Case details

University of Technology, Jamaica (Appellant) v Industrial Disputes Tribunal and others (Respondents)

Case ID: JCPC 2013/0106

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of Jamaica

Case summary

  1. Whether the Industrial Disputes Tribunal ("IDT") may have regard to matters of which the employer was unaware at the time of the dismissal and which could not form part of the reasons for dismissal.
  2. Whether, in cases of dismissal for misconduct, the IDT’s role is to determine whether the misconduct occurred or whether the employer had a justifiable basis for believing that it had.
  3. What is the correct standard of proof to be used by the IDT in disputes over dismissals for misconduct?
  4. Whether the IDT may substitute its discretion for that of the employer.

Miss Carlene Spencer was employed by the appellant university from October 2004. Miss Spencer filled in an application form to take a leave of absence, but neither signed it nor submitted it to her supervisor for approval. She was subsequently absent from work, and her supervisor located the form, signed it, and delivered it to the Human Resource Management Department. The appellant was unable to make contact with Miss Spencer for the entirety of her absence; an investigation took place, following which she was charged with an unauthorised absence of 34 days. An internal disciplinary hearing took place on 3 April 2007. It concluded that Miss Spencer’s leave had not been authorised, and her supervisor’s signature did not constitute retroactive approval. The internal tribunal dismissed Miss Spencer.

The second respondent initiated proceedings in relation to Miss Spencer’s dismissal, which was referred to the first respondent (the IDT). In the course of the hearing the IDT refused to order Miss Spencer to produce her passport. The IDT found that Miss Spencer had been unjustifiably dismissed and ordered her restatement.

The appellant applied for judicial review of the IDT’s decision. It obtained an order for the production of her passport, which showed that she left Jamaica before she had initially proposed to take leave; and that she did not see a local doctor, as she had testified before the IDT. The judicial review judge quashed the IDT’s award. The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the judge and reinstated the IDT award.



University of Technology, Jamaica

  1. Industrial Disputes Tribunal and others
  2. University and Allied Workers Union

Jamaica Employers Federation



Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed

Hearing start date

24 Jan 2017

Hearing finish date

24 Jan 2017

Watch hearing
24 Jan 2017 Morning session