MARITIME INTELLIGENCE SDN BHD v. TAN AH GEK

[2022] 1 MLRA 56

MARITIME INTELLIGENCE SDN BHD v. TAN AH GEK
Federal Court, Putrajaya
Rohana Yusuf PCA, Nallini Pathmanathan, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal FCJJ
[Civil Appeal No: 02(f)-60-10-2020(J)]
22 October 2021

JUDGMENT

Nallini Pathmanathan FCJ:

Introduction

[1] The appeal before us turns on one aspect of unfair dismissal law. In this jurisdiction, the remedy for unfair dismissal is codified, inter alia, in s 20 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 ('the Act'). The focal point of the appeal turns on whether the Industrial Court, in the exercise of its statutory function to adjudicate on a representation of dismissal without just cause or excuse under s 20 of the Act, may consider matters or issues which did not comprise basis/reason for the dismissal when the employer made the decision to dismiss, but which the employer seeks to put forward post-dismissal, in the Industrial Court, to justify its earlier decision to dismiss the workman.

[2] This issue is of significance as it touches on the scope and ambit of:

(a) The Industrial Court's powers and jurisdiction under s 20; and

(b) A workman's right to be heard in relation to the reasons made known to him as warranting his dismissal at the time of such dismissal.

[3] The following questions were referred to us:

(a) Whether the Industrial Court has the right to enquire into reasons subsequently put up by the employer via pleading to justify the dismissal, even if such reasons were not given at the time of the dismissal.

(b) Whether the Federal Court decision in Goon Kwee Phoy v. J & P Coats (M) Bhd [1981] 1 MLRA 415; [1981] 2 MLJ 129 is authority for the proposition that the employer is bound only by the reasons of dismissal stated in the letter of termination.

[4] On 22 June 2021 we dismissed the appeal by the employer seeking to rely on post-dismissal matters which were raised for the first time before the Industrial Court. In dismissing the appeal we indicated that we were guided by the rationale behind the Act and the principles of natural justice. We now give our full reasons for reaching that conclusion.

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