It is time to reflect on judgments in Labour Courts 2015.  721 judgments were delivered by the Labour Appeal Court and the Labour Court.  This should help to explain why practitioners and academics are battling to keep up to date with recent developments.  The same analysis has been done for 2016 and earlier for 2014 and before that for 2013.

Introduction

Today in the electronic age judgments are made available almost immediately and they appear on different websites.  This statistical analysis is done using the judgments provided free of charge  by the Southern African Foundation for Legal Information (SAFLII) and for this we must be grateful.  Anyone can access the latest judgments free of any charge.

Only judgments that appear in the Butterworths Labour Law Reports (BLLR) or the Industrial Law Journal (ILJ) have been regarded as reported judgments for the purposes of this analysis.

All arbitral awards have been excluded because it is just not feasible to keep track of all of them. Whilst the awards are interesting, and show how the law is being applied in practice, they cannot serve as precedents.  For that reason alone it was decided to exclude them from this analysis.

Overview of 2015

Total number of judgments

721 judgments were delivered in 2015 by the Labour Courts:

  • 60 (8%) in the Labour Appeal Court (LAC); and
  • 661 (91%) in the Labour Court (LC).

Labour Appeal Court

46 of the  judgments (77%) have been reported in the BLLR or the ILJ or both.  This is understandable given that the LAC is now the ‘supreme’ appeal court and intended to guide practitioners in interpreting and applying the law.   Employers were appellants in 39 (65%) of the appeals.

The 9 “permanent “ justices of appeal delivered 48 judgments (80%) between them, of which 39 (81%) have been reported.

Without in any way casting any aspersions and simply as a matter of interest the number of judgments delivered by the permanent justices of appeal are:

  • Coppin JA (5) – 5 reported
  • Davis JA (6) – 6 reported
  • Landman AJ (8) – 4 reported
  • Musi JA (7) – 6 reported
  • Ndlovu JA (4) – 3 reported – (deceased in 2017)
  • Savage JA (4) – 4 reported
  • Sutherland JA (8) – 6 reported
  • Tlaletsi DJP (4) – 3 reported
  • Waglay JP (2) –  2 reported

Acting LAC judges

There were 3 acting justices of appeal in 2015 and they delivered 12 judgments (20%) of which 8 (67%) have been reported.

The names of the 3 acting justices and the number of judgments delivered are:

  • Dlodlo AJA (5) – 2 reported
  • Kathree-Setiloane AJA (3) – 3 reported
  • Mngqibisa-Thusi AJA (4) – 3 reported

Labour Court

661 judgments were delivered in 2015 by the Labour Court throughout the country.

Reported judgments

Only 104 (16%) of the  judgments have been reported in either the BLLR or the ILJ.

Ten permanent LC judges

There were 10 permanent judges of the Labour Court in 2015 and they delivered  373 judgments (56%) between them of which 61 (16%) are reported.

Again without casting any aspersions, and bearing in mind that some judges may have been on leave for some of the time, here are the details of the judgments delivered by the  permanent justices of the Labour Court:

  • Basson J (10) – nil reported – (appointed to high court)
  • Cele J (17) – 4 reported
  • Gush J (11) – 1 reported
  • Lagrange J (59) – 9 reported
  • Lallie J (62) – 6 reported
  • Molahlehi J (38) – 8 reported – (appointed to high court)
  • Rabkin-Naicker J (57) – 11 reported
  • Steenkamp J (50) – 11 reported
  • Van Niekerk J (46) – 5 reported
  • Whitcher J (23) – 6 reported

67 acting judges in Labour Court in 2015

It is startling that 67 practitioners acted as judges in the Labour Court during 2015 and delivered  288 judgments (44%), of which 43 (15%) have been reported (only 20 of those in BLLR).

There is no point in listing all the persons who acted as judges during 2015 but the number of judgments of the 67 acting justices range from 1 to 68 with the most judgments being delivered by:

  • Bank AJ (5) – 2 reported
  • Brassey AJ (3) – 2 reported
  • Coetzee AJ (4) – 1 reported
  • Euijen AJ (9) – 1 reported
  • Hulley AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Leppan AJ (4) – nil reported
  • Malan AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Mooki AJ (5) – 2 reported
  • Mosime AJ (2) – 1 reported
  • Myburgh AJ (13) – 7 reported
  • Nkutha-Nkontwana AJ (12) – 2 reported
  • Prinsloo AJ (8) – 2 reported (later appointed to LC)
  • Snider AJ (8) – 1 reported
  • Snyman AJ (14) – 6 reported
  • Tlhotlhalemaje AJ (68) – 3 reported (later appointed to LC)
  • Van der Merwe AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Venter AJ (4) – 2 reported
  • Voyi AJ (12) – 4 reported
  • Watt-Pringle AJ (4) – nil reported

Workload of Labour Court 1997 – 2016

Listed here are the number of known judgments delivered by the Labour Court only since 1997:

  • 1997 = 118
  • 1998 = 249
  • 1999 = 313
  • 2000 = 243
  • 2001 = 232
  • 2002 = 188
  • 2003 = 114
  • 2004 = 125
  • 2005 = 121
  • 2006 = 115
  • 2007 = 155
  • 2008 = 210
  • 2009 = 204
  • 2010 = 251
  • 2011 = 426
  • 2012 = 297
  • 2013 = 484
  • 2014 = 685
  • 2015 = 661
  • 2016 = 640