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Present: Lascelles C.J.
PllCE ». SUPPAN267— P. C. Kandy, 28,436
Notice cancelling a notice to quit—Must be given to employer, and not toagent of employer—Ordinance No. 13 of 1889, s. 3—OrdinanceNo..9 of 1909., s. 20.
A notice by a cooly to cancel a previous notice to .quit (like theoriginal notice to quit) must. be given to the – employer (and not tohis agent).
An “ employer *’ is thechief person, forthe timebeing,in charge
of an estate, and includes the superintendent.
The question whether"a person is oris not-an 11employer ”
within the meaning ofthe Ordinance isone offact. It is not
concluded by the circumstance that he was the Assistant Superin-tendent, and not the Superintendent, of the estate, for it maywell be that an Assistant Superintendentis at acertaintime the
chief person in direct charge of the estate, and the only person inauthority who is accessible to the labourers.
PPEAL with the sanction of the Attorney-General. The factsare set out in the judgment.
Grenier, for appellant.—Section 3 of Ordinance No. 3 of 188&1defines the term “ employer as the chief person for the time being,in charge of the estate. Here Mr. Price, though he was AssistantSuperintendent of the estate, was in charge of the estate. And.even if he cannot be called employer, Ire acted as agent of Mr. Coles,the employer, and as such the notice of revocation given to the-agent is good in law.
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Wadsworth, tor respondent.—The question as to who the accused’semployer , was is a question of fact. The original notice to quit wasgiven to Mr. Coles, the Superintendent. The present prosecutionwas at the instance of Mr. Coles. Mr. Price himself stated thathe oharged the accused with the authority of Mr. Coles. At theend of the trial the charge itself was amended by alleging thatthe accused quitted the service of Mr. Coles, and not that of thecomplainant, Mr. Price. Under our law there is no provision for anagent of the employer to give or receive notice. The notice to quitmust be given to the' employer, and consequently any revocation ofthat notice must be given to him.
Cur. adv. vult.
May 9, 1912. Lascelles C.J.—
This is an appeal, with the sanction of the Attorney-General, fromthe acquittal of the accused on a charge preferred against him by-Mr. Price, the Assistant Superintendent of Nilembe estate, of hayingillegally quitted the complainant’s service on March 4, 1912. It wasproved that Mr. Coles, who, I understand, is the Superintendent ofthe estate, received a notice of their intention to quit his servicesigned by the accused and other coolies. Subsequently somecoolies denied that they had signed the notice, and Mr. Pricequestioned the accused whether he had signed the notice, andwhether he wished to leave the estate and the accused, whileadmitting that he had signed the notice, stated that he wished tocancel it and remain on the estate. On March 4 accused left theestate, and was at once charged by Mr. Price. The accused thenstated that he wished to leave the estate. The learned PoliceMagistrate acquitted the accused, on the ground -that the accused’sstatement of his intention to cancel the notice being made to Mr.Price, and not to Mr. Coles, did not amount to a valid revocationof the notice to quit.
In appeal it was contended that Mr. Price was the “ employer ”within the meaning of the Ordinance, and that in any case Mr. Price,as the agent of Mr. Coles, was entitled to receive notice of theaccused’s wish to cancel the notice. Section 20 of “ The IndianCoolies Ordinance 1909, ” designates the “ employer ” as the' properperson to receive notice of the labourer’s intention to determine thecontract of service, and section 3 of Ordinance No. 13 of 1889defines the term “ employer ” to mean the chief person, for the timebeing, in charge of an estate, and to include the superintendent.The question, therefore, whether Mr. Price was or was not the‘‘ employer ” within the meaning of the Ordinance is one of fact;it is not, in my opinion, concluded by the circumstance that he wasthe Assistant Superintendent, and not the Superintendent, of theestate, for it may well be that an Assistant Superintendent is at acertain time the chief person in direct charge of the estate, and the
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only person in authority who is accessible to the labourers. Butin the present case it is clear that Mr. Coles, and not Mr. Price,was regarded as the chief person in charge of the estate. Theoriginal notice to quit was given to Mr. Coles; the charge wasinstituted by Mr. Price, as he himself states, with the authorityof Mr. Coles, and the complainant’s proctor at the hearing movedto amend the plaint by alleging that the accused quitted the serviceof “ Mr. J. B. Coles ” instead of the “ complainant’s” service.There can, I think, be no doubt but that Mr. Coles was treated byall the parties and was in fact the ” employer ” within the meaningof the Ordinance. Then, the question arises whether Mr. Price wasentitled as the agent of the employer to receive the notice cancellingthe notice to quit. It is true that the Labour Ordinances are silentas to the person who is entitled to receive a notice cancelling aprevious notice to'quit. But, I think, it is clear that the notice tocancel a previous notice to quit, like the original notice to quit,must be given to the employer. One of the reasons why theseOrdinances provide that the. notice of an intention to quit must begiven to the employer is that the liability of the labourer to criminalprosecution may depend upon the validity of a notice to quit. Thelaw, therefore, provides that the notice can only be validly given tothe responsible employer in charge of the estate. The same con-sideration is applicable to a notice revoking a previous notice toquit. If the doctrine were admitted that such a notice could be.legally given to the employer’s agent, who might be a person in avery subordinate position, the confusion and uncertainty whichwould arise are obvious. The liability of the labourer to convictionmay depend upon the validity of a notice cancelling a previousnotice to quit, in the same way that it may depend on the validityof a notice to quit. And when the law provides that notice to quitcan only be given to the employer, I think it is a necessary conse-quence that a notice of intention to revoke a notice to quit can onlybe given to the same authority, namely, the employer. I think thedecision of the Police Magistrate was right, and I dismiss the appealwith costs.
PRICE v. SUPPAN