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Appeals Court orders reinstatement of dismissed Mico lecturer

Published:Monday | September 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Court of Appeal has ordered the Board of Directors of the Mico University College to reinstate  Alvin Lawson, a lecturer whose temporary  employment was terminated in July 2011.

In allowing  Lawson's appeal, the Court granted an order quashing the decisions of Professor Claude Packer, president of Mico  and the board which purported to terminate  his employment.

The court found that the respondents breached the Education Regulations  and ordered restitution of income or damages for loss of income and all other consequential losses flowing from the decision of the respondents.

The Supreme Court is to decide on the amounts owing to Lawson.

A declaration was granted by the court Monday that Lawson remains a temporary employee of the academic staff of Mico with approval for permanent appointment subject to confirmation from the Minister of Education with effect from September 1, 2010.

Lawson was given a one-year contract at Mico from January 5, 2009 to January 4, 2010 in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Education. 

When the contract ended he continued lecturing at Mico.

On December 7, 2009 and September 27, 2010 Lawson received what he described as letters of commendation from Mico  for his devotion to duty and in June 2011 his performance evaluation was graded as satisfactory.

The board wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education in March indicating that Lawson and several other persons from the academic staff were approved for permanent employment with effect  from Apri1, 2010. 

The letter signed  by Professor Packer as president of Mico and R Karl James as chairman of the board, sought the approval from the ministry for the appointments.

In July 2010, Mico wrote to Lawson indicating that his permanent employment as lecturer had been approved with effect from September 1, 2010, pending ratification from the ministry. 

There was no further communication in respect to Lawson's situation for almost a year and he continued to perform his duties at Mico.

But on June 6, 2011 Lawson received a letter from Professor Packer informing him that his temporary employment would not be extended beyond August 31, 2011.

After discussions between Lawson and the ministry failed, the lecturer  took the issue to the Judicial Review Court.

Lawson sought to have the decision quashed and sought several declarations.

The court dismissed the motion and Lawson appealed.

But the Appeals Court on Monday overturned the ruling of the Judicial Review Court.

"The employment and termination of teachers are governed by a statutory scheme which must be complied with and when there is a failure to do so certiorari (an order to quash) must lie. In this case, as indicated, the board attempted to terminate the appellant's  employment by giving him one month's notice which was in breach of the Education Regulations and therefore ultra vires (of no legal effect). The decision to do that was therefore unlawful and would have to be quashed," the Appeals Court said.

The respondents who were Professor Packer and the board were ordered to pay Lawson's legal costs.

Lawson was represented by attorneys Georgia Hamilton and Hadiran Christie while Garth McBean QC represented the respondents.