Enterprise J. Tonazzi V. Bruno Brunetti (1953)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Appeals in Civil Cases—Findings of fact—Inadequate consideration of the evidence.
Contract—Master and Servant—Summary dismissal for neglect and insubordination.
The plaintiff, a carpenter, obtained judgment for damages for wrongful dismissal. The trial Judge found that the real dispute was the unjustified failure of the defendants to pay him moneys due as payment for overtime, and that the ill-feeling had become worse after an allegation by the plaintiff that he had been accused of sabotaging machines and his suggestion that they should be tested, which not being done, he stopped work on them, with the upshot that he was wrongfully dismissed.
The evidence showed that the defendants, his employers, had asked the plaintiff to keep an account of his overtime work, which he submitted late, after receiving an advance; and it was conceded by his counsel in the appeal that the dispute was not over money, but argued for him that it was because he had been accused of sabotage.
This reason rested on the plaintiff’s allegation alone. There were letters of his, besides parts of his evidence, showing that he had put forward a demand for extra payment for working on the machines and, when refused, stopped working on them, though- this was part of his duties; that he was warned by his employers and thereafter dismissed on account of his refusal.
The defendants complained on appeal against the judgment for the plaintiff and also against the dismissal of their counterclaim for damages as arising from his refusal to work from a certain date (but they had failed to establish that they were entitled to damages as so arising).
(1) The judgment was not based upon the whole evidence, nor were all the facts and circumstances taken into consideration; therefore the Court of Appeal had the duty to arrive at its own conclusion on the evidence.
(2) The evidence showed that the plaintiff had been neglectful and insubordinate in refusing to work on the machines, and he was therefore rightly dismissed summarily.
(3) The defendants not having established that they were entitled to any damages as arising from the plaintiff’s refusal to work from a certain date, their counterclaim was rightly dismissed.
Appeal allowed In part: the Judgment on the plaintiff’s claim set aside.