Kylie v Ccma and Others

JurisdictionSouth Africa
JudgeZondo JP, Davis JA and Jappie JA
Judgment Date28 May 2010
CourtLabour Appeal Court, Johannesburg
Hearing Date11 March 2010
Citation2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC)
CounselW Trengove SC (with C Kahanowitz SC, S Cowen and N Mji) for the appellant. No appearance for the respondents.
Docket NumberCA 10/08

Davis JA:

Introduction

[1] The appellant was a sex worker who was employed in a massage H parlour to perform various sexual services for a reward. [1]

[2] On 27 April 2006 appellant was informed that her employment was terminated, apparently without a prior hearing, for a series of reasons I

Davis JA

A which are not essentially relevant to the present dispute. On 14 August 2006 the dispute was referred to arbitration that was set down to be heard on 13 September 2006. Before evidence could be heard, second respondent enquired as to whether first respondent had jurisdiction to hear the matter, in the light of the fact that the appellant had been B employed as a sex worker and accordingly her employment was unlawful. On 11 December 2006 second respondent handed down a ruling in which she concluded that first respondent did not have jurisdiction to arbitrate on an unfair dismissal in a case of this nature. It was against this ruling that the appellant approached the court a quo on review.

C [3] Cheadle AJ held that the definition of employee in s 213 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (LRA) was wide enough to include a person whose contract of employment was unenforceable in terms of the common law. However, he held that a sex worker was not entitled to protection against unfair dismissal as provided in terms of s 185(a) of the LRA because it would be contrary to a common-law principle which D had become entrenched in the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act 108 of 1996 (the Constitution), that courts 'ought not to sanction or encourage illegal activity'.

[4] In order to fully analyse the submissions made on behalf of appellant [2] by Mr Trengove, who appeared together with Mr Kahanowitz, E Ms Cowen and Ms Mji, it is necessary to analyse the precise reasoning employed by Cheadle AJ more comprehensively.

The judgment of the court a quo

[5] As noted, Cheadle AJ defined the essential question as whether 'as a F matter of public policy, courts (and tribunals) by their actions ought to sanction or encourage illegal conduct in the context of statutory and constitutional rights'.

[6] Cheadle AJ then referred to the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1957 (the Act), which makes brothel keeping a criminal offence and which defines G the concept of a brothel to include persons who reside in a brothel and share in any moneys taken there (s 3(a) and (c)). In terms of s 20(1A)(a) of the Act, unlawful carnal intercourse for reward constitutes a criminal offence which attracts a criminal penalty of imprisonment of no more than three years and a fine of no more than R6000.

H [7] On this basis Cheadle AJ invoked the principle ex turpi causa non oritur actio which 'prohibits the enforcement of immoral or illegal contracts'. Thus, if a contract is illegal, courts must regard the contract as void and hence unenforceable. In turn, a contract is illegal if it is contrary to public policy, and it is against public policy to engage in a contract which is contrary to law or morality. Citing Christie The Law of Contract in South Africa I 5 ed at 382, Cheadle AJ noted that courts regarded adultery and commercial sex as immoral and of such turpitude as to render an agreement concerning or linked to such morality as void and thus unenforceable.

Davis JA

[8] Turning to the implications of a statutory prohibition and to the A application of the ex turpi causa rule, Cheadle AJ found that the rule applies, if a statute properly interpreted, intends to nullify a contract arising from or associated with a legally prohibited activity. While the corollary to the ex turpi causa rule, the in pari delicto rule, does on occasion relax the former rule, that relaxation does not compromise the B underlying policy of discouraging illegality of contractual relationships. As the court stated in Jajbhay v Cassim 1939 AD 537, the relaxation is only justified if there are claims of simple justice between individuals of which account must be taken, and if public policy is 'not foreseeably affected by a grant or a refusal of the relief claimed' (at 545). C

[9] Applying this dictum to the provisions of the Act, Cheadle AJ concluded that the language which was employed in the statute clearly supports the conclusion that a contravention of a prohibition of the Act results in the nullifying of a contract made in pursuit of, or which is associated with, the prohibition.

[10] For Cheadle AJ the question arose, on the basis of this finding, as D to whether, notwithstanding the invalidity of the contractual relationship, s 23 of the Constitution affected the conclusion of the court a quo, being a finding which was clearly adverse to the appellant. The question can be phrased thus: Does a constitutional protection of fair labour practices as enshrined in s 23 of the Constitution apply to a person who E would, but for an engagement in illegal employment, enjoy the benefits of this constitutional right? That question was answered in the negative by the court a quo, primarily because, were such rights to be granted, a court would undermine a fundamental constitutional value of the rule of law by sanctioning or encouraging legally prohibited activity. In the view F of the learned judge in the court a quo, that conclusion was supported by the Constitutional Court in its decision in S v Jordan and Others (Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force and Others as Amici Curiae) 2002 (6) SA 642 (CC) (2002 (2) SACR 499; 2002 (11) BCLR 1117) at para 28.

