Labour Court

A brief description of the operation of the Labour Court

Labour Court

Source: Reader’s Digest’s You and Your Rights

The Labour Court is a superior court on a par with a provincial division of the Supreme Court established by the Labour Relations Act (lra), 1995. It replaces the Industrial Court. The court is headed by a Judge President who also presides over the Labour Appeal Court. The court has jurisdiction over labour matters in all the provinces and it has jurisdiction when arbitration in an industrial dispute takes place in terms of the Arbitration Act, 1965. It has concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court with regard to:

  • Violations or threatened violations of the state as an employer;
  • Disputes over the constitutionality of any executive act or of any administrative act or conduct. The court may make any appropriate order including:
  • Granting interim relief and interdicts;
  • Ordering something to be done to remedy a wrong (see order of the court);
  • Making a declaratory order;
  • Awarding compensation, damages or orders for costs;
  • Ordering compliance with provisions of the lra;
  • Making any arbitration award or settlement agreement other than a collective agreement an order of the court;
  • Determining disputes about incidents of non-compliance with the constitutions of registered trade unions and employers’ organisations;
  • Reviewing any decision or act made by the state in its capacity as an employer on permissible legal grounds;
  • Hearing and determining appeals in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993. (See health and safety at work.)

If, during a hearing, the court decides that a matter should have been referred to arbitration, it may stop the proceedings and refer the dispute to arbitration. If the parties agree, the court may act as an arbitrator itself, in which case it may only make an order that an arbitrator or commissioner of the commission for conciliation, mediation and arbitration (CCMA) would have been able to make. In awarding costs, the court must take into account what the costs would have been if the matter had been referred to arbitration in the first place.

Labour Appeal Court
The Labour Appeal Court was established in terms of the lra as the final court of appeal in respect of all judgments and orders made by the Labour Court. It is on a par with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and decides on any question of law on which the Labour Court has reserved judgment.

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