How can I recover my back wages?

| 09/07/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

I have a somewhat troublesome issue. I have won a judgement against a Cayman company for unpaid salaries and unfair dismissal way back in 2014, for a substantial amount of money. I have a letter signed by the managing director in 2016 stating that he would take personal liability for the debt, provided I give him some time to pay. I have allowed three years to pass since my last correspondence with him and now do not know where to go from here. This director is now very ill and I do not wish to cause him or his family any further grief; however, I do still want to be paid what is due to me. I am wondering what my options are now.

I have paid all of my legal fees, which also means I am out of pocket for that as well. Is there a statute of limitations on such cases here? Why are company directors not held personally accountable for salaries and do you know whether Cayman is looking at doing something about this in the near future?

Auntie’s answer: I am sorry to hear of your protracted efforts to get what you are legally owed, and also give you a lot of credit for your compassion in not wanting to bother someone who is now ill. (In following up with the reader, he also explained that letters he sent to try to resolve the issue have not been answered.)

Unfortunately, after reaching out to the Department of Labour and Pensions, the General Registry and the Judicial Administration, it seems all roads lead to consulting a lawyer to determine what course of action is available to you to enforce the judgement you won back in 2014. I know that you have already incurred legal fees but I am also not sure what work a lawyer has previously done on your behalf.

As for the five years that have passed since you first won your judgement, with the usual caveat that I am not a lawyer, it seems that under Section 30 of the Limitation Law (1996 Revision), you may only have one more year to pursue your case.

A lawyer may also be able to advise if the letter from the aforementioned managing director is legally enforceable, as well as what options would be open (or closed) to you if he dies.

I understand your reluctance to upset your former employer and his family, but you will have to take some action to try to recoup what is owed to you. Considering you are out of pocket with previous legal fees, if you cannot afford a lawyer, I would recommend you start by seeking free advice through the Legal Befrienders service offered through the Family Resource Centre.

I also suggest that you ask the lawyer for advice on seeking mediation services. Since both sides in a mediation have to compromise, you will most likely not get the full amount owed you, but I would hope the process would not prove as contentious as a one-sided legal action.

And as to getting an answer to the final part of your question, on the practicality of changing the law to make company directors liable for any debts, I have been informed the query has been sent to the Ministry of Commerce for a response. If I ever hear back about that, I will let you know.

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A disgusting scenario brought about by an abject failure of the authorities running everything from labour to business licensing. No accountability, just mounting victims.