A Certificate of Outcome is a document completed by a Conciliating Commissioner that allows an Applicant to proceed to Arbitration or the Labour Court; without this document an Applicant has no jurisdiction to litigate the purported dispute.
Previously, an Applicant was bound by the Commissioner’s categorisation of the dispute. As a consequence the Applicant could not change the ambit of the dispute if, as the dispute unfolded, it was not as the Conciliating Commissioner had penned on the certificate.
Two recent judgments namely, Bombardier Transportation (Pty) Ltd / Mtiya& Others and The Road Accident Fund / SATAWU have held that a certificate’s worth is merely the statement that the Applicant may proceed with the dispute or not.
Should the Applicant believe that the Conciliating Commissioner has not correctly captured the dispute on the Certificate of Outcome, it is the Applicant’s prerogative to correct the misperception at Arbitration or the Labour Court. There is no need to take the Conciliating Commissioner on Review as such all that is required of the Conciliating Commissioner is that a Certificate of Outcome was issued 30 days after a dispute was referred.
Further, a Respondent is cautioned not to rely on the categorisation of the dispute on the Certificate of Outcome to defend itself. It is worth the effort to invite the Applicant to a Pre-Arbitration meeting in order to ascertain the facts that are common cause and those that are in dispute between the parties.
The Agenda for the meeting can be found at Rule 20 of the CCMA rules. Please note that in terms of disputes that relate to misconduct issues, a Respondent need not worry if the Applicant becomes, amongst other things, belligerent at the request for a Pre-Arbitration meeting; as such in terms of the new guidelines an Arbitrating Commissioner is required to play a more inquisitorial role and will probably insist on the minute being completed before the matter proceeds.
If the dispute is to be adjudicated at the Labour Court then the Labour Court requires a pre-trial minute to be delivered before it will set the matter down for trial. Please be aware that at the Labour Court there are various pro formas for various disputes. It is in your best interest, at this stage to consult a Labour Lawyer for the requisite guidance.