The Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a judgment by the High Court in which it ordered Standard Bank to pay K65 million to former employees of the defunct Import and Export.
In the case the ex-employees, who were retrenched in 2002, challenged the decision by Receiver and Manager of Import and Export (Malawi) Limited. Raymond Davis who, after selling assets upon liquidation of the company, repaid a loan to the bank that was a secured creditor.
The former employees argued that labour laws say that employees must be given priority to receive terminal benefits when a company is being liquidated.
“Section 34 of the Employment Act gives priority to employees or former employees to receive their terminal benefits above all the creditors,” reads the ruling in part.
The ruling orders the bank to refund the sum of K65, 800,000 that Raymond Davis paid in violation of the order of priority. The court also ordered that the bank must pay compound interest at 1 percent above commercial banking rate.
Lawyer for the former employees Joseph Kamkwasi applauded the decision saying it should serve as a lesson to employers.
“This was a clear case of very bad corporate governance in Malawi. We Malawians should be proud of ourselves and we should avoid trusting foreigners who do not have the interest of Malawians at heart,” he said.
Lawyer for Standard Bank Michael Goba Chipeta said that it is clear that the court has upheld the judgement of the lower court.
“Basically, the court has upheld the judgment of the lower court. This means that they have won the case,” he said.
Import and Export was wound up in 2002 which resulted in 1163 employees being laid off. The former employees took the matter to court after being dissatisfied with their benefits including the failure of the company to provide them with repatriation fees.