Arleen Mcbean v Sheldon Gordon v Patrae Rowe v The Police Federation

 
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[2019] JMSC Civ 38

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE OF JAMAICA

Bertram Linton, J.

CLAIM NO. SU2019CV00592

Between:
Arleen Mcbean
Applicant
and
Sheldon Gordon
1 st Respondent
Patrae Rowe
2 nd Respondent
The Police Federation
3 rd Respondent
IN CHAMBERS

Mrs Valerie Neita-Robertson, Q.C. and Mr. Hugh Wildman for the Claimant

Mrs Symone Mayhew and Miss Rushelle Johnson for the 1 st and 2 nd Respondents

Mrs Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, Q.C. and Ms Althea Grant for the 3 rd Respondent

Application for Interim Injunction — Factors to be considered in granting Interim Injunction — Constabulary Force Act — Jamaica Police Federation — Whether a final hearing of a dispute is unlikely to occur because the grant or refusal of an injunction would virtually bring the dispute to an end — Whether damages are an adequate remedy — American Cyanamid plus test — The effect of the absence of an undertaking in damages — Where would the greater risk of injustice lie.

Bertram Linton, J
BACKGROUND
1

In May of 2018, the Applicant and the 1 st Respondent were elected as Chairman and General Secretary respectively of the Police Federation. The Applicant was entrusted with tasks which included but were not limited to, liaising with the government and engaging in salary negotiations with the Government of Jamaica, chairing meetings and advocating to the Commissioner of Police and the Ministry of National Security on general welfare issues and matters of Police Force efficiency.

2

In September of 2018 however, the Applicant says that there were marked behavioural changes towards her by members of the Central Committee who were claiming that she had been circumventing the rules and procedures that governed the Federation.

3

In October 2018, the 2 nd Respondent states by way of affidavit evidence filed on February 26, 2019, (para 14) that he had shared via WhatsApp messages to members of the Central Committee, his concerns about the stewardship of the Applicant ‘touching and concerning a wide range of matters’ that he felt were unsatisfactory. The messages as he described them noted ‘specific points that required discussion at the Central Committee level.” He does not indicate if any of these issues were ever shared with the Applicant directly.

4

The 2 nd Respondent in his affidavit also stated that the messages with the concerns were leaked to persons outside of the Central Committee. They became the subject of discussion in the wider membership of the Police Federation. In the meantime, the publication came to the attention of the Applicant.

5

At a meeting in November 2018 at which the contentious issues spoken of in the whats app messages were brought up the 2 nd Respondent described the Applicant as making “loud outburst, cried and ranted in an Executive meeting to discuss the issues.” It appeared that the meeting was by his account very antagonistic and that the General Secretary was to address the General Membership about the contents of the leaked messages.

6

The court got the impression that as a result of the said meeting, there was a disconnect and dysfunction among the members of the Central Committee, and the parties seemed to have been operating without reference, agreement or consensus to each other.

7

In or around mid-December 2018 the Applicant says that in her representative capacity as Chairman of the Federation she concluded salary negotiations with the Government on behalf of the Federation. Later that same month and into the new year she apparently continued soliciting funds and making plans for various projects of the federation, in that environment of disconnect.

8

On the 28 th of January 2019, the 1 st Respondent convened a meeting for discussions to be had regarding concerns, queries and questions raised by the members of the Central Committee. The 1 st Respondent at the meeting expressed his personal dissatisfaction with the Applicant's management style and stewardship. At paragraph 29, of her affidavit filed on February 29 th 2019, the Applicant says that the 1 st Respondent had in his hand a copy of a message by the 2 nd Respondent which had gone viral. Consequently, the Applicant says the members requested that the meeting be chaired by an independent third party who followed through on the issues which arose. On adjournment, another meeting was called for the next day (January 29, 2019) for further assessment of the issues.

