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Review $113m BOJ claim with ‘barrel of salt’ – lawyer

Published:Friday | December 13, 2019 | 12:36 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
The Bank of Jamaica in downtown Kingston.
The Bank of Jamaica in downtown Kingston.

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) yesterday submitted before a panel of three retired justices at the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) that former head of Strategic Planning and Project Management Centre, Karim Kiffin, should not receive more than a lump sum payment of $11 million if an award is to be made for unfair dismissal.

Arguments by the central bank were led by attorney-at-law Patrick Foster, QC.

However, trade unionist Lambert Brown and attorneys-at-law Natalia Casado Desulme and Ronald Young, of the law firm Young Law, are insisting that their client, whose contract was terminated after six months at the bank in 2018, should be compensated to the tune of $113 million for outstanding sums remaining on his five-year contract.

Both sides presented a plethora of legal arguments bolstering their sharply conflicting views as to why Kiffin, who was dismissed by the bank without cause, should receive the full gamut of benefits and salary under his contract on the one hand and that he should not be so generously awarded on the other.

After 12 sittings at the IDT, Foster presented closing arguments yesterday, indicating that a “reasonable award for compensation in all the circumstances would be two years basic salary and vacation leave, which would have (been) earned over the said two-year period”.

Perceived guilt

However, Brown was at pains to remove any perceived “guilt” from the minds of the panellists as they prepare to pore over voluminous submissions.

“It is the bank, not the tribunal, that voluntarily and knowingly entered into this agreement. It is also the bank that voluntarily and knowingly prematurely terminated Mr Kiffin’s contract, contrary to law,” Brown declared in his closing arguments.

He charged that the central bank must be made to honour its agreement.

Brown told the panel of retired justices that despite seeking jobs that he was qualified for, the manner of Kiffin’s dismissal, without following established procedure, has left him handicapped in the job market.

He said that despite Kiffin’s qualifications and efforts to seek jobs locally and abroad, he remains unemployed to date.

Foster urged the IDT panel not to be constrained by any one method of arriving at a compensation package, reminding them that they had discretion based on previous rulings by the tribunal.

Brown had reeled off a list of about 12 benefits for which he contended that Kiffin was entitled to receive compensation under his five-year contract. He also cited home and car loans, as well as day-care allowances, as part of his client’s compensation package that he did not receive owing to the premature termination of his contract.

According to Brown, the bank’s Accounting Services Director, Joy Hermitt, while being cross-examined at the eighth sitting of the tribunal, confirmed that Kiffin was entitled to both home and car loans.

“It is excessive and grossly exaggerated,” Foster said of many of the claims as he urged the panel of IDT justices to review them with “a barrel of salt”.