LAC Summary: Condonation was sought in the Labour Court for the late delivery of a response to a claim; the application was dismissed there, inter alia, for not dealing with the defence and prospects in the application for condonation; lack of detail in the explanation for the delay also criticised.  The response was delivered together with the application for condonation; although a copy of the response was not attached to the application, it was referred to in the supporting affidavit and incorporated into that affidavit by reference.  Explanation for the delay, although not punctilious, held on appeal to have been sufficient.

Nature’s Choice Products (Pty) Ltd v Food & Allied Workers Union and Others (JA12/12) [2014] ZALAC 12; [2014] 5 BLLR 434 (LAC); (2014) 35 ILJ 1512 (LAC) (5 February 2014)

Coram: Waglay JP, Coppin and Francis AJJA

Heard: 16 May 2013     Delivered:             05 February 2014

Appeal allowed and condonation ought to have been granted.

[1]          This is an appeal against the judgment and order of Basson J in the Labour Court, dismissing, with costs, the appellant’s application for condonation for the late filing of its statement of response to the respondents’ statement of claim.  Leave to appeal was granted to this Court on petition.

[2]          The second and further respondents are members of the first respondent.  They were employed by the appellant at its plant in Alrode, Alberton, until 31 January 2010 when the employment of each of them was terminated by the appellant, allegedly due to its operational requirements.  The respondents disputed the fairness of the dismissals and referred the matter for conciliation to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (“CCMA’’).

[3]          A notice of the referral to the CCMA was served on the appellant, but the appellant did not appear at the conciliation.  The CCMA accordingly issued a certificate of non-resolution of the dispute.  The respondents then instituted proceedings in the Labour Court.