[11] The court a quo further bolstered its approach by examining the G nature of dismissal legislation. In terms of s 193(2) of the LRA, in the case of an unfair dismissal the primary remedy is reinstatement or re-employment. In the view of Cheadle AJ:

'Nothing illustrates the conflict of the objective of the right to a fair dismissal and the objects of the Sexual Offences Act more than the issue H of reinstatement. An order of reinstatement is the primary remedy for an unfair dismissal. Reinstating a person in illegal employment would not only sanction illegal activity but may constitute an order on the employer to commit a crime.'

[12] Cheadle AJ then engaged in an alternative analysis, on the assumption I that s 23 of the Constitution does afford constitutional protection to the appellant. He concluded that in such a case the Act constituted a justifiable limitation upon the s 23-sourced constitutional rights of appellant, essentially because the limitation 'gives effect to the fundamental rule of law principle: courts should not by their actions sanction or encourage illegal activity'. J

Davis JA

A [13] So much for the essential reasoning employed by Cheadle AJ in the court a quo. I turn now to deal with the primary submissions of appellant.

Appellant's case

B [14] Mr Trengove attacked the reasoning as adopted by Cheadle AJ in the court a quo. In his view, instead of starting with a discussion of public policy as divined from the law of contract, the proper approach was to commence with the Constitution and in particular, whether in principle a person such as appellant enjoyed constitutional rights in general and specifically those rights set out in s 23. Only if the question of the C application of the Constitution to this dispute was answered in favour of the appellant, was the court then required to proceed to examine issues relating to the appropriate remedy. In Mr Trengove's view it is at this stage that concerns of public policy become applicable.

[15] The question of the application of the Constitution thus becomes D the starting point for appellant's argument. Thereafter, Mr Trengove contended that the LRA must be read so as to implement s 23 of the Constitution, a point reiterated recently by Ngcobo J (as he then was) in Chirwa v Transnet Ltd and Others 2008 (4) SA 367 (CC) ((2008) 29 ILJ 73; 2008 (3) BCLR 251; [2008] 2 BLLR 97) in para 110:

E 'The objects of the LRA are not just textual aides to be employed where the language is ambiguous. This is apparent from the interpretive injunction in s 3 of the LRA which requires anyone applying the LRA to give effect to its primary objects and the Constitution. The primary objects of the LRA must inform the interpretive process and the provisions of the LRA must be read in the light of its objects. Thus F where a provision of the LRA is capable of more than one plausible interpretation, one which advances the objects of the LRA and the other which does not, a court must prefer the one which will effectuate the primary objects of the LRA.'

For this reason therefore, since the present dispute is predicated on the G application of the LRA, it is necessary to commence with the source of the LRA, that is, to engage in an examination of the application of s 23(1) of the Constitution to the present dispute.

The scope of the s 23 right

H [16] Section 23(1) provides that 'everyone has the right to fair labour practices'. The term 'everyone', which follows the wording of s 7(1) of the Constitution (which provides that the Bill of Rights enshrines the right 'of all people in the country'), is supportive of an extremely broad approach to the scope of the right guaranteed in the Constitution.

I [17] This point was confirmed by Ngcobo J (as he then was) in Khosa and Others v Minister of Social Development and Others; Mahlaule and Others v Minister of Social Development and Others 2004 (6) SA 505 (CC) (2004 (6) BCLR 569) at para 111:

'The word "everyone" is a term of general import and unrestricted meaning. It means what it conveys. Once the state puts in place a social J welfare system, everyone has a right to have access to that system.'

Davis JA

[18] From its inception, the Constitutional Court has been consistent in A this approach. In S v Makwanyane and Another 1995 (3) SA 391 (CC) (1995 (2) SACR 1; 1995 (6) BCLR 665) at para...

