n Malawi Law Journal - On the jurisdictional bifurcation in labour disputes in Malawi

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1996-7675



This article deals with the legal quandary presented by section 108(1) of the Constitution, which entrusts unlimited original jurisdiction in all criminal and civil proceedings in the High Court, and section 110(2) of the same Constitution (buttressed by the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Act), which bequeaths original jurisdiction in labour disputes and any other disputes relating to employment to the Industrial Relations Court (IRC). It examines the two schools of thought that have emerged to resolve this dilemma - on the one hand, that all labour and employment disputes must first be heard by the IRC and, on the other hand, that there is nothing wrong with the High Court hearing labour and employment cases at first instance. After a considered analysis of the provisions involved and the case law generated by them, it argues that, strictly speaking, there is no legal bar to the High Court's competence in labour issues except those presented by practical considerations. Consequently, a constitutional amendment is needed to secure the exclusive jurisdictional competence of the IRC in all labour disputes and thus conclusively resolve the issue.

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