Victory for Sandy Lane
by Shawn Cumberbatch
The owners and management of the luxurious Sandy Lane Hotel are celebrating an historic court victory against a former employee.
Attorney-at-law Satcha Kissoon, who represented the St. James company after its former Director of Spa & Leisure, Brigitte Laurayne filed a law suit against it alleging constructive dismissal, told Barbados TODAY the battle was over and that the Caribbean Court of Justice had ruled completely in Sandy Lane’s favour.
It means that a Barbados Court of Appeal decision and award of $36,000 in damages to Laurayne have been negated and she will now have to pay the five diamond hotel’s legal costs at the magistrate’s, Court of Appeal and CCJ level.
“That Court of Appeal decision has been set aside entirely; the issue now is that Laurayne will have to pay Sandy Lane’s costs. Sandy Lane is exceptionally happy because they were concerned about the Court of Appeal decision. They feel vindicated,” Kissoon said.
The lawyer also noted that having heard the matter in its entirety and decided in Sandy Lane’s favour, the only thing to be decided now was how much Laurayne would have to pay.
“The battle is over and unfortunately for her she was not the victor,” he said, noting that the hotel which employed 800 people had maintained its record as a responsible employer.
Kissoon also said judgments like this showed value and objectivity of the CCJ.
“I know that historically and in the past people had concerns with a Caribbean court because they were concerned that there was no way that they would overturn decisions of Courts of Appeal of the Caribbean,” he stated.
“We are seeing a trend that as long as the decision is improper the Caribbean Court of Justice will do justice to the case. Seeing that there are no cases of insularity that will fetter that persons can feel extremely comfortable.” Kissoon and Sandy Lane were also happy that the $120,000 award of damages Laurayne sought through the CCJ from the tourism property would not have to paid.
During his appearance before the CCJ panel in Trinidad last week, Kissoon told the court there had been no breaches in the contract between the company and Laurayne.
He also suggested that rather than pushing her out of her job, Sandy Lane was in fact ensuring it maintained its reputation as a world class hotel, which included hiring the most qualified and competent staff. Laurayne’s counsel, attorney-at-law Brian Weekes, had argued that the way the hiring of an individual in his client’s department was done was in fact akin to her constructive dismissal.
“It would have been open to her to feel, we submit, that her employer had lost confidence in her, they did not have confidence in her ability to do what was necessary to take the spa to the next level,” he said.
He also said she deserved a larger monetary court settlement, but the CCJ panel ruled against this.