Appeals court reserves judgement in NBD matter

Judges of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) sitting in Dominica have reserved their decision in the  appeal case of Michel Williams against the National Bank of Dominica (NBD).

The appeals court dealt with the matter on Tuesday.

In February 2011 Justice Brian Cottle ruled that Williams was properly dismissed from the NBD.

In his ruling at the time he said “the Claimant sought, inter alia special damages in the sum of EC$2,113,114.00. I take this to be the value of the claim. I award the defendant (NBD) prescribed cost on this amount. If my arithmetic is correct, this amounts to EC$99,894.42.”

Williams appealed the matter and his lawyer Steven Fraser argued that the company (the bank) had specific bylaws for managerial staff like Williams and it was clear that those who drafted them did so with a clear intention to protect employees like (Williams) from unfair dismissal.

“The board had no power to dismiss without cause under the bylaws…we are asking the court to rule as to whether damages are recoverable for breach of contract,” Fraser told the court.

He stated that Williams’ contract was excluded from the Protection of Employment Act of Dominica and that the terms of the contract provided for a renewal at all times.

“They breached the implied terms of trust and confidence in the contract,” Fraser argued.

In response NBD attorney Alick Lawrence told the court that the contract made provisions for “illness” and the clause “by no fault” has strengthen the hands of the employer.

He said Williams’ allegation that he was “victimized by then manager Gregory Degannes” was unfounded.

“When one looks at the evidence, Williams was of the view that he was the victim of a criminal enterprise of Degannes as it relates to a loan he (Degannes) wanted but that was denied,” Lawrence said.

He told the court that the decision to dismiss Williams was not that of Degannes but was done by “the board.”

“There are no allegations that the board was controlled by Degannes, the board was independent,” the NBD lawyer told the court.

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  1. Justice and Truth
    May 2, 2012

    Where do we go from here? I suppose that the Appeals Court is reviewing this case to hopefully make a wise decision. My view is that the ruling should be in favour of the complainant and pay him what he has requested.
    A person in his position, he should have been given 6 months as, let us state, ‘on probation.’ At no time should he be fired ‘without just cause.’ This is the height of stupidity. I have previously stated this. Such a cause and clause should not exist in any contract. It is discriminating towards employees.
    At the completion of this 6 months tenure or prior to with a contract or a managerial position without a contract, a performance appraisal should be prepared by the person whom he reports to – his boss – on his effectiveness or not; not the Board of Directors. According to what was stated, he could have been told, i.e. the employee, his tenure will either continue ‘with a reasonable increase in salary’ or that his position is terminated due to ineffectiveness. This is how I know it and this is how it should be with no exception. The National Bank of Dominica (NBD) need to re-write their rules and regulations.
    I am unable to comprehend what type of Laws exist in Dominica. Some of them appear to be outdated and unfair, at least some of them, as in the days when employees had no rights and they could have been fired on-the-spur of the moment and for foolishness which had nothing to do with performance, even rudeness and disrespect from employers and managers. Wickedness of the heart and envy could be a good cause of this. Those employees did not receive one cent including an income from the former employer and government for their livelihood, the latter, as it is today.
    How I would love to establish a Human Rights Office in Dominica or it is high time that the government establish one. It is too bad, for now, I reside overseas. Would love to set some things which need to be changed, made straight and fair in Dominica. :lol:
    I am an advocate of fairness to all with no exception. I like to state, it is a hereditary trait. If people are wrong, they are wrong. If people are right, they are right. We must utilize our common sense and good judgment.
    There is a lot of injustice in the world. The world, no exception in Dominica without being overly critical need more people who are fair and who do not pursue their own personal agenda but looking out for others and being kind and helpful to them be it in the work force. I did not learn this residing overseas. I learned it right in my parents’ home from childhood in DA. I dislike no one but I detest the evil attitudes of some people toward others. By this God will judge us. It is better to do good than to do evil; far better. This means not dismissing an employee without just cause, saying that it is stipulated in the contract. Big deal! Properly dismissed? I state not! It is an unfair regulation. What they do not like for themselves they should not do to another. The Golden Rule.

