Former Ashford Castle concierge fails in bid to overturn Labour Court decision on dismissal

High Court judge Mr Justice Max Barrett penned a letter to the former concierge David McCormack explaining his decision, which he attached to his 10-page judgment
Former Ashford Castle concierge fails in bid to overturn Labour Court decision on dismissal

High Court reporters

A former concierge at the five-star luxury Ashford Castle has failed in his bid to have the High Court overturn a Labour Court decision that his dismissal after he was off sick for three years was fair.

And High Court judge Mr Justice Max Barrett penned a letter to the former concierge David McCormack explaining his decision, which he attached to his 10-page judgment.

In the letter with the title "What Does This Judgement Mean For You", Mr Justice Barrett said he had in the previous pages set out in “lawyer’s language” what he had decided to do in the proceedings.

“I am always concerned that an employee should be told in plain language what I have decided in a judgement that affects them. That is why I have added this 'plain English' note to you. Everyone else in the case will get to read it, but really it is written for you,” the judge said.

He added: “The lawyers for Ashford Castle are well-used to legal language and so will be well able to understand my judgement without any need for ‘translation’ into plain English.”

Point of law

The judge stressed the note is not a substitute for the detailed text of the judgment, but seeks to help Mr McCormack who represented himself in the proceedings understand what was decided in his appeal.

The letter continued: “I am afraid that I do not see that you have ever identified a point of law on which to ground a successful appeal.”

The judge said he had gone through the papers and sought to filter from them such points of law as he could, but having done so, he did not see any errors to have been made by the Labour Court in the case.

“There was in fact substantial evidence supporting the findings of fact made by the Labour Court. There is therefore no basis on which I could or will overturn the Labour Court determination,” the judge said.

He added:” I am sorry that you appear to continue to suffer from ill health and wish you every good fortune in the future.”

The judge signed off Max Barrett (Judge).

Fairly dismissed

The Labour Court had last year upheld a Workplace Relations Commission decision that Mr McCormack had been fairly dismissed.

In a determination Labour Court Deputy Chairman, Louise O’Donnell threw out the unfair dismissal claim by David McCormack against the luxury hotel firm.

Employed at the hotel since 2003 and promoted to the role of concierge in 2011, Mr McCormack went out sick on the November 5th, 2014, and remained absent from work on sick leave until his dismissal on October 4th, 2017.

In the Labour Court’s findings, Ms O’Donnell found that Ashford Castle Ltd honestly believed that Mr McCormack “was incapable of carrying out the work he was employed to do as a result of his ill health”.

The decision by the Labour Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which found that Mr McCormack's complaint of unfair dismissal not well-founded.

In his judgment Mr Justice Max Barrett said there was nothing in the Labour Court determination or the other evidence before the court which suggests, let alone establishes that it was anything other than fair and appropriate for the Labour Court to reach the decision it did.

Mr McCormack he said has the sympathy of the court that he found himself dismissed as he was, but there is nothing in the evidence before the court which establishes on the balance of probabilities, that there were any errors of law made by the Labour Court in this case, the judge said.

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