DeVere to appeal after losing in £217k South African ex-employee court case

DeVere has appealed against a South African court ruling that it must pay ZAR3.7m (£217,380) in outstanding commission, notice paid and an unpaid portion of a bonus, to a former area manager that it fired.

The global advisory firm argued in court that it did not have to pay the outstanding sum to former area manager Ross Pennell on the grounds that his work permit had expired, nullifying his contract.

The judge in the case, which took place at the Cape Town Labour Court, however, ruled in favour of Pennell, deeming him a “more credible” witness than deVere group chief executive Nigel Green, pictured left, who gave evidence in court.

DeVere had until 5 May to pay the money, which it did not do, and until 16 May to lodge an appeal, which it did yesterday (15 May).

A deVere company spokesman said that the company is “extremely disappointed with the ruling”, and confirmed its intentions to appeal the decision.

‘Wholly confident’

“We are wholly confident that we will be successful in this appeal process as, since this case was in court, we have received further crucial evidence that we believe will prove our case beyond any doubt.

“Furthermore, we have been approached by additional witnesses who will, we are sure, prove our case.”

“De Vere maintains its original position and is committed to having this decision overturned by winning the appeal that we will imminently launch. We look forward to a successful outcome,” the spokesperson added.

Appeal 

DeVere’s appeal centres on Pennell’s rights to be able to work in South Africa, and its contetion that this was not given enough weight by the judge. It has also challenged the calculations and amounts of the bonuses that the judge ruled that deVere must pay.

Pennell, a British national, had worked for deVere under a spousal visa which expired on 12 June 2014. He was fired on 8 September that year, as the company said that he did not have a work permit.

DeVere therefore argued that Pennell’s contract was effectively nullified, as he no longer had the right to work in the country.

Pennell’s defence lawyer cited a legal statue that the lack of a work permit does not invalidate an employment contract, which the judge agreed with, in making his ruling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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