A 7.13 referral form, also referred to as a request for arbitration, is a document that needs to be completed by the referring party wherein it is requested that the dispute be resolved by the CCMA or Bargaining Council by way of arbitration. A request for arbitration form needs to be completed if parties fail to resolve the dispute through conciliation, and the Commissioner issues a certificate of outcome to this effect.

The referring party needs to complete the request for arbitration and will need the certificate of outcome issued by the Commissioner at the conciliation stage. Section 136(1)(b) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 provides that a request for arbitration must be made within ninety (90) days from the date on which the certificate of outcome has been issued that the dispute has not been resolved.

If the prescribed time period is not adhered to, the referring party will have to apply for condonation for the late filing of the request for arbitration, which needs to be in the prescribed form and contain, amongst other things, the reasons for the lateness. A decision will firstly need to be made on the issue of condonation, which will bring about a delay in the process.

The importance of a correctly completed 7.13 referral form in the furtherance and expeditious finalisation of disputes before the CCMA and the various Bargaining Councils cannot be understated. For instance, when filling in and completing the 7.13 referral form, the relevant party must ensure that the correct case number and primary issue is cited in line with the certificate of outcome. The 7.13 form furthermore needs to be signed either by the referring party or an individual who is entitled to represent the referring party in terms of the CCMA Rules regarding representation in the proceedings at hand.

The 7.13 referral needs to be completed and then served on the other party to the dispute together with the certificate of outcome. Once the documentation has been served on the other party to the dispute, the request for arbitration and proof of service needs to be filed with the CCMA or the Bargaining Council in question.

The referring party needs to make sure that they have the correct contact details of the other party to utilise for service. If the request for arbitration is sent to the incorrect contact details, this might very well lead to a delay in the process down the line as the same contact details will be used for the Notice of Set Down of the matter.

The other party to the dispute will then be able to raise a jurisdictional point stating that they did not receive notice of the matter and will not be able to proceed or they will not attend the proceedings at all as they are not aware thereof.

If you are the referring party, it is a prudent practice to phone and confirm that your request for arbitration has been received in good order by both the other party and the CCMA or Bargaining Council. If the documentation is received in good order, the parties to the dispute will receive a Notice of Set Down for arbitration. In terms of Rule 21 of the CCMA Rules, parties need to receive at least twenty-one (21) days’ notice of arbitration unless the parties agree to a shorter time period.

If the referring party does not complete the 7.13 correctly and the same is not signed, they run the risk of the other party or the Commissioner raising a jurisdictional point that the request for arbitration is defective and that the CCMA or Bargaining Council subsequently does not have the necessary jurisdiction to deal with the dispute up until the defect has been remedied.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the documentation referring the matter to arbitration is correctly completed, served on the other party, and filed with the CCMA or Bargaining Council within the prescribed timeframe to ensure that the dispute is dealt with as swiftly as possible. On the other hand, from an employer’s point of view, it is essential that upon receipt of the 7.13 form from an applicant, that same gets sent through to your nearest CEO office as this document will signify that a set down date will soon be forthcoming from the CCMA or Bargaining Council.

Article by: Ilze Erasmus
Dispute Resolution Official – Gqeberha