CCMA Commissioners may lose discretion to allow legal representation in unfair dismissal disputes arising from misconduct

It is a well known rule in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (“CCMA”) that legal representation in unfair dismissal disputes arising from misconduct are only allowed at the Commissioners discretion.

Commissioners were empowered to exercise this discretion under Rule 25 of the CCMA Rules (“The Rules”).

CCMA commissioner -legal representatives

However, the recent case of Coetzee v Autohaus Centurion (The “Coetzee case”) held that a commissioners discretion regarding legal representation conflicted with the Legal Practice Act, of 2014 (The “LPA”). This is because the LPA in section 25 confers on practitioners, the right to appear in any court or tribunal. The Coeztee case therefore held that as the CCMA rules are insubordinate to the LPA, which is National legislation, the discretion of commissioners should no longer apply, and the rules should be amended accordingly. The Coetzee case further indicated that the Labour Relations Act of 1995 should also be amended to be brought in line with the LPA.

The implications of this decision means that the CCMA rules may be amended to allow practitioners to appear and make representations in these types of hearings at the CCMA in future.

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