Chancellor clarifies non-reinstatement in majority judgment
By George Barclay
May 1, 2004
CHANCELLOR of the Judiciary Ms. Desiree Bernard yesterday sought to clarify a majority judgment in which she had decided that the dismissal of eight Supreme Court employees were null and void, but did not find in favour of re-instatement in relation to all the employees.
The clarification was sought by veteran lawyer Mr. Benjamin Gibson for the Employees. Mr. Gibson is contending that his clients apart from receiving all their benefits must be reinstated.
Delivering her clarification judgment yesterday afternoon, the Chancellor said: "This motion has been filed seeking clarification of the majority judgment delivered by this Court on April 5, 2004, more particularly the penultimate paragraph of the written judgment delivered by me and which stated that all of the Respondents "are entitled to a declaration that they were unlawfully dismissed in breach of the principles of natural justice, and to the same rights that they would have had if they had not been unlawfully dismissed, not including reinstatement."
"As mentioned in the body of the judgment all of the respondents do not stand on the same footing. I found in relation to those who were appointed by the Public Service Commission and held permanent offices within the public service, the appellant had no authority and was not delegated the power to dismiss them.
"This was clear in relation to the respondents William Blackman and Cheryl Scotland, which indicated that he held the position of First Marshal II, and by the Government Order attached to the affidavit in support of the motion filed by Cheryl Scotland, who was appointed to the post of Senior Clerk.
"In relation to those respondents other than Blackman and Scotland who hold permanent public office by virtue of their appointments by the Public Service Commission, since it has been found that the appellant had no authority to dismiss them, their dismissals were null and void and their appointments as public officers remain intact.
"With regard to the other respondents who do not hold permanent appointments by the Public Service Commission and may have been appointed on a temporary basis by the appellant, their dismissals were held to be unlawful by virtue of the failure of the appellant to observe the rules of natural justice and are entitled to a declaration that they were unlawfully dismissed.
"On the question of continuing in the same positions held prior to the purported dismissal I made reference to and adopted the views expressed by Lord Bridge of Harwich in the case of The Chief Constable of North Wales Police v. Evans (1982) 3 AER, 141 as referred to at page 25 of the judgment.
"The peace, order and good working relationship which should exist at all times between those in positions of authority and those who work under them have in this instance been so dislocated that one cannot contemplate a resumption of such a relationship in the immediate future.
"Human nature being what it is, one can envisage the undercurrent of ill feeling and acrimony which will result if the respondents were ordered to be placed back in the same positions under the control of the appellant.
"There will continue to exist an atmosphere of tension and ill-will not conducive to a harmonious working environment.
"In order to avoid further deterioration of an already fractured working relationship the Court was of the view that reinstatement to the particular positions within the Supreme Court Registry was not a wise option. I reiterate that the appointments of those who hold permanent public offices remain intact as well as entitlement to all of their benefits. Those who do not hold permanent offices and were declared to have been unlawfully dismissed are entitled to the rights which flow from having been so unlawfully dismissed.
"I hope that I have clarified ambiguities which may have arisen in the judgment. It is hoped that a speedy resolution of this matter can be effected" the Chancellor said.
Sitting with the Chancellor yesterday were Chief Justice, Mr. Carl Singh and Justice of Appeal Mr. Nandram Kissoon.