Court name
High Court of Uganda
Case number
Civil Suit-2002/72
Judgment date
5 September 2008

Ms Christine Saano v Action Aid Ug (Civil Suit-2002/72) [2008] UGHC 100 (05 September 2008);

Cite this case
[2008] UGHC 100

THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA
AT GULU
HCT-02- CV- CS – 0072 – 2002

MS. CHRISTINE SAANO<<<<<<<<<<<<<<PLAINTIFF
VERSUS
ACTION AID – UGANDA<<<<<<<<<<<<<<DEFENDANT

BEFORE: HON. JUSTICE REMMY KASULE

JUDGMENT

                  The plaintiff sued the defendant for a declaration that her dismissal was wrongful, general damages for breach of contract and special damages.
                  A contractual relationship existed at the material times between the plaintiff and defendant.
                  From 02.05.1998 the defendant employed the plaintiff as an administrative assistant based in Masindi on a two (2) years written contract, which was renewed for another two (2) years on 02.05.2000.
                  On 01.02.2001 plaintiff was transferred by defendant to Kumi as a Programme Officer; and from Kumi, she was transferred to the Regional office, Apac, on 25.07.2001. Plaintiff’s contract was then effective 01.12.2001 extended for four (4) years, following a general restructuring of the defendant and her salary was increased. On 19.02.2002, defendant terminated plaintiff’s contract of employment upon two months notice to terminate being given to her. Contending that the termination was unlawful, plaintiff sued the defendant in this suit.
                  At the scheduling conference two issues were framed for resolution by the court:-
1.       Whether the termination of the plaintiff’s employment contract was wrongful/unlawful
2.       What remedies are available to the parties
As to the first issue, plaintiff testified that the termination of her contract of employment was unlawful because it was done contrary to the provisions of the Human Resource Manual: exhibit P8. It is this manual that governed the employment relationship between the plaintiff as employee, and the defendant, as employer.
                  Plaintiff contended in her testimony and her counsel also so submitted, that her contract, pursuant to the Human Resource Manual could only be rightfully terminated only in respect of stated instances. These were, each or a combination of: termination pursuant to the disciplinary procedures under section 6 of the Manual, a certification by a medical practitioner that plaintiff was permanently unable to work, being imprisoned or convicted of an offence and the expiry of employment contract. Plaintiff’s contract had not been terminated pursuant to any or a combination of the above grounds.
                  Plaintiff had, instead, had her employment contract terminated on the ground that there was a shortfall in the defendant’s income in the Country programme which necessitated reduction of staff. Plaintiff was the staff reduced.
                  As to the Human Resources policy, November, 2001, exhibit D1, which according to witnesses, who testified, was the basis upon which the plaintiff’s employment contract was restructured and thus terminated, plaintiff denied ever having been served with a copy of the same.
                  According to plaintiff therefore, the termination of her contract of employment was unlawful because it was based on the wrong reasons.
