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The NCA directs in section 142 that the hearings of the Tribunal must be public, inquisitorial, expeditious, informal and in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The Tribunal strives to fulfil its mandate and has issued various decisions that clarified provisions of the NCA and set precedent.
The NCT hears all sides of an argument before making a decision. A decision made by the NCT has the same status as one made by the High Court of South Africa.
The Act sets out a number of important requirements that must be followed for the hearings:
Hearings must be in public
A presiding member may only deny the public access to a hearing if:
Hearings must be inquisitorial
The Act provides that any of the following persons may participate in a hearing, either in person or by way of a representative; can ask witnesses questions; and inspect any books, documents or items presented at the hearing:
All parties referred to above must apply the relevant rules of the Tribunal for their participation at the hearing.
Hearings must conform to the principles of natural justice
This means that the Tribunal, before making any decision, must ensure that its procedures and adjudication of cases are fair and unbiased.
Hearings must be as expeditious as possible
This requirement puts a heavy responsibility on the Tribunal member in charge. They are required to prepare in advance and ensure that all necessary allegations have been made, evidence gathered, witnesses summoned, and procedural requirements adhered to, so that the matter may be dealt with at a single sitting of the Tribunal, if possible.
Hearings must be as informal as possible
The Tribunal member in charge must hold a discussion with the parties before the hearing to determine the manner in which the dispute must be resolved. Informal hearings enable the parties to resolve their dispute with very little procedures to be followed.
The Tribunal is a Tribunal of record
All proceedings of the Tribunal, informal and formal, must be accurately and diligently recorded. Such records may be used should the decision of the Tribunal be appealed or reviewed by the High Court.
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