Vine v National Dock Labour Board

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Chancellor,Lord Morton of Henryton,Lord Cohen,Lord Keith of Avonholm,Lord Somervell of Harrow
Judgment Date05 December 1956
Judgment citation (vLex)[1956] UKHL J1205-4
Date05 December 1956
CourtHouse of Lords
Vine
and
National Dock Labour Board et è Contra

[1956] UKHL J1205-4

Lord Chancellor

Lord Morton of Henryton

Lord Cohen

Lord Keith of Avonholm

Lord Somervell of Harrow

House of Lords

After hearing Counsel, as well on Tuesday the 9th, as on Wednesday the 10th, Thursday the 11th and Monday the 15th, days of October last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Walter Charles Vine, of 4 Middle Street, Southampton, in the County of Southampton, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 30th of November 1955, except so far as regards the words, "It is further Ordered that the Plaintiff's costs of this Appeal be taxed as between Solicitor and Client in accordance with the provisions of the Third Schedule to the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949" and also except so far as regards the words, "It is further Ordered that the sum of Fifty-two pounds ten shillings (£52 10s. 0d.) now in Court standing to the credit of this action (subject nevertheless to the first charge thereon under section 3 (4) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949) be paid out to the Plaintiff's Solicitors as specified in Part II hereof", might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order, except so far as aforesaid, might be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Petitioner might have such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the Petition and Cross Appeal of the National Dock Labour Board, praying that the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 30th of November 1955, so far as therein stated to be appealed against, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order, so far as aforesaid, might be reversed, varied or altered, and that the Petitioner might have the relief prayed for in the Cross Appeal, or such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of the National Dock Labour Board; and also upon the Case of Walter Charles Vine, lodged in the said Original and Cross Appeals; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 30th day of November 1955, so far as stated to be appealed against in the said Original and Cross Appeals, be, and the same is hereby, Reversed, and that the Judgment of the Honourable Mr. Justice Ormerod of the 28th day of July 1955, thereby Varied, be, and the same is hereby, Restored: And it is further Ordered, That the said Petition and Cross Appeal be, and the same is hereby, dismissed this House: And it is further Ordered, That the said National Dock Labour Board, do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Walter Charles Vine the Costs incurred by him in the Court of Appeal, and also the Costs incurred by him in respect of the said Original and Cross Appeals to this House, such Costs to be taxed in the manner usual when the Appellant sues in forma pauperis, and the amount thereof to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.

Lord Chancellor

My Lords,

1

The appeal and cross-appeal in this matter are brought by leave of your Lordships' House from a judgment of the Court of Appeal dismissing an appeal from, but varying the judgment of, Ormerod, J. The learned Judge had granted a declaration that the purported dismissal by the National Dock Labour Board (whom I shall call "the National Board") of Mr. Vine (whom I shall call "the Plaintiff") was illegal, ultra vires and invalid and had awarded him £250 damages. The Court of Appeal, by a majority, struck out the declaration.

2

As a result of the appeal and cross-appeal your Lordships have now to decide whether that purported dismissal was invalid, whether the majority of the Court of Appeal were right in striking out the declaration and whether the award of £250 damages should stand.

3

The Plaintiff was at the material time a dock labourer in the Port of Southampton and had been so employed for many years and was in fact a "registered dock worker available for work" and "in the reserve pool" within the scheme which I shall describe. He was therefore deemed to be in the employment of the National Board. All dock workers are employed and controlled under a Scheme embodied in the Schedule to the Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Order, 1947, which was made under section 2 of the Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act. 1946.

4

The relevant portions of the scheme would appear to be:—

A. Clause 1, which sets out its objects of ensuring regularity of employment and availability of workers.

B. Clause 3, which establishes the National Board and sets out its functions, including keeping the register or records of dock workers.

C. Clause 3 (3), by which it is the duty of the National Board to delegate as many as possible of their functions to local boards.

D. Clause 5 (2), which deals with the composition of local boards and imports the principle of equal numbers of employers and workers.

E. Clause 6, which ( inter alia) includes within the matters for which the local board is responsible to the National Board removal from the register of the name of any dockworker, in accordance with the provisions of the scheme.

F. Clause 8, by which a registered dockworker available for work is required to carry out the directions of the local board.

G. Clause 14, which contains the conditions of payment under the scheme for unemployment or under-employment.

H. Clause 15, which provides for disentitlement to such payment and also for a procedure which has a special relevance; paragraph (4) provides:—

"(4) The local board shall consider any written report received under paragraphs ( 2) or (3) hereof, and if, after investigating the matter, the board notifies the registered dock worker that it is satisfied that there has been such failure or behaviour as aforesaid, the registered dock worker shall not be entitled to any payment, or to such part of any payment as the board thinks fit, under Clause 14 hereof in respect of the pay week in which such failure or behaviour occurred or continues."

I. Clause 16 (2), which provides:—

"(2) Where a registered dock worker available for work fails to comply with any of the provisions of the Scheme, then without prejudice to and in addition to the powers conferred by Clause 15 hereof, the local board may lake any of the following steps as regards that dock worker—it may

( a) determine that for such period as it thinks proper he shall not be entitled to any payment under Clause 14 hereof;

( b) suspend him without pay for a period not exceeding seven days;

( c) give him seven days' notice of termination of employment;

( d) dismiss him summarily."

J. Clause 17, which provides:—

"(1) The employment of a registered dock worker in the reserve pool who is available for work shall not be terminated except …

( b) by the giving of seven days' notice in writing …

(2) A registered dock worker in the reserve pool who is available for work shall not leave his employment with the National Board except by giving seven days' notice in writing to the local board or so as to be employed in accordance with the provisions of the Scheme.

(3) [That where the employment of a registered dock worker by the National Board has been determined as aforesaid] his name shall forthwith be removed from the register or record."

K. Clause 18, which contains the provisions for certain appeals to an appeal tribunal appointed by the local board.

5

On the 6th November, 1947, the South Coast Local Dock Labour Board adopted Standing Orders under which the local board:

(A) should be responsible for administering the Scheme and such matters as were assigned to the local board by the Scheme or by the Respondents, subject only to such limitations as might be imposed from time to time by the National Board.

(B) might delegate to a Committee such of its functions and powers as it might deem appropriate provided such delegated Committee conformed to the regulations and restrictions imposed by the National Board, or the local board.

(C) determined its own quorum, to consist of seven persons.

6

The local board set up disciplinary committees consisting of two members (one from the employers and one from the dock workers); such duties were to be undertaken by the members of the local board in turn.

7

On the 3rd February, 1948, the National Board, in accordance with Clause 3 (3) of the Scheme, approved the delegation of functions to committees of local boards, including the delegation of powers to disciplinary committees in the manner previously resolved by the local board.

8

On the 29th October, 1952, the Plaintiff was detailed for work with a company of stevedores, J. Rose & Co., Ltd. (who were in fact registered employers within the Scheme) and was required to start shift work at 8 p.m. on that day. The Plaintiff did not attend for the work and was reported to the local manager of the National Board by the stevedores by letter dated the 30th October, 1952. On the same day one E. W. Chapman, the local manager on behalf of the National Board, reported this complaint to the Plaintiff and invited his explanation. By letter dated the 1st November, 1952, the Plaintiff gave the following explanation in writing: "Had requested to Port Officer "to be given work so that I could finish at...

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