The Court of Appeal has dismissed attempt by East Africa’s leading oil manufacturer Bidco Africa to pursue an appeal to reverse Sh22.4 million award to 296 former employees.
The court led by Justice Patrick Kiage dismissed the case after the manufacturer failed to explain the delay in filing the case, saying the reasons were neither excusable nor satisfactory.
“All of them could have been mitigated if counsel and the firm were vigilant,” said Kiage.
Bidco through its counsel maintained that they had every intention to file the record of appeal within the requisite timelines when the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country on March 13, 2020.
However, due to the pandemic, the courts scaled down their operations and suspended the receipt of physical documents making them unable to file the record.
“Similarly, and in accordance with the Government’s directives, the firm scaled down its operations and was only accessible in shifts by a very lean staff so that it was not possible to have the record of appeal prepared and filed during that time,” stated Bidco.
Additionally, the firm stated that it reported four positive cases of Covid-19 in June which led to closure of the office and the clerk who was instructed to put together the record of appeal was locked out of Nairobi County and remained in Machakos County until the travel ban was lifted.
Counsel urged the court that the explained delay was occasioned by unprecedented circumstances and the applicant ought not to be penalized for it.
The court also maintained that despite the issuance of practise directions on electronic case management which provided for e-filing and e-service system to be adopted by courts, Bidco failed to adhere to the rules and file for the appeal.
In July 2018, the initial judgment was delivered by Justice Abuodha, where all the respondents were to receive one month’s salary in lieu of notice, and in lieu of leave for each completed year of service from 2009 to 2013.
Another order directed counsel for the parties to liaise and compute what was due to the respondents to enable the court to record a final order.
However, the parties were unable to agree on what was due to the respondents as directed by the court making Bidco move to court in November 2019 where a judgment on quantum was delivered by Justice Onyango.
Justice Onyango awarded the respondents a total sum of Sh22, 419,653.