New Labour Court & Labour Appeal Court Rules



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The new Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court rules were published in the Government Gazette were published in the Government Gazette on Friday, 3 May, 2024.
South Africa Employment and HR
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The new Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court rules were published in the Government Gazette were published in the Government Gazette on Friday, 3 May, 2024. 

The minutes of the Rules Board resolve that the current rules of both Courts are repealed, and that the Rules: “…shall come into effect on the date as indicated in the Rules.” The Rules themselves state that the commencement: “will come into operation on a day announced in the Government Gazette.”

Since no date of commencement has been announced in the Government Gazette, it appears that the current Rules of the Courts will remain in effect until a date is announced to avoid the Labour Courts functioning without any Rules.

The new Labour Court Rules make sweeping changes to practice within the Labour Court and are as follows:

  • Time periods related to Statements of Claims are increased:
    • A notice of intention to defend can now be filed within 10 days after service of a statement of claim. This period is 20 days for the State.
    • A statement of response must be delivered within 15 days, from when the notice of intention to defend was delivered.
  • Dies Non is implemented (those days on which courts do not sit or carry on business):
    • Between 16 December and 15 January, when most of South Africa is on holiday, Labour Court time periods will not normally operate.
  • Exceptions and Strike Out applications are specifically dealt with, as are Replications and Pleas in Reconvention:
    • Previously, such matters were dealt with by a hybrid application of the Uniform Rules and the Labour Court Rules. The New Rules now specifically deal with such situations.
  • Parties can be placed under bar:
    • This means a party can be prevented from participating further in a case due to their failure to meet a specific deadline.
  • Motivation must be provided if parties foresee a trial running more than 3-days. A directive will be required from the Judge President if the trial is expected to exceed 5-days:
    • This is a clear effort to minimise the length of trials to less than 3-days, and only in extraordinary circumstances have trials run longer than 5-days.
  • All defended actions will be case managed:
    • A judge will have to certify that a case is trial ready before it is set down.
  • Review applications will only require a “concise statement of grounds of review
    • While an affidavit will still be required to bring a review application, what is required to be stated in that affidavit has substantially changed. The Court wants the affidavits to be shorter, and only require the founding affidavits to state the following:
      • Whether a part or a whole of the award is being reviewed;
      • With reference to the award, what error and/or misdirection is alleged;
      • Stating concisely the errors and/or misdirections
    • Specific time periods are provided for restraint of trade applications:
      • Applications for restraint of trade will not be dealt with urgently unless the circumstances warrant it.
      • The Rules cater for 4-sets of pleadings.
      • The time periods relevant to restraint of trades are:
        • Once the application is filed, the respondent has 7 days to file an answering affidavit;
        • Then the Applicant has 5 days to reply; and
        • The Respondent has days to file a fourth affidavit.
        • Heads of argument must then be filed within 5 days index of the application;
        • The application will then be heard the week following the week in which heads of argument have been exchanged.

The Rules bring about many more changes, but it is clear that they seek to better manage actions, and speed up review applications, which will hopefully assist not just the Court, but the administration of justice for litigants. The Rules are increasingly starting to mimic the Uniform Rules, with subtle nuances.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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