Weekly Advice And Tips
Can I use a lawyer at the CCMA?
Most people want to know if they can get a lawyer to appear for them at the CCMA. Its important to first understand that the CCMA was created to solve labour disputes quickly and correctly without having to go through expensive litigation.
Having said that, many employers generally arrive at the CCMA with their lawyers on the day of the hearing. So it helps to have somebody in your corner as well.
Let’s look at an example to understand how legal representation works at the CCMA. Jacob is working as an office manager for a big accounting firm. Jacob feels that he has been unfairly dismissed. So refers a dispute at the CCMA within 30 days.
On the day of the hearing Jacob notices that the company comes with a hot shot lawyer. What does he do?
The general principle is that there is no absolute right to legal representation at the CCMA. The Commissioner and the other party must consent to legal representation.
If you want a lawyer present for your arbitration, then you need to state this at the conciliation stage. You must explain why you need a lawyer.
If on the day you of the hearing, you see the other side has a lawyer (like the situation Jacob is in above), then you can object to this. You can argue for a postponement in order to give you time to get a lawyer as well.
Possible reasons for the postponement include the fact that this has taken you by surprise (i.e. you were not expecting a lawyer) and your ability vs the lawyers ability will place you in unfair position.