The employment tribunal system was established to provide an employee the regime in which to make a formal complaint that their employer has violated the Employment Act 2000 (the “Act”). The process was designed to encourage the parties to settle their differences wherever possible. If the parties cannot reach an agreement and there are reasonable grounds to suggest the employer may have violated the Act, the parties proceed to the Employment Tribunal for a hearing which lacks the sometimes daunting formalities of the courts. The trouble with the process in Bermuda is that over the course of the last several years, the Act has been interpreted in such a way as to limit the role of the Employment Inspectors, pushing many, if not all complaints, through to the Employment Tribunal. This erodes important principles of justice and the pendulum has swung so far toward due process for the employee that parties are no longer on equal footing.
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Setting aside the effects on the UK economy, which are already being felt with political turmoil, the fall of the pound, billions being slashed from UK stocks worldwide and the potential break-up of the United Kingdom itself, one little examined effect is how its overseas dependent territories, of which Bermuda is one of the largest, would fare in the post-Brexit world, particularly in their relationship with the EU that the UK is leaving behind.
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Prior to 2011 immigration appeals from decisions made by the Minister were dealt with by the Appeal Tribunal within the Cabinet. In 2011, the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (the “IAT”) was established as an independent body by the Bermuda Immigration & Protection Amendment Act 2011. However, it was only following the implementation of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Appeal) Rules 2013 (the “Appeal Rules”) that the IAT was convened.
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A recent decision of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bermuda given on 23 November 2015, illustrates the importance of adherence to Human Rights’ provisions in the employment context. In what has been referred to as a landmark decision, the Chief Justice upheld a decision of a Board of Inquiry that Mr. Harkin (the “Appellant”) “was discriminated against on the grounds of his place of origin in that the promotion procedure was applied to him a prejudicial manner by virtue of his being a contract worker”.
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The Supreme Court of Bermuda handed down its judgment in the matter of The Minister for Home Affairs v Carne and Correia  SC (Bda) 9 Civ (2 May 2014) (510 KB PDF) on 2 May 2014. The fundamental result of this judgment is that under certain circumstances, holders of Permanent Resident Certificates (“PRC”) who have been resident in Bermuda prior to July 1989 can now apply for Bermudian Status — an application which Chief Justice Kawaley described as “one of the most significant applications that it is possible for an applicant to make” pursuant to the “beauty in the sleeping provisions” of Section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 (“BIPA”). Read More »