ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 21 OF 2004
SHOPPERS PHARMACY LIMITED
The Hon. Mr. Michael Gordon, QC Justice of Appeal
The Hon. Mr. Denys Barrow, SC Justice of Appeal
The Hon. Mr. Hugh A. Rawlins Justice of Appeal
Mr. William Archibald, with him Ms. Rhodette Brown for the Appellant
Mr. Jason Martin for the Respondent
2006: July 18;
2007 January 15
 RAWLINS, J.A.: This appeal is against a decision in which the Industrial Court
held, by a majority,1 that the appellant, Shoppers Pharmacy, unfairly dismissed the
respondent, Mr. Jarvis, summarily. That Court consequently awarded Mr. Jarvis
$22,500.00 as salary for the balance of his contract period and $288.46 for
vacation pay; a total of $22,788.46 compensation.
1 Hon. Edward T. Henry and Hon. Hubert Hood, Hon. Cyril Maundy dissenting.
 Shoppers Pharmacy appealed on the grounds that the Industrial Court erred when
it did not find that the summary termination of the services of Mr. Jarvis was a fair
dismissal because he had terminated his contract of employment by repudiation or
by anticipatory breach. These are the grounds on which the appeal was
canvassed during the first hearing in July 2006. However, this Court subsequently
requested the parties to submit further written submissions on the issue whether
the contract or contracts on which the litigation was based was void for
uncertainty. The case came up for mention during the sitting of this Court in
Antigua and Barbuda in November 2006.
 The issues raised by this appeal will be considered against the factual
background. However, I think that it would be helpful at this juncture to set out the
relevant legal principles that relate to uncertainty in contracts.
Relevant principles on uncertainty
 At common law, it is trite principle that if the terms of an agreement are so vague
or indefinite that the intention of the parties cannot be determined with reasonable
certainty the parties have not entered into a contract. There would be no legally
enforceable contract between them. A court will usually assume that the parties
intend to create legal relations and will strive to give effect and efficacy to their
agreements.2 However, the court will not make a contract for the parties where
none exists or go outside of the words that they have used, except in so far as
there are appropriate implications of law.3
 It is noteworthy that Lord Dunedin, LC stated, in May and Butcher Ltd. v The
King,4 that a concluded contract is one which settles everything and leaves
nothing to be agreed between the parties, although it may leave matters to be
2 See Rose and Frank Co. v J. R. Crompton & Bros. Ltd.  2 KB 261.
3 See Hillas & Co. Ltd. v Arcos Ltd.  All E. R. 494.
4  2 KB 17n, at page 21.
determined which do not depend upon their agreement. In that case the House of
Lords held that an agreement for the sale of tentage was incomplete because it
provided that the price, the dates of payment and the manner of delivery should be
agreed from time to time. The important consideration in that case, however, was
that the parties expressly left these vital matters subject to their further agreement
but had not agreed on them. These words indicated that they did not intend to be
bound until these matters were further settled by their agreement.5
 On the other hand, where a term is left open to be agreed and it can be inferred
that the parties nevertheless intended to be bound immediately, a court may find
that there is a binding contract.6 Thus in Foley v Classique Coaches Ltd.,7 the
parties entered into an agreement for the purchase of petrol “at a price that was to
be agreed from time to time”. That Court distinguished May & Butcher on the
ground, inter alia, that the parties believed and intended the agreement to be
complete and binding because they had acted upon it over a period of time.
 Mr. Martin, learned counsel for Mr. Jarvis submitted that, in Antigua and Barbuda,
a contract of employment must contain certain fundamental terms. In this regard
he said that statutorily, section C5 of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code8
represents the minimum standard that there must be in such a contract. The
section provides that an employer shall within 10 days of employing a person give
to the employee a written statement that sets out the employee’s general
responsibilities and related duties; the regular hours of work and rest periods; the
starting pay and the method for calculating it; the length of the employment, if it is
not indefinite; the period of probation, if necessary; the employee’s leave and
vacation privileges and the employee’s obligations with respect to trade unions. In
my view, however, this provision is meant to address a post contractual obligation
on the part of employers.
5 See “The Gladys  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 402. It appears that had the agreement been silent on these points
the court could have resolved them by the standard of reasonableness.
6 See Pagnan S.P.A. v Freed Products Ltd.  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 601.
7  2 KB 1.
8 Cap. 27 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda, Revised Edition 1992, hereinafter referred to as “the Code”.
