LLA1410A The Principles of Labour Dispute Resolution


This article introduces Practitioners to the principles of labour dispute resolution.

The article forms part of the book “A Practitioner’s Guide to Labour Dispute Resolution”.



This is an extract from this article:

  1. The role of the law

Law is a technique for the regulation of social power. This is true of labour law, as it is of other aspects of any legal system. Power – the capacity effectively to direct the behaviour of others – is unevenly distributed in all societies. There can be no society without a subordination of some of its members to others, without command and obedience, without rule makers and decision makers. The power to make policy, to make rules and to make decisions, and to make sure that these are obeyed, is a social power. It rests on many foundations, on wealth, on personal prestige, on tradition, sometimes on physical force, often on sheer inertia. It is sometimes supported and sometimes restrained, and sometimes even created by the law, but the law is not the principal source of social power.[1]

Commenting on the above, Van Uytrecht states

It has been pointed out that law should be viewed not as an end in itself, but rather as a means of promoting or achieving certain social ends. If this proposition is correct, then it will be evident that for law to be effective in any society, it will need to be formulated from a perspective that is well-informed as to the underlying dynamics of that particular society. Similarly, an understanding of the role of law in society can only be achieved if the basic social dynamics of the society are also understood.[2]


[1]Paul Davies & Mark Freedland Kahn-Freund’s Labour and the Law (1983) at 14.

[2]P Van Uytrecht, ‘Conflict, power, labour relations and labour law’, (1995) 16 ILJ 29


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