NATION

Court Fixes Dearing Date For Ravai’s Case

Ravai was represented by Simione Valenitabua from Toganivalu and Valenitabua lawyers. WAF was represented by Sharoneel Deo with presiding solicitor Devanesh Sharma from R Patel Lawyers.
30 Aug 2019 17:37
Court Fixes Dearing Date For Ravai’s Case
Opetaia Ravai. Photo: Ashna Kumar

The Employment Relations Court has set a hearing date in the matter of former chief executive officer of the Water Authority of Fiji, Opetaia Ravai.

Ravai had file employment grievance including a defamation case against the Authority after he was allegedly terminated from WAF on June 12, 2018.

The matter was called before Judge Justice Anjala Wati yesterday.

Ravai was represented by Simione Valenitabua from Toganivalu and Valenitabua lawyers. WAF was represented by Sharoneel Deo with presiding solicitor Devanesh Sharma from R Patel Lawyers.

Ravai claimed that his termination was unfair, breach of his contract, breach of the Employment Relations Act, among other grounds.

However, the Authority claimed that the plaintiff’s (Ravai) claims filed were illegal against a designated corporation and thus statute-barred for non-compliance with the Section 188 (4) of the Employment Relations Act (ERA).

ERA 2007 Section 188 (4) states:

  • Any employment grievance between a worker and an employer in essential services and industries that is not a trade dispute shall be dealt with in accordance with Parts 13 and 20, provided however that any such employment grievance must be lodged or filed within 21 days from the date when the employment grievance first arose;
  • Where such an employment grievance is lodged or filed by  a worker in an essential service and industry, then that shall constitute an absolute bar to any claim, challenge or proceedings in any other court, tribunal or commission; and
  • Where a worker in an essential service or industry makes or lodges any claim, challenge or proceedings in any other court, tribunal or commission, then no employment grievance on the same matter can be lodged by that worker under this Act.

The Authority had filed summons to strike out the plaintiff’s (Ravai) claim on the grounds that the matter was an abuse of process of the court.

Mr Valenitabua told the court that his submissions were on the questions of law because the matter was not only about the employment grievance but also defamation and breach of contract.

Justice Wati then questioned that under the Section 220 (Jurisdiction of the Employment Relations Court) of the Employment Relations Act, whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the defamation matter together with the employment grievance?

She said the preliminary question of law under Section 188 (4) under the Employment Relations Act needed to be disposed.

“Together with that, it needs to be determined whether the Employment Relations Court had the jurisdiction under the Section 220 of the Employment Relations Act to hear a defamation claim merged with the employment grievance,” Justice Wati said.

She adjourned the matter for mention on September 18 for both parties to be present in court for a ruling on a similar matter for both parties to hear and reconsider their positions, if necessary.

Meanwhile, the case has been fixed for hearing on September 30 at 2.30pm.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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