 There is no indication that the written statement provided for in section C5 of the
Code was prepared in this case. However, while such a statement would be
evidence of the terms of a contract of employment and is no doubt intended to
create certainty in such contracts, in my view the provisions of section C5 throw no
light upon the issue of certainty of contract in the present case.
 The background facts in the present case would be a helpful precursor to a
determination of the issues.
 Mr. Jarvis is a registered Pharmacist. He was employed as an Immigration
Officer, but worked as a part-time Pharmacist for Shoppers Pharmacy from 1st
February 2001. The parties entered a written agreement on 1st June 2001. The
agreement expressly stated that Mr. Jarvis was employed from Monday 19th
February 2001 for a period of 1 year. Under the agreement, Shoppers Pharmacy
agreed to employ Mr. Jarvis on a full-time basis and to pay him $2,500.00 for the
first 6 months. That salary was to be reviewed “for the purpose of granting an
increase of an additional $100.00 monthly which would yield a total of $2,600.00
payable for the remaining six months period as salary”. Mr. Jarvis was entitled to
2 weeks annual vacation.
 In return, Mr. Jarvis agreed to work as a full-time Pharmacist for Shoppers
Pharmacy. He also agreed to undertake all obligations that related to the
profession of a licensed Pharmacist in accordance with the law and to provide
superior quality service to customers, in order to maintain high standards and in
keeping with the company’s reputation. The agreement stated that all other
exceptions and requirements not expressed in the agreement should be mutually
agreed by the parties. During the tenure of his full-time employment, Mr. Jarvis’
hours of work were set out in a schedule which was prepared on a monthly basis
as agreed to between him and Shoppers Pharmacy.
 On 28th August 2001, Colleen Samuel, who was involved in setting up the
Pharmacy, returned to work at Shoppers Pharmacy as the Chief Pharmacist after
a 3 month course in Jamaica. Prior to her return, Mr. Jarvis had participated in
preparing his own work schedule. On her return, however, Ms. Samuel discarded
it and prepared a new schedule. The new schedule conflicted with Mr. Jarvis’
work schedule at the Immigration Department. He asked to be employed parttime.
Shoppers Pharmacy agreed. Ms. Samuel prepared a part-time schedule
which would have been subject to change every month. Mr. Jarvis found that
schedule inconvenient. He asked Romaneta Francis, the Managing Director of
Shoppers Pharmacy, to intervene to settle the schedule. She did not intervene.
Ms. Francis’ evidence is that Mr. Jarvis walked away and did not report to work on
the following day, 29th August 2001, but returned on 30th August 2001 when he
was given a dismissal letter.
 The letter was dated 29th August 2001 and signed by Ms. Francis. It stated:
“Dear Mr. Jarvis:
Further to our communication at the meeting of Tuesday 28th August,
2001, I have reviewed the various problems pertaining to your hours of
work. Furthermore, I have become concerned about the priority your
other job (Immigration full-time) will take over my work here at the
Already, I have experienced your having to take hours off to clear
shipments entering the harbour as well as occasional time off to run
certain errands from time to time.
This pattern of work that has become part of your agenda as an
employee within the first three months of full time employment would
suggest serious problem (sic) for business from now onwards. As a
result, I am choosing not to go any further with your employment, than the
three months probationary period as required by the Labour Code.
Thank you very much for working at Shoppers Pharmacy.”
Ms. Romaneta Francis”.
Ms. Francis wrote this letter on the advice of a friend who is a Solicitor. He led her
to believe that Mr. Jarvis was employed with a 3 months probationary period and
could therefore have been summarily dismissed within that period, without notice.
 In his evidence in chief, Mr. Jarvis said that when the work scheduling dispute was
not resolved on 28th August 2001, he continued to work his shift and returned to
work on 29th August 2001 when he was given the termination letter. This was a
question of fact and the majority of the Industrial Court believed Mr. Jarvis when
they stated9 that Mr. Jarvis returned to work on 29th August 2001. Had they
accepted Ms. Francis’ version, this could have led to the conclusion that Mr. Jarvis
abandoned his job.
 Quite wisely, neither before this Court nor before the Industrial Court did Mr.
Archibald, learned counsel for Shoppers Pharmacy, seek to rely upon fair
dismissal within the probationary period, although that was the reason expressly
stated for Mr. Jarvis’ dismissal in the termination letter. Mr. Jarvis was on a fixed
term contract, which had no provision for a probationary period. Neither section
C8 nor section C9 of the Code, which respectively provides for the length of such
a period, and entitles an employer to terminate employment summarily and without
reason, applied to Mr. Jarvis under his contract.
