The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
The appellants had been dismissed from their employment by the respondent, the Institute of Social Work, following their alleged participation in an unprotected strike. The matter was heard by the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA), and then the High Court, to outcomes with which both parties were aggrieved. On appeal, the litigants lodged multiple grounds for consideration (the respondent cross-appealing), which the appellate court condensed into three main issues.
First, the respondents argued that the appeal by the second to twenty-first appellants was incompetent because they did not file a case before the CMA. The respondents argued that the appellants ought to have filed an application for a representative suit under order VIII rule 7 of the Civil Procedure Code. However, the court found that there are specific provisions under the labour laws which are instructive regarding labour disputes involving several employees. The court highlighted section 86(1) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act (ELR), as well as rules 5(2), 5(3) and 12(1) of the Mediation Rules and found that the appellants had acted in accordance therewith.
Secondly, that the appellants were not given clear charges for their misconduct and were denied an opportunity to be heard during the disciplinary proceedings was a clear violation of the constitutional principle of natural justice. The termination was therefore void and of no legal effect.
Lastly, because no fair or valid reason in terms of the labour law had been clearly stated to the employees for their termination, this meant that it was unfair under section 37(2) of the ELR, as well as contrary to rule 8(1)(c) and (d) of the ELR Code of Good Practice Rules.
The appeal was upheld with the court setting aside the decisions of the CMA and the High Court. The appellants were granted leave to institute proceedings against the respondent before the CMA de novo (afresh) so as to determine their rights. Each party was ordered to bear their own costs.