It is time to reflect on judgments in Labour Courts 2016.  701 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 2015 after last being done 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 2016

Total number of judgments

The Labour Courts delivered 701 judgments in 2016:

  • 61 (9%) in the Labour Appeal Court (LAC); and
  • 640 (91%) in the Labour Court (LC).

Labour Appeal Court

46 of the 61 judgments (75%) 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 37 (61%) of the appeals.

The nine “permanent “ justices of appeal delivered 43 judgments (70%) between them, of which 33 (77%) 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) – 4 reported
  • Davis JA (3) –  3 reported
  • Landman JA  (5) – 4 reported
  • Musi JA (12) – 8 reported
  • Ndlovu JA (2) –  2 reported – (deceased n 2017)
  • Savage JA (6) – 2 reported
  • Sutherland JA (5) – 5 reported
  • Tlaletsi DJP (7) –  6 reported
  • Waglay JP (3) –  3 reported

Acting LAC judges

There were 4 acting justices of appeal in 2016 and they delivered 12 judgments (20%) of which 8 (67%) have been reported.

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

  • Makgoka AJA (3) – 1 reported
  • Mngqibisa-Thusi AJA (1) – unreported
  • Murphy AJA (7) – all reported
  • Phatshoane AJA (1) – unreported

Labour Court

640 judgment were delivered in 2016 by the Labour Court throughout the country.

Reported judgments

Only 102 (16%) of the 640 judgments have been reported in either the BLLR or the ILJ.

Twelve permanent LC judges

There were 12 permanent judges of the Labour Court in 2016 and they delivered 433 judgments (68%) between them of which 65 (15%) 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 12 permanent justices of the Labour Court:

  • Basson J (5) – nil reported – (appointed to high court)
  • Cele J (14) – 1 reported
  • Gush J (12) – 1 reported
  • Lagrange J (76) – 12 reported
  • Lallie J (14) – 3 reported
  • Molahlehi J (35) – 2 reported – (appointed to high court)
  • Prinsloo J (23) – 6 reported
  • Rabkin-Naicker J (39) – 5 reported
  • Steenkamp J (51) – 15 reported
  • Tlhotlhalemaje J (51) – 2 reported
  • Van Niekerk J (97) – 12 reported
  • Whitcher J (23) – 6 reported

60 acting judges in Labour Court in 2016

It is startling that 60 practitioners acted as judges in the Labour Court during 2016 and delivered 208 judgments (32%), of which 37 (18%) have been reported (only 6 of those in BLLR).

There is no point in listing all the persons who acted as judges during 2016 but the number of judgments of the  acting justices range from 1 to 18 with the most judgments being delivered by:

  • Bakker AJ (5) – 1 reported
  • Baloyi AJ (10) – nil reported
  • Benjami AJ (3) – 3 reported
  • Bekker AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Coetzee AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Everett AJ (5) – 1 reported
  • Hardie AJ (5) – 3 reported
  • Mahosi AJ (5) – nil reported
  • Moshoana AJ (14) – 1 reported
  • Mosime AJ (5) – 2 reported
  • Nkutha-Nkontwana AJ (6) – 1 reported
  • Pienaar AJ (7) – nil reported
  • Snyman AJ (18) – 9 reported
  • Venter AJ (3) – 2 reported
  • Voyi AJ (7) – 1 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 = 671
  • 2016 = 640