                  The termination of her contract of employment was also wrong because, immediately before the termination, the defendant had placed an advertisement on 08.02.2002 for a vacancy of the plaintiff’s job, subsequent of which the defendant recruited another person for the same job with similar assignments, remuneration and on employment terms and conditions of service similar to those employed by the plaintiff.
                  The defendant adduced evidence through DW1 Zaituna Fumbia, the communications officer, and DW2 Andrew Hyeroba, a human resource consultant, who was part of the consulting team that recommended organizational changes in the structures of the defendant contained in the defendant’s Human Resources policy November 2001: exhibit D1.
                  The evidence of defendant’s two witnesses is that defendant acted within the terms of the employment contract to terminate the employment of the plaintiff. The reason for termination was because of a shortfall in income of the defendant that resulted in reduction of staff. Plaintiff happened to be the staff reduced.
                  The position of the law is that where any contract of employment stipulates that a party may terminate it by giving notice of a specified period, such a contract can be terminated by giving the stipulated notice for the period. The right of the employer to terminate the contract of service whether by giving notice or incurring the penalty of paying compensation in lieu of notice for the duration stipulated or implied by the contract cannot be fettered by the courts: see: Supreme Court of Uganda Civil Appeal No. 1 of 1998: Barclays Bank of Uganda vs Godfrey Mubiru;
and also
LEE V ARTHUR GREAVES (1974) 1 C.R. 501, and REX STEWART JEFFRIES PARKER GINSBERG LTD V PARKER 1. R. L.R. 483.
The evidence adduced and also borne out by exhibits P1, P3 P4, and P8 clearly establish that, according to the scale of employment the plaintiff held, her employment was terminable on being given two months notice or two months salary and allowances equivalent in lieu of notice. See paragraph1.1.2 of the AA U HR Manual: exhibit P8: paragraph 5 of exhibit P1, paragraph 2 of exhibit P3 and paragraph 3 of exhibit P4. Exhibit D1, which the plaintiff denied ever receiving, but which defendant contended plaintiff received; and/or ought to have been aware of the same, does not provide to the contrary with regard to the fact that plaintiff’s contract was terminable on issuance of a two months notice or payment in lieu of notice.
                  The plaintiff in her evidence admitted that her employment contract was terminated after two (2) months notice had been given to her. She received the defendant’s notice of termination on 19.02.2002. Her termination was effective from 20.04.2002. She also admitted she was paid for the two (2) months of the notice period that she worked.
                  The contention of the plaintiff that her employment contract could only be rightfully terminated in respect of instances of first being subjected to a disciplinary procedure set out in section 6 of the Manual: exhibit P8, a certification of the plaintiff being unable to work by a medical practitioner, her being imprisoned or convicted of an offence and/or at the expiry of the employment contract, is not right, given the wording of the terms of the contract in exhibits P1, P3, P4 and P8.
                  Exhibit P1 in paragraph 5 provides:-
“ ......................either party may give a two (2) month’s notice of termination(or two (2) month’s salary and allowance equivalent in lieu of notice) as set out in the standard policies and procedures”
Exhibit P3 states in paragraph 3:
