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Oct 6, 2015

Court Upholds Appeal by UB Board of Trustees

Denys Barrow

Today, the Court of Appeal wasted no time in upholding an appeal by the University of Belize’s Board of Trustees. The matter before the panel was the Supreme Court’s decision on the termination of UB Dean, Abigail McKay. McKay signed a contract with the university for three years, but claimed that because of the guidelines in the institution’s handbook her tenure should have been extended to five years. The Appeal Court didn’t buy that argument, and attorneys for the appellant and the respondent spoke to us today.

 

Denys Barrow, Attorney, UB Board of Trustees

“The claimant brought a claim in what you call judicial review against the University saying that they should have extended her contract by a further two years beyond the three years for which she signed. The University took the point in the high court that that was a wrong claim to bring…that she had a contract for three years and if she was dissatisfied with that she should not have made a three year contract. She insisted that she had the right, although the contract did not say so, to a two year extension. Unfortunately the Judge…he went out of his way as the Court of Appeal found to try to help her along, but it was an erroneous move that the Judge made so the Court of Appeal has struck down the decision and said that the claim ought never to have been brought in this fashion.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Abigail McKay

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“I tried to argue that there are cases that show that not everything is by statute, that there are legitimate expectations. Clearly if you were in there you would see that the Judge, especially Justice Blackman was absolutely not for it. he made a clear cut distinction between the contract and judicial review. So at the end of the day they are not saying that she does not have a claim, they’re just saying don’t bring it in public law which is judicial review, bring it in private law which is contract. In reality the contract did stipulate that she was entitled to an additional two years. She grounded that on the fact that it was by the policy, it was by a mandatory five years that Deans should have and so this should be a warning to all Deans out there, anybody who gets hired by the University to go and read the handbook and make sure they incorporate the provisions of the handbook in their contract or to get better provisions than what is in the handbook.”

 

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