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  • 1961-04-21
  • GLR 210 - 211
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Master and servant?-Wrongful dismissal?-Quantum of damages.


By an agreement dated the 1st May, 1959, the plaintiff was employed as a building engineer by J. Conte Ltd., a company of building contractors. He assumed duties in September, 1959. On or about the 6th September, 1960, the first defendant, as managing director of the company, dismissed him. The plaintiff instituted the present action claiming G320 being arrears of salary for July and August 1960, and G500 damages for wrongful dismissal. At the time of the action J. Conte Ltd., had changed its name to Casfa Ltd., but nothing of any importance turned on this change of name.The defendants contended at the trial, contrary to their admission on the pleadings, that the plaintiff was not dismissed, but merely suspended for misconduct and for disobedience.


Action for damages for wrongful dismissal.

After stating the facts continued:] It was submitted for the defendants that they have not dismissed the plaintiff; that they merely suspended him, pending a checking of statement of accounts submitted by the plaintiff to the company out of which a quarrel arose.

In the first place the defendants are estopped by the averment in paragraph 9 of their statement of defence that they dismissed the plaintiff, from now denying that they dismissed him. Moreover, there is nothing in the service agreement, exhibit A which could be construed as giving the defendants power to suspend the plaintiff for any cause. The law is that in the absence of any express or implied term in a contract giving power to a master to suspend his servant from his employment for misconduct, the master is not entitled to punish the servant for alleged misconduct by suspending him from employment; if he suspends him he will be liable to pay to the servant all wages due to him for the duration of the suspension: see Volume 25 of Halsbury's Laws of England, (3rd ed.) page 518, paragraph 989 and Hanley v. Pease and Partners Ltd.1 Therefore even if this were a case of suspension the defendants will still be liable to the plaintiff.

The defendants did dismiss the plaintiff; there is no justification whatever for the dismissal, the evidence shows clearly that the dismissal is wrongful. The plaintiff is therefore entitled to damages. He is in law entitled as damages to the amount he has been prevented from earning by reason of the wrongful dismissal.2 The plaintiff was dismissed on or about the 6th of September, 1960. At that date he was owed arrears of salary for July and August, amounting to G320. He was out of employment from September to the 16th December, 1960. Consequently he lost his salary for three and a half months amounting to G560. But he claims only G500 damages for his wrongful dismissal, and so the court cannot award him more.


<P>Judgment for plaintiff.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

A.W. Acquaah for G.S. Lassey

Defendant / Respondent

E.K. Akyea-Djamson for K. Ofosu-Asante


Hanley v. Pease & Partners Ltd. [1915] 1 K.B.698

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