NATIONAL UNION OF TEXTILE, GARMENT AND TAILORING WORKERS OF NIGERIA AND ATLANTIC TEXTILE MANUFACTURING COMPANY LIMITED H ON. JUSTICE (CHIEF) P.A. ATILADE PRESIDENT DR O.I. ODUMOSU MEMBER S.O. KOKU,ESQ. MEMBER DR. E. C. IWUJI MEMBER ALHAJI Z.M. BELLO MEMBER SUIT NO: NIC/3/79 DATE OF JUDGEMENT MONDAY, 1STJUNE, 1981 LABOUR LAW Industrial Arbitration Panel - Whether can constitute two different tribunals to deal with the same dispute - Where it does so - Propriety of- Effect on award. LABOUR LAW National Industrial Court - Order of a court of competent jurisdiction - Duty on to take judicial notice of LABOUR LAW National Industrial Court - Reference of dispute -Essential prerequisite therefor - Power of Commissioner for Labour to refer a dispute to the court - Whether can refer a dispute where he has not received from either party objection to the Award of the Industrial Arbitration Panel. LABOURLAW National Industrial Court - Power thereof- Power of to compel production before it of books, papers, documents etc in order to obtain information relevant to any matter referred to it. ISSUE: Whether the case was properly before the court or was properly submitted to it by the Commissioner for Labour. FACTS: There was a dispute between the Respondent and its workers' union, which was part of the Appellant. The dispute between the parties was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) with two terms of reference, namely: illegal lockout of workers, and; wrongful dismissal of locked-out workers. The IAP made its Award which also confirmed its earlier interim order issued on 27lh July 1977. However, by letter No IAP/Hb/3101/SEC/8 dated 29th January 1979, the Chairman of the IAP amended item (i) of its Award concerning the interim order. Subsequently, the Commissioner for Labour by a letter dated 17lh April, 1979 referred the dispute to the National Industrial Court. Altogether ten witnesses testified during the hearing, three for the first party and five for the second party, and two others at the instance of the court. Counsel for both parties thereafter addressed the court during which process they brought to light very important and vital arguments on point of law concerning the validity of the instrument of reference of the dispute to the Court issued by the Commissioner for Labour under section 10(1) of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976. In his address, counsel for the second party stated that section 10(1) of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976, gave the Commissioner the power to refer to the court an award of the IAP to which either of the parties has objection. Without an award and an objection, the Commissioner cannot refer an award to the court, as he will be acting outside the enabling law if he does so. In this case, there was no evidence that the Commissioner for Labour conveyed the amended Award to the parties before the reference of the dispute to the National Industria". Court under the instrument dated 17th April, 1979, or that either of the parties objected to the amended award. Moreover, there was a prerogative order of the High Court quashing the proceedings before the IAP. Counsel then submitted that under the circumstances, it was ultra vires the Commissioner for Labour to have referred the dispute to the Court. In his reply, counsel for the first party argued that there was no evidence before the court or. which it could decide that the reference was ultra vires. HELD: (Striking out the reference) 1. On Essential prerequisite for reference of a dispute to the National Industrial Court - The Commissioner for Labour has no power to refer a dispute to the National Industrial Court under section 10(1) of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976 where he has not received any objection to the Award of the IAP from either party, which is the essential prerequisite for taking such an action. 2. On Whether competent for the Industrial Arbitration Panel to constitute two different tribunals to deal with the same dispute - It constitutes flagrant disregard of the provisions of section 7 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976 by the Industrial Arbitration Panel to constitute two different tribunals to deal with the same dispute. Such a glaring contravention of the procedure prescribed in the Act itself rendered the whole IAP Award null and void in this case. 3. On Power of court to compel production before it of books, papers, documents, etc.- Under section 26 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1976, the National Industrial Court has power to compel the production before it, of books, papers, documents and other things in order to obtain information relevant to any matter referred to it. 4. On Duty on court to take judicial notice of order of a court of competent jurisdiction - The court is bound to take judicial notice of the existence of the prerogative order of : certiorari issued by a Judge of a court of competent jurisdiction.