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Judge Kelsey Allen-Yaman

Capacity: Judge
First admitted as advocate: April 2009
Previous admissions: 2003 (Attorney) 2006 (Solicitor, England & Wales)
First Appointed: To Labour Court October 2023
Gender: Female
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth:
Qualifications: B.Proc (2000), LLB (2001)(Unisa)

Key judgments:

Candidate Biography | Updated October 2023

Advocate Kelsey Allen-Yaman is an advocate at the KwaZulu-Natal Bar and acting judge of the Labour Court, Durban.

It’s not common that a retiring judge nominates a candidate to replace them as their successor. It says a lot about the candidate’s qualities when such a thing happens.  Judge Hamilton Cele has nominated Advocate Kelsey Allen-Yaman as his successor at the Labour Court in Durban.

Writing about Allen-Yaman, Cele says:

“[Ms Allen]has the ability to master, sometimes on short notice, legally and factually complex matters. Importantly, Ms Allen has a sense of empathy – a genuine concern for the plight of others. I have known her often, on her own volition or at the request of the court, to represent or assist individuals on a pro bono basis.”

The Durban-born Allen-Yaman started her legal career as a candidate attorney at the law firm Golding-Venniker. After her admission, she practiced as an attorney at labour law firm Farrel & Associates (2003 – 2006). She thereafter went abroad and was admitted as a solicitor in England, United Kingdom. On return to South Africa, she joined the employment law department of ‘Big 5’ law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (2008).

After completing pupillage at the end of 2009, Allen-Yaman started her practice as an advocate at the KwaZulu-Natal Bar in Durban the following year.

As an advocate she specialized in employment, appearing frequently in the Labour Court, Labour Appeal Court and other labour dispute forum including various bargaining councils and the CCMA.

In terms of judicial experience, Allen-Yaman has sat as an arbitrator with the Arbitration Foundation of SA. Since February 2022 , she has also served as an acting judge in the Labour Court, dealing with trials, reviews, and motion applications.

While acting as a judge, Allen-Yaman wrote the judgment in Nandos Scottsville v CCMA. In that case, Mr Ntokozo Gwala, an employee of chicken restaurant chain Nando’s was dismissed on gross misconduct charges for “unauthorized consumption of company stock”. Mr Gwala was employed as a “front griller” and while roasting a vegetable order tasted two slices of carrots from the grill. Nando’s charged him with dishonesty and gross misconduct and, following a disciplinary hearing, dismissed him. On review, the CCMA found that there was no dishonesty as Mr Gwala was not aware of the prohibition against tasting food. When Nando’s took the case on further review in the Labour Court, Allen-Yaman agreed with the CCMA.

Allen-Yaman found that there was no evidence to show that Mr Gwala had acted dishonestly, as he had tasted the carrots to identify a problem with the grilling oven that another colleague of his confirmed. In any event, Allen-Yaman found, Nando’s own employee manuals were silent on the issue of tasting food. Furthermore, it was common for Nandos’ managers to confuse the size of drink they may have with their food, but Nando’s never disciplined them for this because it accepted it to be based on a misunderstanding.  While unauthorized consumption of food is a breach of a workplace rule, Allen-Yaman found that the lack of dishonesty means that Nando’s zero-tolerance approach towards Gwala was unjustified as it was not properly communicated to employees. She therefore dismissed Nando’s review, which meant that Mr Gwala must be reinstated to his job.

Allen-Yaman has run a labour law course for pupils at the Durban Bar. She has also published in the De Rebus magazine an article titled the death of derivative misconduct on a strike-related judgment of the Constitutional Court, NUMSA v Dunlop.

October 2023 Interview

Adv Kelsey Allen-Yaman’s October 2023 interview for a position on the Labour Court was successful. She was nominated for appointment.