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Judgment: James Bryson V Three Foot Six Ltd


James Bryson V Three Foot Six Limited (SC CIV 24/2004) [2005 NZSC 34] PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at Judicial Decisions of Public Interest www.courts.govt.nz/judgments.

The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed Mr Bryson’s appeal against the majority decision of the Court of Appeal and has restored the decision of the Employment Court that Mr Bryson was an employee of Three Foot Six Ltd and not an independent contractor. That ruling enables him to pursue personal grievance claims under the Employment Relations Act 2000 against Three Foot Six. Mr Bryson was made redundant by Three Foot Six and alleges unjustifiable dismissal. He can bring such a claim only if found to be an employee.

The Supreme Court said that s 214 of the Employment Relations Act limits appeals to the Court of Appeal to significant questions of law. The question of whether Mr Bryson was an employee or an independent contractor was ultimately one of fact and the Employment Court had not been shown to have committed any error of law in reaching its decision. The majority of the Court of Appeal had been wrong to substitute its view for that of the Employment Court Judge.

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