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6th Jul 2006
The appellant teacher (M) appealed against a decision of the respondent Commission not to appoint him to the post of Vice-Principal of the second respondent college.
M had been a Teacher II for many years and when the position of Vice- Principal became vacant M had expected to be given the appointment by virtue of his seniority. However, another Teacher II who was above M in the seniority list had been appointed. M sought judicial review of the Commission’s decision as he believed there had been an error in the entry of the date of his appointment as a Teacher II on the seniority list. The evidence on which M sought to rely was contained in a letter from the Commission in 1980 confirming his appointment at the end of his probationary period and the subsequent publication of that date in the Gazette. The Commission’s original letter of appointment in 1979 had contained a different date. The Commission maintained that the error lay in the 1980 letter and the Gazette entry and not in the seniority list. The trial judge and the Court of Appeal found that the decision had been taken in error to give M, in the 1980 letter, a seniority date ahead of persons who had originally been appointed before him.
M invited the court to conduct a fresh review of the evidence and stressed the unfairness of the situation in which he found himself.
There was no doubt that M genuinely believed that he was entitled to seniority from the earlier date and that he ought to have been promoted to the vacancy in the post of Vice-Principal. However, M’s case was not supported by the evidence. There were concurrent findings of the courts below that the date stated in the 1980 letter as the date with effect from which M had been appointed to the post of Teacher II was an error, and there was no flaw in those findings.
The Teaching Service Commission of Trinidad and Tobago had made an error in a letter confirming the date of a teacher’s appointment and as a result the teacher did not have the seniority that he had believed he had.
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