MAKE YOUR SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AN ORDER OF COURT!
The Labour Appeal Court, in Maryka Greef versus Consol Glass (case no. CA02/12, judgment delivered 21 May 2013) stated that a settlement agreement could be made an order of court even if the dispute had not been referred to the Labour Court or the CCMA.
The court added that:
Making settlement agreements orders of court may be regarded as important for the protection of the rights of the parties to the settlement. It not only facilitates and enables execution through court processes, but would enable an aggrieved party to institute contempt proceedings if the order of court is not complied with.
This is good news and a narrow interpretation of the applicable sections in the Labour Relations Act has been rejected.
I have previously recommended to clients to have a clause in any agreement that reads as follows:
“Should any party so wish, it may apply to court, on an unopposed basis, to have this Agreement made an order of court”.
This would make the path to enforcement easier from the outset. I recommend that this be done with all labour agreements, including retrenchment agreements, consensual terminations, wage disputes, other collective bargaining disputes, internal grievance settlements, discrimination disputes, promotion and demotion disputes, etc..
Readers are encouraged to read the full judgment available on the Internet under SA Labour Appeal Court or www.justice.gov.za/labour courts.