“ I would like to emphasize that during this contract, either party may give a two month notice of termination or two month’s salary and allowance equivalent as set out in the Human Resource Manual”
Exhibit P4 reiterates that the plaintiff’s relocation by reason of transfer to Regional office, Apac, will be
“ under the same terms and conditions as in your present job........................”
Paragraph 1.1.2 of the AAU HR Manual, exhibit P8, is to the effect that:-                
“ Within each contract, there will be a notice of termination of contract for each side.
Grade E – F posts: Two months notice or two months salary and allowances equivalent in lieu of notice..................................................................
...........................................................................
Action Aid reserves the right to revoke these conditions on the basis of:
•         Προϖισιονσωιτηινδισχιπλιναρψπροχεδυρεσ
•         Τηεσταφφμεμβερσηασβεενχερτιφιεδπερμανεντλψυναβλετοωορκβψαμεδιχαλπραχτιτιονερσεεανδαππενδιξ
•         Ιμπρισονμεντορχονϖιχτιονοφανοφφενχε
•         Εξπιρψοφχοντραχτ
Τηισχουρτφινδσνοτηινγιντηεαβοϖεθυοτατιονστηατπροϖιδεδφορτηετερμσοφνοτιχετοτερμινατειντηεχοντραχτοφεμπλοψμεντβετωεεντηεπλαιντιφφανδδεφενδανττοτηεεφφεχττηατνοτιχετοτερμινατεσηαλλονλψβερεσορτεδτοβψτηεεμπλοψερονλψινρεσπεχτοφχερταινινστανχεσηαππενινγ
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                  Τηεδεφενδαντ’σεϖιδενχεοντηεποιντιστηαττηεπλαιντιφφ’σποστωασαττηεΡεγιοναλλεϖελωηιλετηεαδϖερτισεμεντωασφοραποσταττηελοχαλλεϖελινΑπαχΤηετωοποστσωερεαχχορδινγτοτηεδεφενδαντδιφφερεντ
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                  ΤηισχουρτνοτεστηαττηεδεφενδαντηαδτηεαλτερνατιϖεοπτιονοφρενδερινγτηεπλαιντιφφρεδυνδαντπυρσυανττοΠαραγραπηοφτηεΗυμανΡεσουρχεσΠολιχψΜανυαλΝοϖεμβερεξηιβιτΔΙντηεχονσιδερεδϖιεωοφτηισχουρττηεεξιστενχεοφτηισοπτιονδιδνοτινανψωαψφεττερτηεποωερσοφτηεδεφενδανττοτερμινατετηεπλαιντιφφ’σχοντραχτοφεμπλοψμεντβψγιϖινγτηερεθυισιτετωομοντησωριττεννοτιχεαχλεαρτερμιντηεεμπλοψμεντχοντραχταγρεεδυπονβψβοτηπλαιντιφφανδδεφενδαντ
                  ΑτανψρατεασαττηετιμεοφηεαρινγοφτηεχασετηεπλαιντιφφηαδαλρεαδψχομπρομισεδηερριγηττομακεανψχλαιμβψρεασονοφβεινγρενδερεδρεδυνδαντινηερεμπλοψμεντσινχεαχχορδινγτοηερτεστιμονψασωελλασεξηιβιτΠσηεινΑυγυσταγρεεδανδδιδρεχειϖεφρομτηεδεφενδανταρεδυνδανχψπαχκαγειναχχορδανχεωιτηπαραγραπηοφτηεΗυμανΡεσουρχεσΠολιχψΜανυαλΝοϖεμβερεξηιβιτΔ
                  Τηερεφορετηισχουρτηολδσαστηεανσωερτοτηεφιρστισσυετηαττηετερμινατιονοφτηεπλαιντιφφ’σεμπλοψμεντχοντραχτωασνοτωρονγφυλανδορυνλαωφυλΤηετερμινατιονωασλαωφυλλψδονεβψτηεδεφενδαντιναχχορδανχεωιτητηετερμσοφτηεεμπλοψμεντχοντραχτεξεχυτεδβετωεεντηεπλαιντιφφανδτηεδεφενδαντ
                  Αστοωηατρεμεδιεσαρεαϖαιλαβλετοτηεπαρτιεστηεπλαιντιφφηαϖινγνοτβεενσυχχεσσφυλοντηεφιρστισσυεισνοτεντιτλεδτοτηεδεχλαρατιονανδτηεδαμαγεσσηεπραψσφοριντηεπλαιντσινχεονφαιλινγτοπροϖεβρεαχηοφτηεχοντραχτοφεμπλοψμεντοντηεπαρτοφτηεεμπλοψερτηερεισνοεντιτλεμενττοτηεδεχλαρατιονανδτηερεισαλσονοδυτψοντηεεμπλοψερτοπαψανψδαμαγεστοτηεεμπλοψεε
ΣεεΒαρχλαψσΒανκοφΥγανδαϖσΜυβιρυΗΒΒ
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                  Τηεπλαιντιφφ’σχλαιμφορσπεχιαλδαμαγεστηερεφορεφαιλσ
                  Ιταλσοφολλοωστηατσινχετηεφινδινγοφχουρτιστηαττηετερμινατιονοφτηεπλαιντιφφ’σχοντραχτοφεμπλοψμεντωασλαωφυλανδτηατπλαιντιφφηασαλρεαδψβεενπαιδωηατσηεισεντιτλεδτοπυρσυανττοτηετερμινατιοντηερεισνοβασισφορανψαωαρδοφγενεραλδαμαγεσΤηισπαρτοφτηεπλαιντιφφ’σχλαιμισαλσοδισαλλοωεδ
                  Τηεπλαιντιφφ’σσυιττηερεφορεστανδσδισμισσεδαγαινσττηεδεφενδαντ
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