A state company has failed in its bid to overturn a tribunal decision that awarded a former dockyard worker the set-off sum of €175 - plus interest - after considering two opposing allowance claims.

Resource Support and Services Ltd had filed proceedings before the Small Claims Tribunal seeking reimbursement of €3,573.51 plus interest, paid to Lawrence Attard Bezzina, a former dockyard worker transferred to its predecessor, Industrial Projects and Services Ltd (IPSL) back in 2003.

For the following 12 years, the employee had been seconded to various government departments, being assigned duties that fell beyond his civil service grade.

By virtue of an agreement signed in 2003, employees assigned duties above their grade were entitled to the difference in salary so as to be placed at par with fellow civil servants performing equal work.  

Attard Bezzina testified that he had been responsible for forking out millions of euro in EU funds, had represented Malta on several EU technical committees and had also served as the national contact point on various EU projects.

In 2011, as Scale 10 civil servant he had moved to the Law Courts where, as head of the revenue section, he ended up handling Scale 7 duties.

For this reason, a higher grade allowance was requested and duly green-lighted by the authorities. 

The employee also asked for a qualification allowance which, however, was denied as the company subsequently argued that Scale 7 employees were not entitled to such an allowance. 

Following his retirement in 2016, RSS Ltd sued Attard Bezzina for an overpaid sum, arguing that the higher grade allowance thad been paid in full rather than pro-rata, despite retiring in July. 

However, Attard Bezzina filed a counterclaim, arguing that during his term heading the revenue section at the Law Courts, he had not been paid his full share of allowances, thus claiming €3,749 from the company in turn.

In July 2020, a Small Claims Tribunal had upheld the claims of both parties, thus effectively allowing a set-off that tipped the scales in favour of Attard Bezzina for the balance of €175.49 plus interest. 

RSS Ltd filed an appeal arguing that the defendant’s claim was time-barred and that the tribunal had not duly considered all the evidence put forward by the company. 

But the court of appeal, presided over by Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff, threw out both arguments, confirming the tribunal’s judgment.

What the appellant insisted upon was not right and the fact that the tribunal’s decision might perhaps not have been to the company’s liking, did not mean that the tribunal had not considered all evidence put forward by the appellant, the court concluded, further ordering the appellant to pay the costs of the appeal.

Lawyer David Gatt assisted Attard Bezzina.

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