NO! TO NO-HOPE CASES: Labour Court on a mission to stop hopeless cases from clogging up the system.
The CCMA is swamped with an ever increasing case load. A staggering 188 500 new cases were referred to the CCMA for the year to April 2017. The numbers mean the CCMA has to organise, schedule and conduct more than 250 con-arbs and 180 arbitrations per day. The caseload has risen by nearly 200% since the CCMA’s first year of operations in 1996 when it had 64 000 cases. The grand total since inception is 2.8 million cases!
Many of these cases find their way into the Labour Court as reviews, trials and a variety of applications. For example, in 2016, the Labour Court had a total of 10 354 new cases referred to it.
Of these –
- 41% – (4245) of cases were reviews
- 15% – (1553) of cases were other disputes
- 66% – (6833) of cases were in Johannesburg
The Johannesburg Labour Court has only 11 full time Judges. Using a simple average, the numbers mean they would each have to deal with over 600 cases per year or over 50 cases per month. The actual number of cases which proceed in part or go the full distance is a lot lower for a variety of reasons – settlements, withdrawals, dormancy, use of acting judges etc. Even so, if Judges have to deal with only 50% of cases, it’s still an impossibly unrealistic workload to expect them to bear. And it explains why it takes so long to complete a case in the Labour court – on average 18 to 24 months.
A major contributor to the case load overload is the high number of “hopeless” cases that are referred to the court. Examples include delaying tactics, squeezing opponents out financially, misrepresentation of facts, excessive legal fee making, unnecessary information overload, technical point- taking and, often – plain incompetence by parties or their legal representatives.
The Judges have expressed their displeasure about this state of affairs. They have alerted parties and legal representatives that they will face the wrath of the court if they persist in bringing hopeless cases to the court. They can expect heavy criticism and punitive costs orders as punishment for malicious litigation and unprofessional conduct.
TIP: The first step to avoid getting on the wrong side of the court would be to consult an experienced labour lawyer to assess your case and to give you an honest no-nonsense opinion on your prospects of success.
[Source: Presentations at Saslaw Annual Conference 2017]
FREE LABOUR CASE ASSESSMENT: We offer to assess and give you a free no-nonsense opinion on your prospects of success in any labour case in the CCMA or Labour Court.