As all the members of SASLAW that practice in the Labour Court know, there exists a significant difficulty at the Court where it comes to the allocation of set down dates for motion matters. This results in material delays in just getting dates for a case to be heard.
At the moment, files that may be ready for the allocation of dates are simply stacked in ever growing piles in order to be assessed by a Judge to determine whether the file is ready for a set down date to be allocated. The Labour Court however simply does not have sufficient Judges and resources available for this task, resulting in the ever increasing backlog.
The Labour Court has proposed an initiative to attempt to clear the backlog and to expedite the process of determining if files are ready for set down dates to be allocated. This entails that files be allocated to practitioners who volunteer to spend a day at the Labour Court to assess files. The practitioner will be allocated a set of files, will then go through each file to determine if the file is ripe for hearing, using a check list that has been prepared by Prinsloo J, the Practice Manual, and with guidance to be provided by the Registrar’s office.
The practitioner will then record in a memorandum to be placed on the file whether a date can be allocated or if not, what is outstanding on the file. This memorandum will the form the basis for the directives to be issued by the Judges to whom the files are then next taken. That will mean that Judges will not have to go through each file in detail, thereby considerably expediting the process.
The board room on the 2nd floor at the KZN Labour Court will be provided to the practitioners to use, and the initiative will operate every weekday. Initially, the Court has indicated that it would currently like two practitioners per day, and later that may increase to four.
What is proposed is that similar to the pro bono roster, practitioners enter their names on a duty roster and serve one day per week in this project. Practitioners will be kindly asked to indicate their availability on request from SASLAW, just like staffing the pro bono offices, with the first allocation starting Monday 10 July 2023. SASLAW shall informed the acting ADJP, who is driving the project, accordingly.
Once again, SASLAW is entirely dependent on its members to make this work. It is a project that is in the interest of all SASLAW members, as we are sure that most members would have experienced difficulties in waiting for hearing dates. Hopefully, this initiate will go a long way to solving the problem, so SASLAW will appreciate as much volunteers as possible.