Attwood Marshall have recently finalised a highly litigious employment dispute between Stratton Finance Pty Ltd and a former employee. Stratton Finance is the largest car finance broker in Australia, who in 2014 joined the Car Sales network with carsales.com.au purchasing a majority share of the company for a reported $60.1million. Stratton Finance failed to pay commissions and entitlements to the employee in accordance with the employment agreement.
Mr Webb, the finance consultant, was employed by Stratton Finance Pty Ltd between the period of 2006 to 2012. During this period, Mr Webb was not paid for any sick leave, annual leave or public holidays, nor did he receive superannuation on any commissions earned during that period.
Mr Webb initially complained of his unpaid entitlements to Fair Work Australia and despite Fair Work Australia making a direction to the finance broker to pay the sum of money, Mr Webb had no alternative but to commence proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court in New South Wales.
After the production of commission statements to Mr Webb revealed an underpayment of commissions, the Application was amended to include not only a claim for the payment of entitlements, but also payment of unpaid commissions (which included claw-backs).
The Friday before the hearing, Stratton Finance conceded that it had failed to pay Mr Webb his entitlements owed but maintained its dispute with Mr Webb’s unpaid commissions claim.
On 2 April 2014, his Honour Judge Raphael delivered judgment in favour of Mr Webb for the unpaid entitlements as well as superannuation and on 9 May 2014, awarded a sum of penalties payable by Stratton Finance for various breaches of the relevant legislation, to be paid directly to Mr Webb. Mr Webb was also awarded indemnity costs.
Stratton Finance appealed this decision to the Full Federal Court of Appeal in NSW. Mr Webb pursued his claim against Stratton Finance by way of a Cross-Appeal for the unpaid commissions including claw-backs.
On 1 December 2014, Mr Webb was awarded unpaid commissions (including claw-backs), plus superannuation, penalties (which were recalculated from the trial judgment), interest and costs of the cross-appeal as well as one half of his costs of the appeal.
Stratton Finance applied to the High Court of Australia for Special Leave to Appeal. The application was dismissed on 6 May 2015 with costs in favour of Mr Webb.
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