Hussein v. Labour Court [2012] ILRM 508; [2015] IESC 58

Facts

The applicant in this judicial review (and the employer in the claim to the Labour Court) operated a Pakistani restaurant in Ireland and Mr. Younis, (the notice party in the judicial review and employee in the claim to the Labour Court), claimed that he was recruited by the applicant, Mr. Hussein, to work here as a chef.  Mr. Younis’ took a case to the Rights Commissioner concerning his treatment at work. He maintained that he was grievously exploited since arriving in 2002; he was required to work seven days a week with no holidays, paid what amounted to pocket money in cash and that his employer had failed to regularise his position with the relevant authorities, including the Revenue Commissioners.  These matters only came to his attention in December 2009, whereupon he resigned from his employment and then set in train a series of claims under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994, the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.  Both the Rights Commissioner and then the Labour Court found in Mr. Younis’ favour, awarding him various amounts under the different statutes. The employer then took judicial review proceedings against the decision of the Labour Court (who were merely enforcing the Rights Commissioner award with which the employer had not complied). These proceedings were decided in favour of the applicant (The employer – Mr. Hussein) in the High Court but this decision was over-turned by the Supreme Court.

Held – High Court

Hogan J. found that that the decision of the Labour Court could not be allowed to stand as the claim was founded on an illegal contract. The Labour Court was viewed as having acted against public policy, thereby misusing their powers. However in this decision he noted the vulnerable position of migrant workers and urged the Oireachtas to take action.

Held – Supreme Court

The applicant in the judicial review proceedings had never appealed the decision of the Rights Commissioner or the Labour Court. Judicial review proceedings are not an appeal of the original decision and nor were any judicial review proceedings ever brought against the decision of the Rights Commissioner. In fact, what the applicant judicially reviewed was the decision of the Labour Court only. Thus Murray J. held that the decisions of the Labour Court were not concerned with the merits or lawfulness of the decision of the Rights Commissioner. Murray J held that once the Labour Court had objective evidence of a decision and determination, and evidence that the employer had not paid the amount of the award in each case, it was bound to make the decisions which it did pursuant to s.28(8) of the 1997 Act and s.31(1) of the 2003 Act; it was not permitted to act otherwise under those sections. Murray J held that the Labour Court clearly acted pursuant to and in accordance with its jurisdiction. Since the Labour Court exercised its powers properly and within the parameters defined by the sections in question, Murray J held that there was no basis for setting aside its two decisions by way of judicial review and so he overturned the High Court finding.