Kamoto v Chairperson of the Industrail Relations Court (IRC 19 of 2006 ) ( of ) [2006] MWIRC 1 (01 January 2006);

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF MALAWI


PRINCIPAL REGISTRY


CIVIL CAUSE NO. 19 OF 2006


BETWEEN

KAMOTO ……………………………………………………….. APPLICANT


-and-


THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT …………………………. RESPONDENT

CORAM: THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE POTANI
Mpaka, Counsel for the plaintiff
Mchacha, Court Clerk




RULING


The applicant, Willy Kamoto, comes before this court through the machinery of Order 53 of Rules of the Supreme Court which caters for judicial review by the High Court of administrative action including decisions of inferior tribunal. The judicial review the applicant seeks relates to the manner in which the respondent, the Chairperson of the Industrial relations Court (IRC), handled a matter the applicant commenced before that court against his former employers, Limbe Leaf tobacco Company Limited. More specifically the applicant is disgruntled by the respondent’s decision to dismiss his action in its entirety on the ground that he was fairly dismissed by his employers on the basis of the analysis of the evidence by the Registrar of the court. The reliefs sought by the applicant on his complaint are like to certiorari quashing the decision of the respondent in relation to the dismissal of the action, damages and a like order to mandamus requiring the respondent to rehear his case giving due regard to all the relevant facts or in the alternative a direction that the applicant’s case be re-heard at any such forum as the court shall deem just and proper. Further the applicant prays for all necessary and consequential orders and costs.


The applicant’s application is supported by his affidavit. There is no affidavit filed by or on behalf of the respondent. To that extent, the facts of the matter can safely be said to be not in dispute. Not only has the respondent not filed any affidavit in the matter but there was also no appearance on its part at the hearing of the matter. Upon being satisfied that due service of the notice the hearing was affected the court proceeded to hear the applicant’s case in the absence of the respondents.


The relevant facts of the matter are briefly that after the applicant commenced an action in the Industrial Relations Court against his former employer, Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited, he was called to a pre-hearing conference presided over by the Registrar of the court but the hearing did not bear any fruits. The matter was then set down for a special hearing. Come the hearing day, the respondent declined to hear the matter, instead it was referred back to the Registrar who eventually made an analysis of the facts and found that the applicant had no case against his employers. The Chairperson then simply adopted the findings of the Registrar as the judgment of the court.


The gist of the applicant’s case is that by allowing the Registrar to attend to a special hearing, the respondent acted unlawfully in that the Registrar was made to do something which was unlawful. In that regard reference has been made to section 66 of the Labour Relations Act which sets out the composition of the Industrial /relations Court which composition clearly does not include the Registrar. Further, it is the submission of the applicant, through counsel, that under the Industrial Relations Court (Procedure) Rules, the Registrar can only preside over a pre-hearing conference and not a special hearing. In short therefore, the plaintiff’s case is that the decision of the Industrial Relations Court can not stand as it is based on a hearing and analysis of evidence