9

It is obvious to the court that the relationship between the claimant and the 1 st and 2 nd respondents had broken down so badly that things had become tense and the parties were no more in a position to deal with the issues among themselves.

10

At the meeting on the 29 th of January 2019, the Applicant was chairing the meeting when it seems that a decision was made for her to relinquish management of the meeting to the 1 st Respondent who took over proceedings and invited motions from the floor. From uncontested accounts, the 2 nd Respondent, moved a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the Applicant. This did not however seem to be a unanimous position among them as there was disapproval from a member of the Committee.

11

Following up on activities which are unclear the 1 st Respondent was subsequently elected as the new Chairman and the 2 nd Respondent as the New General Secretary of the Central Committee.

THE APPLICATION
12

The matter came before this court on the 18 th of February 2019 because the Applicant sought an ex parte injunction. The injunction requested:

  • a) A mandatory injunction that the Applicant be reinstated to the post of Chairman of the Police Federation pending the determination of this claim.

  • b) Such further and other relief as this Honourable Court thinks fit.

  • c) Costs.

13

The grounds of the application were as follows:

  • a) The Applicant is the duly elected Chairman of the Police Federation, arising from the 75 th Annual Joint Central Conference held in May 2018.

  • b) The election, was in keeping with the provisions of the Constabulary Force Act, and in particular Section 67 of the said Act and the Second Schedule made there under.

  • c) Consequent on that election in May 2018, the Applicant is entitled as a matter of law, to serve for a period of one (1) year, subject to the provisions of Section 71(1) of the Constabulary Force Act.

  • d) On the 29 th of January 2019, the 1 st and 2 nd Respondents arranged for a meeting of the Central Committee of the Police Federation, of which the Applicant is the Chairman, to be convened. At the meeting, the 1 st Respondent assumed the role of Chairman of the said meeting and caused motions to be taken in the removal of the Applicant as the duly elected Chairman of the Police Federation.

  • e) At the said meeting, the 1 st Respondent caused a motion to be taken resulting in the 2 nd Respondent being appointed the General Secretary of the said Police Federation.

  • f) The Applicant contends that both the appointment of the 1 st and 2 nd Respondent as the purported Chairman and General Secretary of the Police Federation, respectively, are illegal, null and void and of no effect.

  • g) The Applicant contends that at the time of the purported removal of the Applicant as the duly elected Chairman of the Police Federation, none of the provisions contained in Section 71(1) of the Constabulary Force Act, was applicable to the Applicant.

  • h) The Applicant maintains that she remains the duly elected Chairman of the Police Federation and is entitled to serve in that office, subject to the provisions of Section 71(1) of the Constabulary Force Act, until the next Annual Joint Central Conferences of the Police Federation in May of 2019.

  • i) The Applicant, therefore, seeks the intervention of this Honourable Court, by way of a Mandatory Injunction to have the Applicant reinstated to the post of Chairman of the Police Federation, a post that she was legally elected to, to serve for s legally constituted period of 1 year.

14

An ex parte injunction was granted and what is now before us is an inter partes hearing pending the trial of the Fixed Date Claim Form which was filed on the 22 nd February 2019.

SUBMISSIONS
Applicant
15

In the Applicant's oral submissions, Counsel, Mr Hugh Wildman, relied on Section 67 and the Second Schedule of the Constabulary Force Act where:

Section 67 states that: -

“(1) For the purpose of enabling the Sub-Officers and Constables of the Force to consider and bring to the notice of the Commissioner of Police and the Minister all the matters affecting their general welfare and efficiency, there shall be established in accordance with the Second Schedule an organization to be called the Police Federation which shall act through Branch Boards, Central Conferences and a Central Committee as provided in that Schedule.

(2) No representations shall be made by the Federation in relation to any question of discipline, promotion, transfer, leave or any other matter, unless some question of principle is involved.

(3) the Police Federation shall be entirely independent of and unassociated with anybody outside the Force.

(4) The Minister may by order from time to...

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