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This is an appeal from the decision of the High Court dismissing the Appellant’s preliminary objection. The Respondent was employed as a Bank Clerk on the 1st of December, 1987. He rose through the ranks to the position of Executive Director in charge of Corporate Banking, which position he held until his services were terminated by the Appellant on 10th December, 2010. After the termination of his employment, the Respondent brought an action against the Appellant and the Bank of Zambia, in the Industrial Relations Court, for wrongful termination of employment.
After hearing the matter, the Industrial Relations Court found in favour of the Respondent. The Appellant and the Bank of Zambia were unhappy with the decision of the Industrial Relations Court. Therefore, they appealed to this Court. On the 15th of August, 2012, the Respondent filed a cross appeal for variation of the Judgment by the Industrial Relations Court. However, before the appeal and cross appeal could be heard, the parties entered into a consent judgement.
On the 8th of April, 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed the cross appeal on grounds that the consent Judgment determined all the issues in contention. On the 21st of October, 2014, the Respondent took out an action in the High Court claiming, inter alia, damages for breach of contract and for conversion of his benefits. On the 19th of November, 2014, the Appellant took out summons to dismiss action on grounds of res judicata. The application was supported by an affidavit. The Respondent also filed an affidavit in opposition. The main argument by the Appellant was that the current claim for pension benefits was determined in the Industrial Relations Court. The Respondent on the other hand, argued that the claim did not cover pension benefits because the Respondent only became aware of the pension benefits after the Supreme Court determined the case of Michael Kahula v Finance Bank in which the formula for payment of pension benefits was prescribed after noting the Appellant's failure to devise a formula.
1. Res Judicata means a matter that has been adjudicated upon. It is a matter that has been heard and determined between the same parties. The principle of Res judicata states that once a matter has been heard between the same parties, by a Court of any competent jurisdiction, the same matter should not be reopened.
2. Multiplicity of actions refers to commencement of more than one action on the same facts or transaction. Piece meal litigation is the same as multiplicity of action; it is litigation that is split and instituted in chapters.
3. A party in dispute with another over a particular subject should not be allowed to deploy his grievances piece meal in scattered litigation and keep on hauling the same opponent, over the same matter before various courts.
4. The Consent Order barred and estopped the Respondent from re-litigating on all benefits arising from termination of his contract of employment with the bank.