An analysis of the presentation and admissibility of evidence at CCMA arbitrations.
Historically, labour dispute resolution in South Africa has been synonymous with being expensive, unnecessarily lengthy and ineffective. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) 66 of 1995 set out to change this through the creation of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The design of the CCMA is centred on a dispute resolution institution that adopts a quick, cheap and non-legalistic approach to dispute resolution. Through the introduction of compulsory arbitration for specified dismissal and unfair labour practice disputes, the LRA granted the CCMA the mandate of upholding the objectives of industrial peace and reducing exorbitant legal costs. The outcome of arbitration proceedings conducted under the auspices of the CCMA are final and binding. Accordingly, this sui generis type of proceedings aimed at being cheap and informal has several implications. The adherence to traditional legal principles, in particular the rules relating to the presentation and admissibility of evidence cannot be adhered to rigorously in a forum where parties are unrepresented and that has informality as a defining feature. This paper set out to examine the proposition that based on various statutory powers; arbitrations are to be conducted informally and free from legalism- which necessarily entails a relaxation if not elimination of the traditional exclusionary rules pertaining to the presentation and admission of evidence.