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Revealed: The four crucial steps of an arbitration hearing

by , 11 November 2013
There are four critical steps in an arbitration hearing. Read on to find out what they are so you'll understand how the process works, what to expect when and, most importantly, how to present your case.

According to CCMA.org, when conciliation fails, a party may request the CCMA to resolve the dispute by arbitration.

At an arbitration hearing, a commissioner gives both parties (you and your employee) an opportunity to fully state your cases.

There are the four stages to an arbitration hearing

Step #1: Each party makes an opening statement

The Commissioner will usually allow both you and your employee to make an opening statement.

Step #2: You present your case

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says you'll then present your case in four stages:

  1. You'll present your case by getting all your witnesses to give evidence, one by one. This is called evidence-in-chief.
  2. Your employee, or his representative, will be allowed to question each of your witnesses after they've given evidence-in-chief. This is called cross-examination.
  3. After your witness has been cross-examined, you'll be given a chance to ask your witness questions again to respond to or clarify what he said under cross examination. This is called re-examination.
  4. You'll repeat steps number 1, 2 and 3 for each of your witnesses until you've called all your witnesses. Once you've called all your witnesses, you'll close your case. You'll do this by saying something like: 'That, Mr Commissioner, is the case for the respondent'.

Make sure you've led all the evidence you need before you close your case. The Commissioner won't usually allow you to call any more witnesses after closing your case.

Step #3: Your employee presents his case

Your employee will now get a chance to present his case. He can do this by giving evidence himself, and he can also call witnesses to support his case. He'll give evidence-in-chief and you'll have a chance to cross examine him.

After that he can respond, or his representative can re-examine him. He'll repeat this process for each witness he calls. When your employee has called all his witnesses, he'll close his case.

Step #4: Each party argues its case

Once you and your employee have closed your cases, the Commissioner will give you each a turn to make a closing statement. This is referred to as argument.

The Loose Leaf Service explains: Sometimes if time has run out, or if parties need time to prepare their argument, the Commissioner will adjourn the proceedings before argument.

In that case, he'll either ask you to come back on another day to present argument, or allow you to hand in a written argument by a specified date. Written argument about a case is also referred to as heads of argument.

After this step you'll have to wait for the outcome of the hearing.

Knowing the four main steps of an arbitration hearing will help ensure you know what to expect at the CCMA and, in turn, increases your chances of winning your case.

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