All charges were brought too late, Crown agrees
The last of six charges against Advanced Road Construction & Paving Ltd. were dismissed on Monday when Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson agreed that the charge of failing to pay wages had been brought outside the six-month time limit allowed for Summary Court matters.
Magistrate Philippa McFarlane explained that defense attorney Clyde Allen provided email correspondence not previously seen by the Crown. It confirmed that the Department of Labour and Pensions had actual knowledge of the complaint from as early as September 2013. On that basis, the charge laid in May 2014 was out of time.
The charge related to a sum of $2,857 claimed by an employee for the period September 2007 to May 2013.
This charge was dismissed, as were five others in December 2014 for the same reason.
At that time, the magistrate said, “The Department of Labour and Pensions should ensure that immediate efforts are made to ensure that charges in summary-only matters are laid without delay once it has formed the view that there are reasonable and probable grounds for believing that a potential defendant has committed an offense.
“Moreover, the Department of Labour and Pensions should also ensure that its inspectors understand the distinction to be drawn between evidence which is sufficient to justify the commencement of proceedings, as opposed to evidence which is sufficient to found a conviction.”
Mr. Ferguson said the department would have to start charging employers without negotiating first. The emphasis had been for department officers to attempt to obtain for employees what they were entitled to by law rather than simply seeking a conviction.