The Court of Appeal (CoA) has finally awarded the former Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS), Dorosday Kenneth Watson, VT26,626,579 for unjustified termination on August 18, 2023, after her appeal was granted.

Initially, Mrs. Watson’s claim of VT34, 102, 451 was granted by the Supreme Court.

In its final decision, the Court of Appeal said that the multiplier applied to the calculation of the additional severance under section 56 (4) is reduced from 4 to 2 and the balance of judgment and award of damages remains in force unchanged.

“There is no suggestion that the awards were mathematically incorrect and so the only change to be made to the table setting out of the total relief awarded is to reduce VT34, 102, 451 to VT26, 626,579. As the costs, the appellant failed on all the ground of appeal. The principal challenge was to the finding of unjustified termination. In the circumstances, we order that the costs of and incidental to the appeal be awarded to the respondent, to be agreed or taxed,” the CoA ruled.

Mrs. Watson was terminated as DG of the ministry during the Bob Loughman-led Government in March 2021 when she challenged the decision of Council of Ministers (COM) to restructure the MoJCS and replace it with the Ministry of Fisheries, Ocean and Maritime Affairs.

Mrs. Watson made an application to court for a Judicial Review with two orders, which were that the declaration made by the COM was in breach of the Government Act and an order to quash the COM decision.

Her legal counsel, Mark Hurley, said his client is entitled to file claims against the Public Service Commission (PSC) on the basis of unjustified termination. Mrs. Watson’s claims were based on contractual entitlement and the Employment Act.

Before her termination by the PSC under the chairmanship of Simil Johnson, she was suspended by the then Minister of Justice, Esmon Saimon.

She started work in the Public Service in 1987. She was appointed in various senior positions within the government such as Director of Women’s Affairs, Director of Department of Agriculture, Director of Fisheries and she became the DG of the MoJCS on 15th November 2021.

In this appeal case, the appellant is the Republic of Vanuatu, and the respondent is Mrs. Watson.