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I received the judgment from the Employment Court. I lost.

I’ve only read the case once, last night, so I will obviously re-read it several more times. My first impression is that it is not a well reasoned decision in law.

It reads as a case that the law was not particularly supportive of on the facts, so let’s interpret the facts in a skewed manner.

Sound like sour grapes for losing?

Not really. This case was an interpretation of a contractual clause. The clause was highly ambiguous, if it had been clear, there would have been no case. So with ambiguity, there are a number of ways that the words can be read.

The principles and rules of law regarding interpretation provide the way in which the words ought and must be read. A number of these principles and rules were glossed over by the Judge. This would then [obviously] alter the interpretation of the meaning and hence alter the result.

More interestingly, the Judge could have closed the door on any appeal. Without boring you with the technicalities, a contract interpretation, for an employment contract in NZ has its final interpretation in the Employment Court…it cannot [only under very limited circumstances] be appealed to the Court of Appeal.

My Judge did not follow this path in delivering his judgment. He followed another path which keeps the possibility of an appeal alive. In addition he [I believe] made an error on a point of law, which, would in itself allow an appeal, and has thereby allowed two potential avenues open to pursue an appeal.

My client will obviously make the call on whether we pursue an appeal, but, that option is open, when, had the Judge been more alert to the fact, could have ended any chance of an appeal with a more nuanced judgment.

 

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