|The Sol Plaatje Municipality (“the Applicant”) brought an application for leave to appeal against a judgment wherein the Court dismissed its review application. The Applicant brought said application on the grounds that it believed that the Court a quo (initially the Labour Court) erred in a number of instances, in its findings relating to inter alia employment law and the weight attributable to uncontested evidence in arbitration proceedings.
The facts insofar as they pertain to the review application are not the focal point of this CLE, however, the issues and determinations relating to granting an application for leave to appeal in respect of labour matters are at the core of this discussion. The court, in the present case, considered the traditional test in determining whether to grant the application for leave to appeal, which is to consider whether there is a reasonable prospect that another court may come to a different conclusion.
The process in the labour courts follow the main principle as highlighted above when considering applications for leave to appeal, however, section 166(1) of the Labour Relations Act (“the LRA”) makes mention of the fact that the party must apply to the Labour Court for leave to appeal to the Labour Appeal Court (“the LAC”) which is the designated court to deal with highly sensitve appeal matters in respect of final orders in the labour court.
Section 17 of the Superior Courts Act illustrates instances wherein the Labour Court would be regulated in relation to appeals, it mentions that leave to appeals may only be granted when a judge is of the opinion that there is a reasonable prospect of success, as aforestated, or there exists a compelling reason as to why the appeal should be heard.
|The Court referred to precedent in its analysis and held that the LAC must be extremely cautious in granting leave to appeal and as it is not there simply because an applicant requests it and that the court’s assessment of the requirement of prospects of success must be a stringent exercise. In as much as the LRA is structured to assist with an expeditious resolution to labour disputes, this requires that court a quos need to be cautious in granting leave to appeal.
The Court further held that in granting leave to appeal, there are two separate interests to consider. The first being the interests of the appellant or parties such as the appellant), who would be entitled to have their rights vindicated if there exists a reasonable prospect that another court might come to a different conclusion/judgment. Secondly, the rights of employees to have the matter dealt with expeditiously in order that they not end up in legal “no man’s-land”.
The Court in the present case thus held that the matter should not have been brought to the LAC and that it should have ended in the Labour Court.
The traditional test in determining whether to grant an application for leave to appeal is whether there is a reasonable prospect that another court may come to a different conclusion. Specific to labour related matters however, both the Applicant and Respondent’s interests need to be considered in the circumstances insofar as the object of time and the delay in proceedings can affect either party, bearing in mind one of the most important purposes of the LRA which is to expedite resolutions in disputes.
Written by Divina Naidoo and supervised by Jenna Bentel