In Myathaza v Johannesburg Metropolitan Bus Service (Soc) Limited t/a Metrobus; Mazibuko v Concor Plant; Cellucity (Pty) Ltd v CWU obo Peters [2015] ZALAC 45, the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) confirmed a widely held view, i.e. that:


‘Even though, generally, an arbitration award under the LRA is not a “judgment debt” under the Prescription Act, it comfortably satisfies the definitional criteria of a mere “debt” under that Act. The other categories of debt in the Prescription Act are clearly not applicable. Accordingly, a three year prescriptive period is applicable to such arbitration awards (i.e. the debts embodied in them) generally.’


The LAC however further stressed that ‘[c]ertification therefore has nothing to do with whether the award is due or not, but is part of the process of executing an award as if it is an order of the Labour Court’.  As such neither the application to certify an award nor the certification of an award stays prescription.


The LAC finally concluded that:

‘. . . a review to set aside an award is not “process whereby the creditor claims payment of the debt”. On the contrary, it is a process whereby the debtor seeks to set aside the debt. Such a review, therefore, does not interrupt prescription. But for the amendment contained in section 145(9), the same principle would have pertained to reviews in respect of awards made after January 2015.’


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