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13 practice notes
  • 2010 index
    • South Africa
    • South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...361Kylie v Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration and Others 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC) .............................................................. 407LLenco Holdings v Eckstein 1996 (2) SA 693 (N) .......................................... 139MMasiya v Director of Public Prose......
  • Some thoughts on the consequences of illegal contracts
    • South Africa
    • Acta Juridica No. , August 2021
    • 23 August 2021
    ...law.6 S ee Cool Ideas 1186 CC v Hubbard 2014 (4) SA 474 (CC) para 98; Wypkema v Lubbe 200 7 (5) SA 138 (SCA) para 13; Kylie v CCM A 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC). The roots of th is idea run deep: see Dodd v Ha dley 1905 TS 439.7 JC d e Wet & AH van Wyk Kontraktereg en Handelsreg 5 ed (G Lubbe ed )......
  • The Precarious Employment Position of Ministers of Religion: Servants of God but not of the Church
    • South Africa
    • Stellenbosch Law Review No. , May 2019
    • 27 May 2019
    ...anonym ous referees for thei r valuable comments a nd guidance.1 Kylie v Commissione r for Conciliation Med iation and Arbitr ation 2010 4 SA 383 (LAC).2 Discovery H ealth Ltd v Commiss ioner for Concili ation Mediati on and Arbitrat ion 2008 29 ILJ 1480 (LC).3 Denel (Pty) Ltd v G erber 200......
  • The role of the judiciary in balancing flexibility and security
    • South Africa
    • De Jure No. 46-2, January 2013
    • 1 January 2013
    ...of Cape Town2003 2 BCLR 154 (CC) par 54.59 Refer to South African Municipal Workers’ Union v Rand Airport ManagementCo Ltd 2005 3 BLLR 241 (LAC); Crossroads Distributions (Pty) Ltd t/a JowellsTransport v Clover SA (Pty) Ltd 2008 6 BLLR 565 (LC); Chemical Energy PaperPrinting Wood & Allied W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 cases
  • Edcon v Steenkamp, and Related Matters
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...Independent Outdoor Media (Pty) Ltd and Others v City of Cape Town [2013] 2 All SA 679 (SCA): referred to Kylie v CCMA and Others 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC) ((2010) 31 ILJ 1600): compared D Leoni Wiring Systems (East London) (Pty) Ltd v NUMSA and Others (2007) 28 ILJ 642 (LC): referred Louw v Ma......
  • Universal Church of the Kingdom of God v Ccma
    • South Africa
    • 28 November 2013
    ...29 June 2012. [35] Petrus (supra) at paras [17] – [18]. [36] (2008) 29 ILJ 1480 (LC) at para [51]. See also 'Kylie' v CCMA & others 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC); (2010) 31 ILJ 1600 (LAC); [2010] 7 BLLR 705 (LAC) paras 21-27; and Southern Sun Hotel Interests (Pty) Ltd v CCMA & ors (2011) 32 ILJ 275......
  • Endeshan v Minister of Safety and Security
    • South Africa
    • 7 April 2016
    ...to protect freedom, equality and dignity and is concerned to protect the vulnerable, exploited and powerless. See: Kylie v CCMA 2010 (4) SA 383 LAC, par 46 and 50; SATAWU v Garvas 2013 (1) SA 83 CC, par 61 and It turned out, in the end, that he indeed was not an undocumented person or an il......
  • Smith v Parsons NO and Others
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...of motion as annexure A, as an amendment to the will of the late Walter Percival Smith (identity No 511027 50335 089) for the purposes 2010 (4) SA p383 Seriti AJA of the Administration of Estates Act 66 of 1965. A 2. The costs of the application are costs in the winding up of the deceased's......
9 books & journal articles
  • 2010 index
    • South Africa
    • South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...361Kylie v Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration and Others 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC) .............................................................. 407LLenco Holdings v Eckstein 1996 (2) SA 693 (N) .......................................... 139MMasiya v Director of Public Prose......
  • Some thoughts on the consequences of illegal contracts
    • South Africa
    • Acta Juridica No. , August 2021
    • 23 August 2021
    ...law.6 S ee Cool Ideas 1186 CC v Hubbard 2014 (4) SA 474 (CC) para 98; Wypkema v Lubbe 200 7 (5) SA 138 (SCA) para 13; Kylie v CCM A 2010 (4) SA 383 (LAC). The roots of th is idea run deep: see Dodd v Ha dley 1905 TS 439.7 JC d e Wet & AH van Wyk Kontraktereg en Handelsreg 5 ed (G Lubbe ed )......
  • The Precarious Employment Position of Ministers of Religion: Servants of God but not of the Church
    • South Africa
    • Stellenbosch Law Review No. , May 2019
    • 27 May 2019
    ...anonym ous referees for thei r valuable comments a nd guidance.1 Kylie v Commissione r for Conciliation Med iation and Arbitr ation 2010 4 SA 383 (LAC).2 Discovery H ealth Ltd v Commiss ioner for Concili ation Mediati on and Arbitrat ion 2008 29 ILJ 1480 (LC).3 Denel (Pty) Ltd v G erber 200......
  • The role of the judiciary in balancing flexibility and security
    • South Africa
    • De Jure No. 46-2, January 2013
    • 1 January 2013
    ...of Cape Town2003 2 BCLR 154 (CC) par 54.59 Refer to South African Municipal Workers’ Union v Rand Airport ManagementCo Ltd 2005 3 BLLR 241 (LAC); Crossroads Distributions (Pty) Ltd t/a JowellsTransport v Clover SA (Pty) Ltd 2008 6 BLLR 565 (LC); Chemical Energy PaperPrinting Wood & Allied W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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