The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
This case concerned the appellant's entitlement to notice of meeting prior to removal as company director. The appellant claimed relief for a declaration that his purported dismissal was a repudiatory breach of his contract of employment and that he was denied the right to a notice meeting pursuant to sections 236, 262 and 266 of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
The counsel for the respondent contended that against the background of the appellant's contention the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. Given the above claim of the appellant, he should have approached the Federal High Court for the resolution of his complaint of the breaches and not the trial court.
This court held that the dismissal of the appellant was not lawful because of lack of due process. However, the trial court below lacked jurisdiction and since the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to enter the matter, the lower court, equally, lacked the jurisdiction to deal with the appeal before it. Thus, the appeal was found to be unmeritorious and was struck out for want of jurisdiction.
The issue was whether the trial judge’s decision was affected by the lapse of time (19 months) between the adoption of written addresses and the delivery of judgment. The dispute emanated from the dismissal of the respondent as the principal assistant registrar of the appellant college. The respondent successfully challenged the dismissal and the lower court awarded him damages amounting to approximately 1.6 million Naira together with reinstatement.
The appellant challenged the lower court’s ruling on the grounds that due to the time lapse between the hearing of evidence and delivery of judgement the trial judge was not able to make proper judgement. The appellants further argued that the s 294(1) Constitution requires that judgement must be delivered in 3 months.
The court pointed out that section 294(5) of the Constitution also provides that delay in the delivery of judgment does not lead to a judgment being vitiated. The delay must occasion a miscarriage of justice to result in such a conclusion.
In deciding the matter, the court held that the errors made by the trial judge shows that he was no longer in position to properly appraise the evidence. This resulted in the miscarriage of justice and the appeal was upheld.
The appellants, employees of the first respondent, appealed a decision against the lower court that dismissed the appellants’ suit claiming wrongful termination.
The court began its consideration of the appeal by assessing the implication of collecting entitlements by the appellants whilst their case was pending, and whether this estopped them from bringing a challenge against their termination. The Supreme Court held that collection of terminal benefits in respect of wrongfully terminated employment would not be a bar to challenging the wrongful termination. If a termination is wrongful then it cannot be remedied by the subsequent act of the injured party. The appellants were therefore held not to be estopped from challenging their termination.
The court held that the main issue for determination was whether employment of the appellants was wrongfully terminated. The sole witness for the appellants stated that there were conditions of service governing their employments, but failed to tender any documentary evidence in support thereof. The onus of proof rests on the appellants to tender the terms and conditions of service; failure to do so had dire consequences for the appellants’ case as it is a vital issue. The court held that at the trial the appellants failed to discharge the onus of proving wrongful termination and how the respondents breached the terms of employment. The appeal was dismissed for lacking merit
This was an appeal against the decision of the High Court to decline jurisdiction to determine an issue of wrongful termination and compensation thereof.
The court interpreted the provisions of the Labour Act to differentiate the jurisdiction of the Commission from that of the High Court. The court applied the provisions of art 140 of the Constitution to the effect that the High Court has jurisdiction to enforce every right created by statute unless it is ousted in the Constitution. It was held that the previous court had the power to make the relevant award on the strength of the applicable law, terms of employment and evidence adduced before it. The fact that its jurisdiction is excluded in respect of other reliefs does not entitle the court to decline jurisdiction altogether. The court may hear the whole case but decline to grant the reliefs it is not competent to grant when it delivers its final judgment in the matter. Accordingly, the application was granted, the order of the High Court was set aside and an order was made for the High Court to assume its jurisdiction and determine the matter.
This was an action claiming monies allegedly siphoned from the plaintiff’s bank account with the participation and/or collusion of the defendant; and damages for the defendant’s breach of the fiduciary duty as branch manager. The defendant filed a counterclaim that his continued suspension and dismissal was unlawful.
The issues for consideration were whether the defendant caused financial loss to the plaintiff; whether the suspension and/or dismissal was lawful; and the available remedies.
Regarding the first issue, the court held that the suit rested on the allegation that the defendant kept 26 cheques. The court held that it was not proved that the defendant kept the cheques beyond the three days alleged by the plaintiff; however the court found that the defendant knew the cheques were kept beyond the three days. As a result, the defendant was jointly liable with a Mr Patrick Kigongo.
On the second issue, the court held that the plaintiff was entitled to suspend the defendant as he was charged with a criminal offence. Management may dismiss an employee who was facing criminal prosecution if their continued employment would prejudice the interests of the bank. However, the defendant was suspended without pay contrary to regulation 30 of the terms and conditions of service; and the termination was without notice of disciplinary action, without a right of defence, and was thus unlawful.
The plaintiff was awarded general damages. The defendant was awarded his full salary from the date of suspension until the date of termination.
The appellants had been dismissed from their employment by the respondent, the Institute of Social Work, following their alleged participation in an unprotected strike. The matter was heard by the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA), and then the High Court, to outcomes with which both parties were aggrieved. On appeal, the litigants lodged multiple grounds for consideration (the respondent cross-appealing), which the appellate court condensed into three main issues.
First, the respondents argued that the appeal by the second to twenty-first appellants was incompetent because they did not file a case before the CMA. The respondents argued that the appellants ought to have filed an application for a representative suit under order VIII rule 7 of the Civil Procedure Code. However, the court found that there are specific provisions under the labour laws which are instructive regarding labour disputes involving several employees. The court highlighted section 86(1) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act (ELR), as well as rules 5(2), 5(3) and 12(1) of the Mediation Rules and found that the appellants had acted in accordance therewith.
Secondly, that the appellants were not given clear charges for their misconduct and were denied an opportunity to be heard during the disciplinary proceedings was a clear violation of the constitutional principle of natural justice. The termination was therefore void and of no legal effect.
Lastly, because no fair or valid reason in terms of the labour law had been clearly stated to the employees for their termination, this meant that it was unfair under section 37(2) of the ELR, as well as contrary to rule 8(1)(c) and (d) of the ELR Code of Good Practice Rules.
The appeal was upheld with the court setting aside the decisions of the CMA and the High Court. The appellants were granted leave to institute proceedings against the respondent before the CMA de novo (afresh) so as to determine their rights. Each party was ordered to bear their own costs.
The respondent’s employment with the appellant was terminated following an e-mail he had sent to his immediate supervisor expressing indignation at the way the latter had reprimanded him in the workplace. A disciplinary committee found him guilty of misconduct and dishonesty which formed the basis of the dismissal.
The respondent challenged the decision at the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) where he sought reinstatement because he alleged that he was unfairly terminated and that the disciplinary proceedings were improperly conducted. The CMA found against him on both counts.
Successfully applying for revision before the High Court, the presiding judge ordered his reinstatement after finding that, although the disciplinary proceedings had been conducted in accordance the Employment and Labour Relations Code of Good Practice, the arbitrator had erred in arriving at a finding of insubordination. This was because the words used in the e-mail, given the circumstances of the case, were justifiable and thus not offensive. Moreover, the learned judge expressed a view about the authenticity of the e-mail.
These findings of the trial judge formed the basis of this appeal, which was upheld. The appellate court noted that the court below had raised two issues of its own volition, in coming to its decision, without affording the parties an opportunity to be heard thereon. Although judges are generally compelled to decide matters based on the issues on record, questions raised suo motu are permissible where they are placed on record so as to give the parties a chance to address them. The High Court’s failure to do so resulted in a procedural irregularity which consequently vitiated its ruling.
The appellate court therefore quashed and set aside the judgment of the court a quo before remitting the record thereto for determination by another judge.