been made in the actuarial calculation. The deduction is the prerogative of the court…’.

With reference to Potgieter v Samancor Chrome Ltd t/a Tubatse Ferrochrome (2022) 33 SALLR 190 (LC) and Van Rensburg and Others v Department of Justice and Correctional Services and Others (2022) 33 SALLR 280 (LC); (2022) 43 ILJ 2110 (LC).

In what instances does the jurisdiction of the supreme court of appeal trump the jurisdiction of the labour appeal court?

Where an employer prematurely terminates a fixed-term contract and the employee challenges such termination as being unlawful and claims damages and not specific performance, the labour court has up to now ordered damages even though same is an unliquidated claim for damages.