The Supreme Court has refused to grant Standard Chartered Bank Zambia leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to award its former employee Celine Meena Nair 36 months gross salary as damages after establishing that she was constructively dismissed from employment.
The Court has further dismissed an application by the bank for stay of execution of the said judgment and further condemned it in costs, saying the bank has not satisfied any of the criteria set out in section 13(3)(a)(c) and (d) of the Court of Appeal Act.
In this matter, Nair had sued the bank in the High Court’s Industrial Relations Division, following her resignation on July 28, 2015 which she claimed was necessitated by acts and words of abuse she suffered over a period of time at the hands of the bank’s managing director and chief executive officer Andrew Okai.
In his judgment delivered on October 12, 2018, then High Court Industrial Relations Divisions judge Martin Musaluke, now Constitutional Court Judge, awarded Nair 36 months gross salaries as damages after finding that she had been constructively dismissed by the bank.
Being dissatisfied with the High Court judgment, Standard Chartered Bank Zambia appealed to the Court of Appeal and filed nine grounds.
However, in the judgment delivered in October last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the Lusaka High Court’s decision to award Nair, the former Standard Chartered Bank Zambia head of legal, compliance and company secretary, 36 months gross salary as damages.
Court of Appeal judges Justin Chashi, Judy Mulongoti and Florence Lengalenga upheld justice Musaluke’s decision saying he was on firm ground when he established that Nair was constructively dismissed from employment.
The bank then applied for leave of the court to appeal against its decision to uphold the High Court ‘s decision, but the same was declined.
It later appealed to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal and further applied for stay of execution of the said judgment.
But delivering her ruling on December 31, 2019, justice Roydah Kaoma said she was not persuaded that the bank had established any compelling reason for the appeal to be heard.
She said most of the intended grounds of appeal seek to attack findings of fact made by the trial court and do not seem to raise any point of law of public importance.
“The applicant must satisfy the court that the appeal has real prospects of success, which the applicant has not done. I do not see any point of law of public importance raised by the proposed appeal. I do not believe that the trial court and or the Court of Appeal went against the principle of stare decisis or that the two courts wrongly applied settled law,” justice Kaoma said.
She said there was nothing exceptional or compelling in the case that required determination by the Supreme Court.
“Therefore, the application for leave to appeal fails. The application for stay of execution of the judgment must inevitably meet the same fate as it was predicated on the substantive application, which has failed. I condemn the applicant in the costs of this failed application,” said justice Kaoma.