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The parties must prove the claims against each other

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The Parties who file claims and pleas must prove to the Court their respective positions. This was held in a judgement delivered by the Magistrates Court, presided by Dr Nadine Lia, on 22 February 2023. The case is Thomas Djafari et -v- TRC Family Entertainment Limited.

The Plaintiffs, consisting of 4 former employees of the Defendant company, claimed in their application that they were owed €13,785 representing their salaries for September 2014.

TRC filed a statement of defence claiming that the action was time-barred in terms of Article 2147(c) of the Civil Code and that the plaintiff is to explain their claim. The plea of prescription was challenged a number of times, and there were a number of preliminary judgements from the Magistrates’ Court and the Court of Appeal.

The Court analysed the evidence brought before it. The Plaintiffs explained that they were employees of the Defendant company. Their employment was being terminated, and they were paid for the months they worked, except for September 2014. Their jobs were terminated because of collective redundancy. They were assured that they would be paid in full. They received an email in August 2014 stating that all their salaries would be paid according to law. Djafari, in his affidavit, explained that the company’s financial problems became apparent when in June 2014, they did not receive their salaries. The explanation was given at first that there was a problem with the payroll system. The Director of the Defendant company had a skype call with Djafari in October 2014 and received assurance that he would be paid. He further explained a complaint with the Department of Industry and Employment Relations by several TRC employees. Inadvertently his claim was not included in the proceedings DIER had instituted.

Another Plaintiff, Brian Glass, explained that there was an email exchange with the company’s lawyers, to whom he passed on his bank details. He further explained that he was owed wages from June to September but was paid for everything apart for September 2014.

Jasmin Bonshor, another plaintiff, explained that she did work in September 2014 but was not paid, irrespective of the fact that top management assured her of payment in full.    

A Director of the company testified that the company fell into financial difficulties, irrespective of the fact that it had won cases against the investor of the company. This judgement were not enforced. The Director claimed to have co-operated with DIER and made payments to the Plaintiffs.

The Court explained the legal position of the case. The pleas of prescriptions were rejected in preliminary judgements. The second plea of the company concerned the merits of the claim. The Court concluded that the company is not stating that the amounts are not due. The Court, therefore, must examine the evidence to see whether the claim is true. In Joseph Tonna -v- Philip Azzopardi, decided on 12 April 2007 by the Court of Appeal, states that the onus of proof is on the Parties. The plaintiff must prove its claim, while the defendant has to prove that the claim is non-existent. On the other hand, the Plaintiffs were successful in proving their claim. The Defendant company did take a passive stance as it failed to produce evidence to rebut these claims and that their salaries were paid.

The Court then moved to dismiss the Defendant Company’s pleas and upheld the Plaintiffs’  claims.

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