TERMS AND RELATIONSHIP OF A CONTRACT ARE THE BEDROCK OF ANY CASE

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CASE TITLE: TAYLEK DRUGS CO. LTD v. ONANKPA (2018) LPELR-45882(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 1ST NOVEMBER, 2018

PRACTICE AREA: LABOUR LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: JUMMAI HANNATU SANKEY, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION:

This appeal borders on Labour Law.

FACTS:

This is an appeal against the decision of the National Industrial Court, Makurdi Division, sitting at Makurdi.

The Respondent, a Pharmacist, was employed by the Appellant as a Medical Representative under a written contract which was subject to confirmation after probation for a period of nine months. The letter of appointment stated the terms of employment in respect of remuneration, other allowances and termination of the employment. For reasons of poor performance, the Appellant declined to confirm the appointment of the Respondent after the expiration of nine months stipulated as agreed in the contract of employment, and instead wrote two letters to him stating her reasons for not doing so. Despite this, the Respondent continued to work with the Appellant and even received an upward review of his salary and allowances. Sometime after his confirmation had been deferred twice, the Respondent wrote a letter to the Appellant explaining his non-performance and asked for more time to improve.

However, the Appellant failed to pay the Respondent his salaries for a period of seven months and so the Respondent handed in his resignation. The Appellant however refused to accept his resignation and alleged instead that the Respondent had misappropriated the funds of the Appellant. Consequently, the Respondent filed a suit before the trial Court claiming from the Appellant inter alia, his salary from April to November, 2014. The Appellant denied the claim and counterclaimed for the sums of money which she alleged was misappropriated by the Respondent. The Appellant in turn denied the counterclaim.

The matter progressed to trial, after which, the trial Court found in favour of the claim of the Respondent and dismissed the Appellant’s counterclaim. Aggrieved by this decision, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:

The appeal was determined on the following issues:

“1. Whether the trial Court was right in holding that the Respondent’s employment was deemed to have been confirmed after 9 months from the date of his employment?

  1. Whether the Respondent is deemed to have accepted Appellant’s letter of deferment or has waived his right by not rejecting the letters of postponement of his confirmation?
  2. Whether the trial Court was right to have awarded the Respondent his annual salary when there is evidence that he received his salary up to the date he resigned his appointment?
  3. Whether the trial Court was right in dismissing the Appellant’s counterclaim?.”

DECISION/HELD:

In conclusion, the appeal was dismissed.

RATIOS:

  • ACTION- PLEADINGS: Whether an allegation of fraud must be specifically pleaded
  • EVIDENCE- ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE: Rule for admissibility of evidence
  • EVIDENCE- STANDARD OF PROOF: The required standard of proof where the commission of crime is in issue in any proceedings
  • EVIDENCE- PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT: Effect of failure to prove an allegation of crime beyond reasonable doubt in a civil proceeding
  • LABOUR LAW- PROBATIONARY PERIOD: Effect of failure to confirm or terminate an employees appointment after probationary period.

lawpavilion • November 15, 2018


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