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Case details

National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd (Appellant) v NCB Staff Association (Respondent) (Jamaica)

Case ID: JCPC 2022/0027

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of Jamaica

Case summary

Issue

What is the correct interpretation and application of a formula relating to participation in a profit-sharing scheme. Whether the trial Judge was correct in his award of interest for a period that was longer than originally claimed for by the Respondent in the Fixed Date Claim Form.

Whether the Appellant acted in bad faith in declaring that the profit-sharing scheme was not triggered.

Facts

In December 1980, the Appellant, implemented a profit-sharing scheme ("PSS") with its staff members (represented by the Respondent), which was subsequently incorporated into their employment contracts. The terms of the PSS were reflected in a staff circular (the "Circular"), which provided that "the maximum annual amount to be distributed shall be 6% of the consolidated profits before tax, as agreed by the Auditors before making allowance for the payments under the Schemeā€¦as shown in the audited accounts of the immediately preceding year". On 23 December 2002, the Appellant informed the Respondent that based on computation done by its external auditors, no profit-sharing was payable for the year ended 30 September 2002. A sum attributable to minority interests had been deducted from the "consolidated profits before tax" amount for the year 2002. But for the deduction, the threshold set out in the Circular for triggering the PSS would have been met.

The Supreme Court Judge granted declarations that the PSS formed part of the employees' contracts of employment, the deduction was not in keeping with the terms of the Circular and that a profit-sharing payment was due for year ending 30 September 2002. The judge awarded simple interest from 1 October 2002 to the date of payment.

The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, contending, inter alia, that the Judge wrongly interpreted the Circular and the meaning of the term "consolidated profit before tax". The Appellant did not challenge the Judge's finding that the PSS had been incorporated into the employment contracts. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Parties

Appellant

National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd

Respondent

National Commercial Bank Staff Association

Appeal

Justices

Lord Hodge, Lord Stephens, Lady Rose

Hearing start date

12 December 2023

Hearing finish date

12 December 2023