NCB loses Privy Council battle against employees over profit-sharing scheme

Halshane Burke reports
By Halshane Burke    
The UK-based Privy Council has ruled against National Commercial Bank in its legal battle with its employees over their entitlement under a profit-sharing scheme.
NCB was seeking to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling by Justice Bryan Sykes who had ruled in favour of the staff.
In December 1980, NCB implemented a profit-sharing scheme with its staff members, who are represented by the NCB Staff Association, which was subsequently incorporated into their employment contracts.
The terms of the scheme were reflected in a staff circular which provided that "the maximum annual amount to be distributed shall be 6% of the consolidated profits before tax, as agreed by the company's auditors before making allowance for the payments under the scheme". 
On December 23, 2002, NCB informed the association that based on computation done by its external auditors, no profit-sharing was payable for the year ended September 30, 2002.
Justice Sykes granted declarations that the profit-sharing scheme formed part of NCB employees' contracts of employment, the deduction was not in keeping with the terms of the circular, and that a profit-sharing payment was due for year ending September 30, 2002.
The judge awarded simple interest from October 1, 2002, to the date of payment.
NCB filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal, contending that the judge wrongly interpreted the circular and the meaning of the term "consolidated profit before tax".
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and NCB took the matter to the UK-based Privy Council.
Submissions in the case were heard by the Privy Council last December and the final court on Tuesday dismissed NCB's appeal.
It ruled that the declarations granted by Justice Sykes should remain unchanged.

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