Applications to stay the enforcement of default arbitration awards
Applications to stay the enforcement of default arbitration awards are regularly referred to the urgent court in the Labour Court in terms of section 145(3) of the LRA. This section, which regulates review applications, provides that the "Labour Court may stay the enforcement of the award pending its decision". As a result, the Labour Court is overburdened, and by extension clogged, as a result of these innumerable applications.
In the recent decision of Denel Soc Ltd v NUMSA obo Petersen (J 518/22 Delivered 24 May 2022) Moshoana J, clearly frustrated by the challenges being faced by the Labour Court, lamented this situation. In his judgment he explores in detail some alternate interpretations of the LRA, CCMA Practice Notes and CCMA and Labour Court Rules, to assess whether the unreasonable load that has been placed on the Labour Court by these applications can be lessened.
Quote of the week from the above-mentioned case
"This Court takes a view that the mandate of the Labour Court is limited to decisions pending before it and not of other dispute resolution bodies. A view is also taken that default arbitration awards do not deserve to be certified because they are not final in nature. Lastly, a view is taken that the CCMA and the bargaining council are mandated to hear and determine applications seeking to stay enforcement of a default award pending its decision on it. I may point out that should the CCMA or the bargaining council refuse a rescission application, this Court can be approached to exercise its review powers over the default award as well as the ruling refusing to rescind. All of the above views resonates with the provisions of section 1 of the LRA."