4th Jul 2024 | News

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On 4 July 2024, the Privy Council handed down its decision in Ervin Dean v Bahamas Power & Light [2024] UKPC 20. The Board unanimously dismissed Mr Dean’s appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

This appeal concerned two issues. The first concerned the adequacy and correctness of the Court of Appeal’s award of damages made to Mr Dean for wrongful dismissal without contractual notice or an appropriate contractual payment in lieu. The second was whether there was an additional cause of action available to employees in Mr Dean’s position that depends on being dismissed in breach of an asserted contractual right not to have one’s employment terminated “unjustly”.

Lady Simler gave the decision of the Board, dismissing both aspects of Mr Dean’s appeal. On the first issue, the Board concluded that the Court of Appeal had been right to interfere with the trial judge’s award of damages for wrongful dismissal on the bases that (i) there was no admissible evidence of any custom or practice that might justify the level of award made at first instance; and (ii) there was nothing in the Industrial Agreement between the Respondent and its workforce (which reflected the terms of Mr Dean’s contract of employment) to support it. The Board upheld the Court of Appeal’s substituted assessment of damages for wrongful dismissal. On the second issue, the Board concluded that Mr Dean’s express contractual right not to have his employment terminated “unjustly” did not give rise to a separate cause of action of a different qualitative status to either a claim for statutory unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal, and it did not import separate procedural or substantive rights that might justify the trial judge’s award of damages.

Katharine Bailey appeared as junior counsel for the successful Respondent, led by Dywan A.G.R. Rodgers of Meridian Law Chambers, The Bahamas.


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