 Against this background, the first question is whether the Industrial Court erred by
failing to find that Mr. Jarvis had repudiated his contract of employment with
Was there repudiation?
 Section C7 of the Code re-affirms the common law principle that an employer and
employee may enter into individual contracts. This section however renders null
9 In the first paragraph of page 6 of their judgment.
and void 3 types of provisions in such an agreement,10 but none of these
exceptions existed to invalidate the agreement between the parties in this case.
 In his submissions, Mr. Archibald insisted that Mr. Jarvis repudiated his contract
when he said that he could not meet the work schedule set by Ms. Samuel and
asked for part-time employment instead. Mr. Archibald contended that when Mr.
Jarvis asked to work part-time, he thereby committed a fundamental breach of the
agreement because he entered into fresh negotiations with Shoppers Pharmacy.
Mr. Archibald submitted that Mr. Jarvis “abandoned” his contract when he
requested to work part-time on a contract which required him work full-time, left
the job and did not return until 30th August 2001.
 These submissions, with respect, are fallacious because when Mr. Jarvis asked
for a part-time schedule Shoppers Pharmacy agreed. They did not at that time tell
him that such a proposal amounted to a breach of a fundamental term, which
entitled them to repudiate the agreement. They did not then actually repudiate the
contract by accepting his breach. Rather, they accepted Mr. Jarvis’ proposal and
set about making a part-time schedule. They had thereby agreed to amend that
term in the agreement which stated that Mr. Jarvis was employed full-time, and
varied it to a term that he would work part-time. There was no act of repudiation
on the part of Mr. Jarvis. Ms. Francis expressly terminated Mr. Jarvis’ employment
in the mistaken belief that he was on probation, and this entitled her to terminate
him summarily, without notice. The appeal therefore fails on this ground.
Was there anticipatory breach?
 In relation to anticipatory breach, Mr. Archibald submitted that Mr. Jarvis’s
statement to Ms. Francis that he could not meet the new schedule, coupled with
10 These proscribed provisions are terms which establish conditions which fall below the minimum standards
established by the Code; terms which require the employee to refrain from associating for the purpose of
collective bargaining, or terms which conflict with a provision contained in a collective bargaining agreement
under which the employee is a beneficiary to the disadvantage of the employee.
his failure to report for work on the following day, 29th August 2001, conveyed his
intention of anticipatory breach of his employment contract. According to learned
Counsel, Mr. Jarvis thereby behaved in a manner which showed that he intended
to breach his contract. Therefore, said Mr. Archibald, no contract existed in law at
the time when he received the termination letter. On the other hand, before the
Industrial Court, learned Counsel for Mr. Jarvis submitted that there could have
been no anticipatory breach because Mr. Jarvis did not at any time decline or
express an intention not to perform his work pursuant to the contract, neither did
he indicate an intention not to resume his duties under the contract.
 The majority of the Industrial Court made the following statements in relation to
repudiation and anticipatory breach:
“In regard to the question as to whether or not Mr. Jarvis had repudiated
his contract, his hours of work were arbitrarily altered by the Chief
Pharmacist. On the return of Colleen Samuel further difficulties arose in
arriving at shift work in the Pharmacy that was acceptable to all. When
Mr. Jarvis allegedly turned off in disgust on the 28th August, 2001 at not
having reached a satisfactory settlement of the shift issue, it was
presumed that he had abandoned the job. The next day a letter was
drawn up in anticipation of him breaching the contract of employment
hence Counsel for the employer’s contention of an anticipatory breach of
contract. Having given some consideration to the matter, Jarvis returned
to work the next day and received the letter terminating his employment.
Anticipatory breach of any contract could only apply if Jarvis had
expressed a positive intention not to perform on the job. In anticipatory
breach the party claiming breach must have had no complicity in any
condition resulting in the breach. In other words neither party should
prevent the other from performing. The working hours of the employee
were unilaterally changed, contrary to the contract of employment, and
this started the chain of events. … The entire matter of anticipatory breach
was not in the letter of dismissal, and cannot be now allowed as a
legitimate reason for dismissal.”
