Employee Sends Bailiffs In To His Employer - by Karen Davis

Updated: Feb 3

The report of this case "QDA v EKD" is hard to read because there are no names. The applicant is referred to as QDA and is the employer. The respondent, EKD, is the employee. I am going to call them Quentin and Ed to make it easier to read.

Last year, Ed took Quentin to the Employment Relations Authority for unjustifiable dismissal and, last October, he won. The Authority ordered Quentin to pay Ed back the fee for lodging the case ($71.56) and tax-free compensation for hurt and humiliation of $9,000.

Quentin applied for the Court to rehear the case in November last year and asked the Court to stay the execution of the Authority's determination. That would mean he would not have to pay the money until the Court had reheard the case.

Quentin also said, if there was no stay, he could instead pay the money into court (so it was held independently) while the case was reheard in the Court.

While Judge Bruce Corkill was dealing with the to and fro of the application for a stay of execution, Ed got a warrant from the District Court as a "judgment creditor" to send in the bailiffs to seize Quentin's property to satisfy the debt to him.

A bailiff went to Quentin's premises intending to take a vehicle. Quentin said there was a rehearing coming up in the Employment Court but the bailiff said he was instructed to execute the warrant. An application for a rehearing does not operate as a stay.

Quentin applied again, this time urgently, to the Employment Court for a stay of execution of the Authority's determination.

He said that following the unjustifiable dismissal, Ed had been left without work and would spend the money he was awarded by the Authority if he received it, so Quentin might not get the money back if he then won in the Court.

Judge Kerry Smith said that was a good reason to stay the execution of the Authority determination, so he did.

It's very common for employees to go to the stress and expense of taking a case to the Authority, and to feel vindicated when they get a win, but then find the employer doesn't pay. Employers and their lawyers know that employees usually won't do anything about it and in the end they will probably just go away.

Judge Smith's decision suggests that employees who do try to enforce a win in the Authority may find it just encourages the employer to go to the Court for a rehearing and to get a stay in the meantime, until as usual the employee just goes away.

But kudos to Ed as a self-represented person redressing the balance, even if only for a little while.

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