Court Grants Civil Servant 42 months salary- Dickson Jere


Court Grants Civil Servant 42 months salary
By Dickson Jere

A Ministry of Finance Accountant was implicated in the theft of K24,640 – funds meant for poverty reduction program – in Copperbelt. At the same, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) instituted investigations into the theft, which meant that the Accountant could not appear before the Disciplinary Committee when there were criminal investigations against him. That is the procedure in government.

However, the Accountant was then fired in 2009 even though DEC later cleared him and turned him into state witness against the culprits. Despite that, government refused to reinstate him.

He appealed to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which only decided to hear his case almost 8 years later instead of the mandatory 30 days. PSC confirmed his dismissal in 2016.

Unhappy with way he was treated, he filed the case in the High Court against Attorney-General, arguing that he was wrongfully dismissed. The government did not appear in court and trial took off after several adjournments.

The High Court Judge awarded him 36 months salaries as compensation for wrongful dismissal. He was not happy with the 36 months because it was too low and could not compensate or mitigate his suffering.

He lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal.
The three-man panel of Judges analyzed the evidence and concluded that the damages given were indeed very low given the circumstances.

“We enhance the award of 36 months salaries and perquisites to 42 months salaries and perquisites as damages for wrongful dismissal, taking into account the oppressive treatment the appellant was subjected to,” the Judges said in unanimous opinion.

“We also order that he be reimbursed the withheld salaries and the surcharged amount if all it was effected with interest,” the Court, adding that it was difficult in Zambia to find jobs due to high unemployment rate.

The panel said it believed the dismissal caused him mental distress especially when DEC cleared him but government still refused to reinstate him in the position.

“Moreover, it would be very difficult for him to find similar job in this economy where there is much unemployment even for university graduates,” the Court held.

Case citation – David Banda v Attorney General (Appeal No 233/2020) delivered last month in the Court of Appeal by panel of Justices, Makungu, Sichinga, SC and Siavwapa.

This summary is not legal opinion but a contribution to the intellectual and scholarly discourse on issues of damages in employment cases. Kindly seek legal advice from your lawyer.

As can be seen, the Courts have awarded 3 months, 6, months, 12, month, 36 months and now 42 months in cases of wrongful dismissal. It all depends on the circumstances of each case.


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