    • Hot Shot
      May 3, 2012

      I didn’t read your entire article but the news report seem to be insufficient to permit analysis and even fair commentary. The particulars of Williams’ case are not clearly reported. DNO did not do justice to this case. If there was not sufficient info released by the Court, this news item should not have been released in the form it was.
      On a related matter, a contract can make provisions for several instances of determination. If the employee signed a contract which expressly provides for termination “at anytime and without cause” then so be it. The Protection of Employment Act does not apply to managers, therefore the manager’s protection is the wording and content of his contract. While the termination of employees has to be for cause, the termination of employment of managers can be done on notice, say, betwen 3 and 6 months notice.

      • Justice and Truth
        May 3, 2012

        @ Hot Shot

        Common sense is required. There was a previous article and based on both we could draw our conclusion and comment. Even though there is a ‘without just cause’ clause which should not have been in the contract in the first place, it really makes no sense and is unfair to employees.
        If you were in a similar position, how would you feel and what would your re-action be?
        So Dominica has contract employees now and for a government bank? You can call it a part-time, temporary insecure job. It adopts what is done overseas. Anyway, why a contract? Simply hire him as an employee and follow procedures for employees.
        We are in a bad dilemma or the world in general. There are few full-time jobs. The reason for that is the employer saves money. If employees arrive late, even though it is not through their fault, it could be a commuting problem or are sick or for some other serious reason, the employees will not get paid for that time. If they were sick for an extended time or are in the hospital, they will not get paid.
        When they are hired on contract or as a part-time worker, they are more scrutinized and probably are expected to work harder. These are not stable jobs.
        I am surprised that at especially a bank a contract job or jobs have been introduced. Those employees are the losers.
        I am totally against contract jobs and part-time work for obvious reasons. Sadly, this is the norm today all over the world. Consider the future generation. What will be left for them? They will be worst off than we are today. Times are not getting better and it is not the fault of employees.
        Firstly, employers started these types of jobs. Secondly, governments fell on the band wagon and adopted it. At the end of a six-month contract, employers reserve the right not to renew it. It depends on the agreement pertaining to the contract between employer and employee. However, dismissing a contract employee ‘without just cause’ seems silly and unfair to me. The employee has the right to sue this employer.
        Just think, an employer calls you and says that you are dismissed without just cause and prior to the end of the contract. No reason given. Does that make sense to you?
        Is it any wonder people are purchasing lottery tickets in the hope they win a lottery. Those who are fortunate to win and are employed, they immediately say, goodbye to working.
        I could write a book about that. :) Did you see the movie 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton pertaining to women office workers and what they did to the boss. It is funny. It is not a new movie. It was shown recently on TV. I saw it twice. This time I taped it.
        Once again I did not mean to make this so long. It so happened. Have a great day/evening!

  2. Papa Dom
    May 2, 2012

    This matter highlights what Tiyani said “there is a lack of scholarship in the legal profession” A “termination at will” clause in a contract have the court basoudee. They should speak with HR in any major company outside of the caribbean and they will be informed that the clause cannot be used to victimise people. Furthermore there is no policy alligned to this clause making it inoperable.

    May 2, 2012

    cottle again

  4. Hot Shot
    May 2, 2012

    I find this report lacking critical information that a reader needs to fully understand this particular news item. Alick Lawrence’s telling the Court about “illness” and “by no fault” is confusing. Was Williams ill at the time of his dismissal? I really do not understand that part of NBD’s defense. DNO, you can come much better than this.

    • Justice and Truth
      May 2, 2012

      @ Hot Shot

      I do not want to criticize but this story is lacking certain information. Would this be DNO’s fault or this was the information DNO was given and posted it?

  5. May 2, 2012

    so what does this mean? until when?

    • Really
      May 2, 2012

      It means they have refrained from making an immediate judgement but will take some time to consider the matter further before issuing a judgement. This could be a written judgement and not necessarily given from the bench. Until when? Not sure.

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