Standard Chartered PLC Abrogates Client’s Right & Flout International Conventions -Lawyer Osman Jalloh

By Amin Kef Sesay

The case between two former employees of the Standard Chartered Bank Limited-Sierra Leone and the Bank itself came up again in High Court on the 17th August 2021 presided over by Justice Sengu Koroma.

Legal representative of  one of the aggrieved former employees, who took the Bank to court for what they deem as illegal dismissal or sacking, Barrister Osman Jalloh in his submission maintained that both the Standard Chartered Bank Sierra Leone Limited and its parent body, Standard Chartered PLC, infringed the human rights of his client as well as violating international conventions.

Lawyer Osman Jalloh referred the court to the supplemental affidavit in opposition sworn to by his client on the 11th August, 2021, to which exhibits U-1 to 17 were attached.

He said he relied on the entirety of the said affidavit.

He argued that the 2nd defendant (Standard Chartered Bank PLC) is a vertically organized entity with absolute control over the 1st defendant (Standard Chartered Bank-Sierra Leone), an arrangement which he stated presupposes that it is a single entity.

The Lawyer drew the court’s attention to exhibit T-1 to 6- a document that deals with the appointment of a Management Team by the Chief Executive Officer of the 2nd defendant (Standard Chartered Bank PLC) to lead the entire global operations of the 2nd defendant.

He said during the appointment of the Management team it was stated that they will “work together as a single team with the leadership of the bank and the interest of our clients”.

Lawyer Jalloh said in exhibit-T 1-6, it was confirmed that Management appointments and directives are issued for the entire globe by Standard Chartered Plc stating that what the other side is seeking for is that the 2nd defendant be treated in the court as a single entity.

To further corroborate the position in exhibit T 1 to 6, he referred the court to exhibit U 1 to 17, a document emanating  from the website of the 2nd defendant in which its defines it workforce.

He said the 2nd defendant has 85,000 employees present in 59 markets with its network serving customers in close to 150 markets worldwide.

Lawyer Osman Jalloh informed the court that the above data was listed on the London and Hog Kong Stoke Exchange, adding that the 2nd defendant described itself as having 776 branches worldwide and 85,000 employees around the world, thus submitting that his client was one of the 85,000 employees across the world.

He submitted that through the description of the 2nd defendant, the documents consciously put out to the world makes a bold statement of its 85,000 employees around the world, thus submitting that his client was certainly included.

He submitted that the 2nd defendant cannot, having presented to the world that, Sulaiman Lome was his employee, now wants to disown him only to suit its convenience.

Jalloh submitted that Sierra Leone is just a small shop out of the 776 branches Standard Chartered PLC has across the world, stating that exhibit-B, which is the substantial affidavit, was what the 2nd defendant put forward as standards based on universal value of Human Rights that they adhere to.

He also drew the attention of the court to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and more particularly Article 13 to 31.

He submitted that the particular claim in the Writ of Summon on exhibit-B of the proceedings and what they have put before the court, was that Standard Chartered PLC had failed to live up to the standards they boldly advertised on their website across the globe.

He said they commenced the proceedings to seek redress for the plaintiff because the 2nd defendant is a necessary and proper person to be before the court.

He submitted that a duty of care was owed to the plaintiff by both the 1st and the 2nd defendants, adding that the said duty was breeched and resulted in career threatening damages.

He recalled that in the submission of the other side before the court, they referred to relief No.7 which is damages to conspiracy in exhibit-B.

He noted that such would not be a necessary claim, submitting that the plaintiff has not satisfied the claim in terms of the particulars to support it.

He said his first submission to that claim was that they do not need any requirement to satisfy that claim and that such was not a basis to argue that the 2nd defendant should not be the necessary and proper party to the matter.

Lawyer Jalloh noted that if at all the other side was right the procedure was to ask for better claim and not to say the court should strike out the 2nd defendant.

He said Order 2, Rule 1 of the High Court Rules, are clear that even when there was non-compliance, such does not render the proceedings null and void.

Barrister Osman Jalloh submitted that when the other side was filing a defence on behalf of the 1st defendant, they filed without even asking for better particulars and referred the court to the supplementary affidavit in reply from the other side on 6th August, 2021, coupled with exhibit K attached to the said affidavit.

He said the requirement for conspiracy was fully complied with, and submitted that even if they have not done so, there were procedures to be applied.

The Lawyer submitted that the evidence been put before the court has raised serious issues which support the plaintiff’s claim.

He said the affidavit in opposition shows that the 2nd defendant put out group wide application standard guidelines and policies.

He also put before the court evidence, exhibit-N 1 to 9, which showed that the 2nd defendant took active step in training personnel of the 1st defendant including the plaintiff, stating that they also put before the court evidence which showed that personnel of the 2nd defendant were very active in the supervision and enforcement of the standards, guidelines and regulations put out by the 2nd defendant.

He said Edward Ensah, who is the Head of Employee Relation for West Africa, was the one giving notice to the plaintiff about disciplinary proceedings instituted against him, noting that they have also put before the court exhibit-K 1 to 46, which shows that a transaction in Sierra Leone was dealt with extensively by persons in the United Kingdom, India, New York, Austria, Dubai, Nigeria and other countries.

He said they have also shown to the court that the 2nd defendant supervises among others, the 1st defendant’s operations and also the management of the affairs of the 1st defendant.

He argued that for the decision to be taken against his client they went right across the world, which shows that the 2nd defendant actively participated in the supervision, management and operations of the 1st defendant.

He submitted that their position in so far as the case is concerned is that, their case is stronger and what they have put before the court unequivocally establishes that the 2nd defendant is a direct majority shareholder of the 1st defendant, and readily, the 1st defendant through its vertical management structure.

He noted that the 2nd defendant actively participated in the dismissal of the plaintiff from his employment, refused to hear the plaintiff’s appeal against his dismissal and now seeks, notwithstanding its motto ‘Here for Good’.

The learned Counsel said the grounds of appeal were reviewed by people who are not working for the 1st defendant and that it showed that the 2nd defendant participated actively in the enforcement of the standard guidelines, hence it is a proper case of the 2nd defendant to face trial in Sierra Leone.


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