Not All Plain Sailing - Guernsey Employment Tribunals

The Guernsey Employment Tribunal has recently considered a case involving allegations of gross misconduct. This article considers the case and what can be learnt from the Tribunal’s approach.

The Facts
The employee, who worked as a yacht compliance officer at a specialist aviation and marine administration business, was dismissed following allegations relating to bribery and the deliberate concealment of wine on board a yacht with the intention of avoiding tax duties whilst transiting the Suez Canal.

The employer relied on evidence from two co-workers to dismiss. They claimed to have overheard the employee speaking on the telephone with the captain of the yacht and telling him to “hide everything under the bunks, in the jacuzzi and put the cover on”. Evidence was also given of a conversation between the employee and the yacht owner’s PA. The employee was alleged to have said that the PA should “ensure the captain has sufficient funds on board to pay the crew and any bribes necessary”.

The employee did not deny speaking to the captain or referring to bribes. However, he claimed that he had simply parroted back the terminology used by the captain during the phone call. According to the employee, the “bribe” was in fact a “baksheesh”, or gift, customarily demanded (indeed expected) by Egyptian authorities for doing nothing more than their job, not a payment to get something extra or on the side. He had, he said, given the captain advice on how to store the wine to avoid petty pilfering. He denied having spoken to the PA about wine storage.

 

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GUERNSEY
Louise HallManaging PartnerT +44 (0)1 481 748909louise.hall@walkersglobal.com
Victoria PrattSenior AssociateT +44 (0)1481 748 938victoria.pratt@walkersglobal.com