Reasons why jurisdiction is important when it comes to labour disputes at the CCMA
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says although the CCMA may assign a commissioner to conciliate a particular dispute, he may only do so if he has the jurisdiction. (Jurisdiction refers to the authority that a court or other body - such as the CCMA or an arbitrator - has to decide a dispute.)
This means the CCMA must first have the jurisdiction to conciliate before it can proceed.
This is important because if a forum like the CCMA doesn't have the authority in law to hear a particular dispute, it doesn't have the authority to make a valid and binding order.
But who has a duty to prove that the CCMA has jurisdiction?
Official notice: You have to appear at the CCMA within 30 days
This notice to attend the CCMA lands on your desk... Your palms start sweating… Your knees shake… And your heart's beating so fast it feels like it's about to launch itself across your desk.
Where do you start? What do you do? How do you prepare?
Don't feel this way ever again!
The referring party must prove the CCMA has the necessary jurisdiction to conciliate the dispute.
If, for example, your employee refers a dispute against you and you believe the CCMA doesn't have the jurisdiction to hear the dispute, you can and must raise the point. Your employee then has to prove that the CCMA does have the necessary jurisdiction.
The bottom line: Always raise the point of jurisdiction, even when the Commissioner himself doesn't realise it's an issue at the beginning of the proceedings. You need to be sure the CCMA has authority to hear the referred dispute so that at the end of the proceedings, the order it makes is valid and binding. Don't remain silent! If you don't, there's a very real possibility the entire proceedings will be set aside at a later stage.