Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Privy Council dismisses Antigua and Barbuda gov't's appeal against former civil servant

Published:Tuesday | May 15, 2018 | 9:35 AM
Privy Council - CMC photo

LONDON, May 15, CMC – The London-based Privy Council has dismissed an appeal by the Antigua and Barbuda government that sought to prevent the former executive secretary of the Board of Education Gisele Isaac from taking legal action against the Minister of Education and the Cabinet.

In a ruling, the Privy Council, the island’s highest court, noted that “the declarations that Ms Isaac seeks relate to the legalities of past actions".

“By the time she issued her fixed date claim, on 11 September 2014, she had taken the view that her employment was over, and was proceeding on the basis that she had been constructively dismissed,” the Law Lords ruled.

In 2000, Isaac was appointed to be the executive secretary of the Board of Education, which is a statutory body established by the Board of Education Act 1994.

Her appointment was by Cabinet and took effect from 1 February 2001.

But by letter dated July, 18 2014 from the Secretary of Cabinet, she was informed that she was suspended from her position for 28 days.

Isaac returned to her office on August 18, 2014 and found the locks changed and she was denied entry, apparently on the basis that the suspension was not yet at an end because it was to last for 28 working days.

The Board of Education issued a press notice that day about the suspension. Isaac considered herself to have been constructively dismissed and had her lawyers write to the Chairperson of the Board of Education to say so.

She declined to meet with Cabinet to discuss the matter and on September 11, 2014, she filed a fixed date claim form and supporting affidavit, the respondents to the claim being the Attorney General, as the nominal representative of Cabinet, and the Minister of Education, whose portfolio includes the Board of Education.

Through her claim, Isaac sought various declarations, plus damages for diminution of reputation, and also, against the Minister, aggravated or exemplary damages.

The Privy Council noted that the broad nature of the case upon which Isaac based her claim can be gathered from her supporting affidavit, both in its original form and as amended.

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