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The Court of Appeal (Inferior) confirmed the sum of ninety thousand, three hundred and seventy-four euro and forty-three cents (€90,374.43) granted by the Industrial Tribunal following a finding of unfair dismissal in the case of Publius Davison vs De La Rue Currency and Security Print Limited (Appeal nr 160/2018, decided on the 11th of October 2019).

The case was filed by Publius Davison (hereinafter referred to as ‘the applicant’) on the 2nd of July 2008 after he had been dismissed from his employment on the 19th of June 2008.

The applicant was a security guard with a salary of thirty thousand, two hundred and eighty-one euro and eighty-five cents (€30,281.85) per year who had been employed with the company for thirty-two (32) years. The applicant had noted that one of his power plugs at home had broken and he chose to bring the broken power plug to his place of work where he stored it in his locker so that he may fix it when he had time. The power plug remained in his locker for a number of days due to other work obligations. One day the applicant grabbed a stock of glue that was found on one of the company’s factory machines and placed it in his pocket to fix the broken power plug after work. The stock of glue was easily visible, and the applicant was approached by one of the company’s officials who accused him of taking it. The applicant immediately returned the stock of glue and explained that he was merely borrowing it to fix a broken power plug which he had placed in his locker.

The company operated a high security facility which was also involved in the printing of money and, according to its protocols, required the permission of a supervisor prior to any object being removed from any room within the facility. An investigation was conducted wherein the applicant’s locker was forcibly opened and the power plug was found in the locker.

The applicant had his employment terminated after this incident and instituted proceedings in front of the Industrial Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

On the 4th of June 2012 the Industrial Tribunal rejected the applicant’s claims and considered that the dismissal was justified (Decision nr 2155 of 2012).

The Court of Appeal (Inferior) reversed the judgment of the Industrial Tribunal considering the following: (1) the applicant had been employed with the company for thirty two (32) years, (2) he was a loyal employee and did not have any disciplinary problems in the past, (3) he was trusted by the employer with considerable amounts of money, (4) this was not a case of theft, (5) the low value of the object (€46), (6) the reason for which the applicant wanted to use the glue, (7) lack of bad faith. On the basis of the aforementioned points the Court of Appeal considered that the dismissal was not a proportionate measure in the circumstances (Appeal nr 26/2012). The Court of Appeal referred the matter back to the Industrial Tribunal for compensation to be awarded.

On the 15th of December 2016 the Industrial Tribunal awarded the sum of €18,000 as compensation (Decision nr 2454 of 2016). The applicant appealed stating that the Industrial Tribunal had not provided any reasoning for the compensation awarded and that this compensation did not reflect the actual damages suffered by the applicant who claimed damages exceeding ninety thousand euro (€90,000). The Court of Appeal agreed stating that the applicant had the right to receive compensation that reflected the damage actually suffered, including loss of earnings, as a consequence of the bad decision taken by the employer (Appeal nr 40/2016).

On the 20th of November 2018 the Industrial Tribunal awarded the sum of €90,374.43 as compensation (Decision nr 2562 of 2018). The compensation of €90,374.43 was based on the following facts:

i. The employee was dismissed on the 19th of June 2008 and managed to find another job on the 14th of July 2008. The salary for three weeks of employment was approximately one thousand, seven hundred and forty-seven euro and three cents (€1,747.03).

ii. The new job paid a salary of twelve thousand euro (€12,000) which was eighteen thousand two hundred and eighty-one euro and eighty-five cents (€18,281.85) less per year than his previous employment. The applicant was sixty-one (61) years of age when he was dismissed and retired after four (4) years. The difference in pay for a four (4) year period amounted to seventy-three thousand one hundred and twenty-seven euro and forty cents (€73,127.40).

iii. Had the applicant not been dismissed he would have qualified for a benefit ranging between thirteen thousand nine hundred and seventy-six euro and twenty-four cents (€13,976.24) and sixteen thousand three hundred and five euro and sixty-one cents (€16,305.61).

The employer filed an appeal contesting the lack of considerations made by the Industrial Tribunal in its deliberations, however the Court of Appeal confirmed the sum liquidated by the Industrial Tribunal stating further that it could not be considered that the sum of ninety thousand, three hundred and seventy-four euro and forty three cents (€90,374.43) was disproportionate or unreasonable in the circumstances as it reflected damages actually suffered by the applicant.

This document does not purport to give legal, financial or tax advice. Should you require further information or legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Christine Calleja or Dr. Kirk Brincau.