Mathematical Judgment: Industrial Court Rules 1.00 of Base Salary is 100%

Hon. Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of the National Industrial Court, Portharcourt Judicial division has declared that 1.00 of an amount means one (1) whole number and not a fraction (1/x); and when converted into per cent, it means 100% and not 1%.

The Judge expressed that “the mathematical issue presented for adjudication has once again provided justification for requiring performance in mathematics as a qualifying subject to study law in Nigerian Universities, contrary to the erroneously held belief in some ill-informed quarters that those who opt to study law are bereft of mathematical and scientific abilities.”

The Claimant- Mr. Francis Odeh contended that contrary to the provision of the offer letter of his employment, in settling his entitlement after resignation, that the Defendant- Gasstocks limited unilaterally interpreted 1.00 as 1% instead of one whole number as 100%, being terms of the employment that the erroneous calculation and interpretation of 1.00 as 1% and has short paid his entitlement to the tune of N6, 183, 333, 32 urged the court to resolve the issue in his favour.

In opposition, learned Defendant’s counsel pointed that the entitlements that were subject to interpretation are the 13th month, vacation, and travel allowance each year. Counsel contended that the Defendant has been paying the Claimant their own version of what the 1.00 means.

After reviewing submissions of both counsel and processes filed and exchanged, the trial Judge His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ogbuanya stated thus:

“To my mind, an elucidated outcome of the judicial interpretation of the issue of application of ‘1.00 to base salary (monthly /annually) and 13th month’, as expressed in exh.OJ1, would provide an aid to answer the legal questions posed in the Originating Summons and the reliefs sought thereto.

“A cursory review of the expression ‘1.00 of base salary (monthly/Annual) and 13th month’ would appear as mundane arithmetical computation occurring in everyday commercial and professional activities, but it has proved otherwise, posing a sharply divided outcome of the supposed entitlement.

 

“Accordingly, in my considered view, 1.00 of an amount means one (1) whole number and not a fraction (1/x); and when converted into per cent, it means 100%, and not 1%. And 13th Month as so expressed in exh.OJ1 means, an Additional Month of equivalent value in sum with every other month of the 12 months of a year. Thus, as this is a mathematical issue, I hold that ‘1.00 of base salary’ means 100% and not 1%.

“Applying this interpretation would entail that: The expression 1.00 of Monthly Base Salary is N100, 000.00, which is for 13th month; where monthly salary is N100, 000.00. The expression 1.00 of Annual Base Salary is N1, 200,000.00; where monthly salary is N100, 000.00 x 12 months. I so hold.”

The Court directed the firm to apply 1.00 to mean 100% in calculating the entitlements of the Claimant, being what is contained in the terms and conditions attached to the offer letter dated 30th October, 2012, and awarded the sum of N300, 000.00 (three hundred thousand naira)as general damages for breach of the employment contract.

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