Mohamed Ali V. L. Ambrosini Ltd (1941)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Contract of employment—Admissibility of document—Termination of employment.
In a claim for the difference between salary alleged to be due and the amount actually paid the trial Judge admitted a copy of an agreement with one Auerbacher which appeared to be unsigned, undated and unstamped, the original of which the defendants-appellants were unable to produce: the agreement was stated by the plaintiff-respondent to have been made by the other party on behalf of the defendants. There was other evidence of a letter from the firm authorising the plaintiff to draw his salary at a certain rate.
Held : That the document should not have been admitted in evidence and even if admissible it was of no evidential value and that the trial Judge misdirected himself in holding that there was nothing to show that there had been any termination of employment.
Cameron for Appellants.
No appearance of Respondent.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
BUTLER LLOYD, ACTING C.J., NIGERIA, BAKER AND JEFFREYS, JJ.
In this case the learned trial Judge gave judgment for the plaintiff for £116 Os Od representing the difference between his salary between February, 1938, and October, 1940, and the amount actually paid. In doing so he relied on a copy of an unsigned, undated and unstamped document by which the plaintiff agreed to enter the service of one Auerbacher at Kano at 80 rupees a month plus 20s a week food allowance. In our opinion this docitment should not have been admitted in evidence and even if admissible it was of no evidential value in support of the plaintiff’s claim.
There was however evidence that in July, 1937, plaintiff was authorised by the defendants to draw salary at the rate of £12 a month from cash at his station Gaidam but in February, 1938, the defendants informed him that this would be reduced to £10 as his purchases had not increased and it is clear both from exhibits put in by the plaintiff himself and from his particulars of claim that
the plaintiff accepted this reduction. There was also evidence that plaintiff was on leave during September and October, 1939, and that on his return to work his salary was further reduced to £8 and from July, 1940, again reduced to £6 a month.
We think that the learned trial Judge misdirected himself in saying ” there is nothing to show that there was any termination of employment or any question of re-engagement at a lower salary.”
We think that he further misdirected himself in referring to the various reductions of salary as arbitrary deductions in respect shortages incurred through plaintiff’s negligence.
The appeal must be allowed and judgment entered for the defendants-appellants.
We assess costs at thirty guineas.
The amount in Court to be paid out to the appellants