A very important judgement was delivered by the Supreme Court of  Appeal (SCA) last week. The unanimous judgement was written by appeal justices Cachalia and Wallis. They confirmed that a summary dismissal of a bank’s financial planner was valid and fair.

In the process they also clarified and restated the law relating to the review of arbitral awards and rejected the suggestion made by acting justice of appeal Murphy in the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) that reviews be replaced by appeals.

Mr Herholdt, a senior financial planner whose commission-earnings exceeded R3.5 million per year, was dismissed without notice during July 2008. The reason related to alleged dishonesty in failing to disclose a conflict of interest. This arose when he was appointed a beneficiary in the will of a client. The CCMA (Herholdt v Nedbank Group [11.02.2009] [2009] 5 BALR 473; (2009) 18 CCMA 8.23.3) decided the dismissal was unfair and reinstated him with retrospective effect.  It was intended that fresh hearing before the same arbitrator would determine the ‘quantum relating to the retrospectivity of the reinstatement’.

The Labour Court (Nedbank Ltd v CCMA (Herholdt) [25.10.2010] unreported LC case D242/09) reviewed and set aside the award. The Labour Appeal Court (LAC) (Herholdt v Nedbank Ltd [4.05.2012] [2012] 9 BLLR 857; (2012) 21 LAC 1.11.43) disallowed Mr Herholdt’s appeal and last week the Supreme Court of  Appeal (Herholdt v Nedbank Ltd [5.09.2013] (701/2012) [2013] ZASCA 97) did the same with the result that Mr Herholdt not only lost his job but also had to pay a very substantial amount in legal costs.