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Preparing for arbitration? Do this one thing to ensure it's fair

by , 27 October 2014
Arbitration doesn't happen automatically.

It only takes place when you fail to resolve a dispute in conciliation with your employee. In almost all cases other than con-arb, your employee must ask the CCMA to arbitrate the dispute.

When he's done this, the hard work begins for you as you must prepare. And as you know, when it comes to labour matters, 'fairness' is key.

To ensure arbitration is fair, there's one thing you must do during your preparation. Read on to find out what it is so you can comply with labour law.

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What you must do during your preparation to ensure arbitration is fair

The one thing you must do during your preparation to ensure arbitration is fair is to disclose all relevant documents – reveal, don't conceal.
The legal term for disclosing documents relevant to the dispute to the other party is 'discovery'.
According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, the CCMA doesn't set out any specific rules to regulate how discovery must take place. You and your employee can agree about producing documents relevant to the dispute, or you can approach the Commissioner hearing the matter to make an appropriate order in this regard.
In most cases, you'll have access to relevant documents, some of which your employee or the trade union may not know about. So, even if it may be harmful to your case to disclose these documents, you must make them available. This will ensure the arbitration is fair.
The important point here is: When it comes to arbitration, you can't suppress or conceal information.

So when is the best time to exchange documents to ensure arbitration is fair?

Exchange documents before the arbitration. You can deal with this issue at a pre-arbitration conference.
If you exchange documents before the time, not only will you ensure arbitration is fair, but there's less chance the Arbitrator will delay the arbitration on the day to allow for the other party to consider documents they've just become aware of.
PS: For more information on all things related to the CCMA, check out CCMA for Managers.

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