THOUSANDS of pounds in fines imposed by Employment Tribunals are being handed back after a Royal Court ruling.
The court has ruled that the tribunals have been fining employers without any legal authority to do so.
Social Security Minister Paul Routier says that the £7,750 that has been collected in fines will be returned automatically to the companies involved.
Jersey Employment Tribu-nal chairman Advocate David Le Quesne (pictured) has admitted that they got it wrong. He says that there are now plans to change the law to empower the tribunal to hand out the fines. Their lack of powers came to light when CI Fire and Security Ltd appealed against a fine handed to them at the end of a tribunal convened to hear the unfair dismissal claim of alarm engineer Mark Browning. They were ordered to pay him £8,640 for unfairly sacking him – but the Royal Court hearing centred on an additional fine of £250 imposed for not including disciplinary procedures in Mr Browning’s ‘terms of employment’.
Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith has written a damning judgment, saying that all the safeguards required by natural justice had been ignored. He wrote: ‘There can be no doubt that the tribunal has no power to prosecute, convict and fine offenders for offen-ces created under the law. I have to say that I find it difficult to understand how the tribunal assumed to itself the powers of a criminal court, which it must have done without first taking the precaution of obtaining advice from the Attorney General, over whose exclusive jurisdiction it has impinged.’