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BECAUSE AN EMPLOYER IS A CREATION OF STATUTE DOES NOT MEAN EMPLOYEE IS A CREATION OF STATUTE

Dictum

It is necessary to also state that the fact that an employer is a creation of statute or statutory body, does not without more, raise the legal status of its employees over and above the normal common law master and servant relationship. Also, the fact that a person is pensionable Federal public servant does not mean that his contract of employment is protected by statute. Whether a contract of employment is governed by statute or not depends on the interpretation of the contractual document or the applicable statute. The character of an appointment and the status of the employee is determined by the legal character of the contract. Contracts of employment are determinable by the agreement of the parties’ simplicita. See the cases of ALHASSAN V. ABU ZARIA [2011] 11NWLR (PT. 1259, 417 @ 464;NITEL V JATTAU [1996] 1 NWLR (PT. 425) 392 CA; INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL MANANGEMENT BOARD V MRS JUMMAI R.I ANYIP [2015] 6 ACELR PAGE 27.IMOLOAME V. WAEC (1992) 9 NWLR(PT. 265) 303.

— O. Oyebiola, J. Yakubu v. FRCN (2016) – NIC/LA/673/2013

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REPUDIATION BY ONE PARTY DOES NOT TERMINATE THE CONTRACT EXCEPT WHERE ACCEPTED

In Heyman v. Darwins Ltd. (1949) AC. 356, 361 Viscount Simon L.C. said, “But repudiation by one party standing alone does not terminate the contract. It takes two to end it, by repudiation on the one side, and acceptance of the repudiation on the other.” The proposition is founded on the elementary principles of the formation and discharge of contractual obligations. Where there is a unilateral repudiation of a contract, this is treated as an officer by the guilty part to the innocent party of the termination of the contract. It is the acceptance of the officer by the innocent party which acts as a discharge of the contract. – See Hochster H v. De La Tour (1853) 2 F& B. 678; Johnstone v. Milling (1886) 16 QBD 460. It is then open to the innocent party to sue only for damages since by his acceptance of the repudiation the contract comes to an end. Hence where the innocent party refuses to accept the repudiation the contract remains in existence.

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DUTY OF CLAIMANT TO PROVE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT

It is the well settled position of law that a contract of employment is the bedrock upon which all employment relationships are formed and an aggrieved employee bears the evidential burden to place before the court his contract of employment and show in what way the terms and conditions were breached by the defendant. See F.M.C. Ido-Ekiti & Ors. v Alabi (2011) LPELR 4148 (CA).

— Adewemimo J. Afariogun v FUTA (2020) – NICN/AK/41/2017

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WORKER AND EMPLOYEE UNDER THE LABOUR ACT

As can be seen, the definition of worker under section 91(1) is restrictive given the persons exempted in terms of paragraphs (a) to (f) of the definition. The point is that section 91(1) defines a worker only for the purposes of the Labour Act; as such, not all employees are workers for purposes of the Labour Act. The category of persons under paragraphs (a) to (f) of the definition of a worker may thus be employees but not workers for purposes of the Labour Act. Section 91(1) of the Labour Act defines a worker by reference to an employer i.e. as one who entered into or works under a contract with an employer. So, who is an employer? The same section 91(1) defines an “employer” to mean “any person who has entered into a contract of employment to employ any other person as a worker either for himself or for the service of any other person, and includes the agent, manager or factor of the first-mentioned person and the personal representatives of a deceased employer”. The common denominator in the definition of a worker and an employer is the contract of employment. A “contract of employment” is thus defined by same section 91(1) to mean “any agreement, whether oral or written, express or implied, whereby one person agrees to employ another as a worker and that other personagrees to serve the employer as a worker”.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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SCOPE OF EMPLOYER’S DUTY TO EMPLOYEE INCLUDES TAKING REASONABLE CARE

The law is of common that the scope of an employer’s duty to its employee to take reasonable care for the safety of his workman and other employee in the course of their employment, this duty extends in particular to the safety of place of work, the plant and machinery and the method and conduct of work. Duty of care as an act or omission, has its origin on the concept of foreseeability as decided in the old case of Heaven v. Pencher (1983) 11 QBD 503 at 509 where Bret M.R. said “Whenever one person is by circumstance placed in such a position with regard to another, that everyone of ordinary sense who did think would at once recognise that if he did not use ordinary care and skill in his own conduct with regard to the circumstances he would cause danger, injury to the person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care skill and avoid such danger.”

— O. Oyewumi, J. Aseidu v Japaul (2019) – NICN/AK/01/2016

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WHERE OFFICER HOLDS HIS OFFICE “AT PLEASURE”

Where an officer holds his office “at pleasure,” like was the case in Brown v. Dagenham Urban District Council (1929) 1 K.B. 737 at p.742 he can be dismissed at will in complete disregard of any purported contract whether verbal, or written or even under seal, because such contract will be incompatible with his status...

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SERVANT WRONGFULLY TERMINATED HAS HIS REMEDY IN DAMAGES

In any event even where a servant is wrongfully terminated, the contract comes to an end. He has his remedy in damages. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Chukwumah v. SPDC (1993) Was this dictum helpful? Yes 0 No 0...

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