Unlawful Or Unfair Dismissal

David May v Busitema Mining CIE Ltd ((HCT-00-CV-CS-0086-2008)) [2009] UGHC 135 (26 June 2009);


Search Summary: 

The plaintiff’s claim was for U.S $120,902.89 (US dollars one hundred and twenty thousand, nine hundred and two, point eight nine cents) as outstanding remuneration due under the employment contract, interest thereon, general damages and costs of the suit.  It is the plaintiff’s case that he was employed by the defendant; that under the contract with the defendant company he was entitled to remuneration of US $7000 per month of which only US$4000 was paid to him per month for the duration of the contract, and, that a sum of US$120,902.89 is due and owing under that contract.  It is the plaintiff’s contention that the defendant was legally and contractually liable to pay the remuneration and is also liable for payment of the damages and costs of the suit.

Headnote and Holding: 

Court held that it is trite that a contract is a legally binding agreement.  An agreement arises as a result of offer and acceptance but a number of other requirements must be satisfied for an agreement to be legally binding.  For instance it must be legal and the agreement must not be rendered void either by some common law or statutory rule or by some inherent defect, such as operative mistake. In the instant case, the non-compliance with mandatory provisions of the law (section 14 of the Employment Act, Cap. 219) rendered the contract void.  If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity.  It cannot be enforced.  The reason for the law’s refusal to uphold such agreements is commonly encapsulated in the Latin maxim ex turpi causa non oritor actio (no claim arises from a base cause). It is immaterial that it has since been repealed as long as there is evidence that there was non-compliance with it as it lasted.  Accordingly the impugned contract is un enforceable on account of non-compliance with that law

Having found under issue No. 1 that there is no valid and enforceable contract of employment, it followed that the sum claimed was not due and owing from the defendant. 

Court dismissed the suit.



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