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Judge Reynaud Neil Daniels

Admitted as attorney: 1997
First Appointed: To Labour Court October 2023
Gender: Man
Ethnicity: Indian
Date of Birth: January 1971
Qualifications: BA (UCT), LLB (UWC), LLM (Int. Human Rights) (Northwestern University, USA)

Key judgments:

  • Morgan v Central University of Technology (2013) 13 ILJ 938 (LC)
  • NUMSA v Intervalve (Pty) Ltd and others (2015) 36 ILJ 363 (CC)
  • Equity Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd v CCMA (2008) 29 ILJ 2507 (CC)
  • Johannesburg Metropolitan Bus Services SOC Ltd v DEMAWUSA (2020) 41 ILJ 217 (LC)

Candidate Biography | Updated October 2023

In South Africa, being referred to as a ‘trade union lawyer’ is still a lofty title and a mark of pride. It represents a progressive lawyer who has placed their skill and expertise in broadening the frontiers of rights for working-class people, who make up the vast majority of South Africans. Reynaud Daniels, a director and head of labour law at well-known law firm Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom (CTH), fits neatly into the description of a ‘trade union lawyer’. He’s spent most of his 30-year legal career working for trade unions and their members in one capacity or another.

Daniels obtained a BA degree from the University of Cape Town in 1991, before completing an LLB law degree at the University of the Western Cape in 1994. He was actively involved in student politics, which he credits for his progressive political outlook.

He took up work as a candidate attorney at the Legal Resources Centre’s Cape Town’s office in 1995, working in employment law, child protection, and consumer and refugee rights. This was under the mentorship of Vincent Saldanha and Lee Bozalek, both of whom were later appointed judges of the Western Cape High Court.

After his admission as an attorney in 1997, Daniels joined the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa – currently the nation’s largest trade union – as its national legal officer.

In the role, Daniels managed the union’s legal affairs, supervising 9 regional legal officers and advising NUMSA’s leadership and shop stewards on wage negotiations and bargaining strategies. Daniels also appeared in arbitrations at the CCMA, industry bargaining councils and in the Labour Court as a union official. He notes three reported judgments where he argued in court as a union official: Columbus JV t/a Columbus Stainless Steel v NUMSA (1998), Transportation Motor Spares v NUMSA (1999), and NUMSA v Cementation Africa (1998).

Daniels returned to legal practice in 2000, joining CTH as an associate attorney, and where he has been for over 20 years.

Daniel’s CTH practice is primarily in labour litigation in various dispute resolution forums, but he also advises unions, individual employees and employers on all aspects of labour law. While he initially briefed advocates to appear on his behalf in court, he later took up those appearances himself.

Daniels served for a limited period in 2012 as an acting judge in the Labour Court, where he handed down the reported judgments in Morgan v Central University of Technology. In that case, a senior university administrator, Professor Morgan, was offered a five-year contract with one years’ probation. The contract could be terminated on three months’ notice. However, the university terminated the contract effective on the last day of probation, without the notice. Prof Morgan sued the university for contractual damages of two years’ worth of his expected salary.

In opposing Prof Morgan’s claim, the university argued that it did not need to give notice during probation, and, in any event, Prof Morgan had already found a new job.

Daniels interpreted the contract to mean that, even during the probation period the university was required give three months’ notice. Thus, the university breached its own contract for not giving notice.

However, Prof Morgan could not claim damages for the full two years as his taking up a new job meant that he had no intention to continue with the university. Therefore, the university needed to pay Morgan’s salary for only the three-month notice period, plus his legal costs.

For his expertise in employment law, Daniels is ranked in the Legal 500 by the prestigious Global Chambers and Partners. Two of the cases where he has been instructing attorney have been in the Constitutional Court, while three were in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Daniels also has an academic streak. He has published two articles in prestigious international journal, the Penn State Law Review, and  served on the editorial board of the Journal for the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) from 2019 to 2021.

Daniels holds a (BA) degree from the University of Cape Town, an LLB from the University of the Western Cape, an LLM in International Human Rights from Northwestern University (USA), and several course certificates in media and constitutional law from Wits University.

He is a board member of Lawyers Against Abuse (LvA) and international relations outfit Southern African Liaison Office.

For his application for judicial office in October 2023, Daniel was nominated by four senior counsel and a retired judge, who all speak highly of his intellect, integrity and industry. This is also supported by the General Council of the Bar in its review submitted to the JSC ahead of interviews.

October 2023 Interview

Mr Reynaud Daniels’ October 2023 interview for a position on the Labour Court (Johannesburg) was successful. He was nominated for appointment.