 I have found that there was no repudiation that might validate Shoppers
Pharmacy’s summary dismissal of Mr. Jarvis. The majority of the Industrial Court
did not accept Ms. Francis’ evidence that Mr. Jarvis did not return to work on 29th
August 2001. When they accepted Mr. Jarvis evidence that he returned to work
on the 29th August 2001, the elements of anticipatory breach could not be
satisfied. The majority of that Court therefore correctly held that anticipatory
breach was not a vitiating ground for Mr. Jarvis’s summary dismissal. They
concluded that Mr. Jarvis did not abandon his employment. This was a matter of
fact which was in their purview to decide. They concluded, correctly in my view,
that there was no anticipatory breach. The appeal also fails on this ground.
 Mr. Archibald submitted that the original written agreement under which Mr. Jarvis
worked full-time was a validly constituted contract. According to Mr. Archibald,
that contract was brought to an end when Shoppers Pharmacy agreed to accept
Mr. Jarvis’ new offer that he should be permitted to work part-time. Mr. Jarvis’ new
offer amounted to a repudiation of the full-time contract. The terms of the contract
around which the new offer was to be based were never settled and the new
contract was therefore void for uncertainty and otherwise incomplete.
 Mr. Martin is basically in agreement with Mr. Archibald’s position on the issue of
uncertainty. He stated that the written agreement of 1st June 2001 was valid
because it contained the minimum terms provided in section C5 of the Code. He
then stated the following in relation to “the second agreement”:
“ … this agreement is clearly lacking in fundamental and definite terms
and is therefore unenforceable. The only term agreed was that the
Respondent would be working part-time. However this is extremely
imprecise in and of itself, as there is no agreement on what amount of
hours the Respondent would be working, and whether this in turn would
be suitable to the Appellant. Further and flowing from this there was no
agreement as to the calculation of the Respondent’s remuneration.”
 Mr. Martin pointed out that not only was the term part-time imprecise as far as it
concerned the number of hours which Mr. Jarvis was expected to work, but more,
there were no discussions as to his terms of employment, including vacation
privileges, and there was no performance by either party on it. Mr. Martin stated
that the new agreement was apparently embarked upon by Mr. Jarvis in a moment
of frustration in response to a unilateral change in his work schedule; and it is
silent on the remuneration that is to be paid for the part-time employment. Mr.
Martin concluded that the part-time contract, which was unwritten, was therefore
void for uncertainty.
 I agree that the contract into which the parties entered on 1st June 2001 was not
void for uncertainty notwithstanding that it did not specify Mr. Jarvis’ exact hours of
work. It was a written contract signed by the parties. It stated that his work was
full-time. Mrs. Francis stated in her evidence that this meant that he was to work
for 40 hours per week. The parties agreed from time to time on the actual monthly
work schedule. They agreed on the other fundamental terms of the agreement.
The consideration and the commencement date were stated. The contract was for
a definite duration of 1 year. It contained his job title. The work which he
promised to perform was defined. Importantly, the intention of the parties to be
bound by the agreement is evidenced in the fact that they acted upon it over a
period of time until Ms. Samuel returned.
 I am inclined to think that Mr. Jarvis’ decision to seek to work part-time and
Shoppers acceptance indicated that the parties were in the process of negotiating
what might have amounted to a variation of the original contract. Had the parties
specifically preserved the original agreement this would have been put beyond
doubt. It is really a question of intention. The evidence indicates that the parties
were mainly concerned with scheduling the hours that Mr. Jarvis was to work.
There was no action which constituted a termination or repudiation of the original
contract. However, whether I am correct in this view or whether, on the other
hand, the original contract was at an end and the interests of the parties depended
upon them entering into a new contract, it is clear that no valid or completed
contract existed after Shoppers Pharmacy accepted Mr. Jarvis’ proposal to work
 If the parties only intended to vary the original contract of employment, the term
part-time work is imprecise in the first place. Secondly, even if they intended to
vary the original contract so that the only term with which they were concerned
related to the work schedule, there was no agreement on this. Additionally, the
parties did not agree on the level of remuneration for the part-time work. There
was no performance under the varied agreement which could assist in the
resolution of these uncertainties. In this scenario, the agreement was void for
uncertainty. If, on the other hand, by the intention of the parties the original
agreement was at an end, the only term on which they agreed for the purpose of a
new contract was that Mr. Jarvis would work part-time. There would have been no
enforceable contract between them. The result is that Mr. Jarvis could not claim
compensation for wrongful dismissal against Shoppers Pharmacy. The majority of
the Industrial Court therefore erred when they awarded Mr. Jarvis $22,500.00
compensation for wrongful dismissal.
 In the foregoing premises, I would allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the
Industrial Court and make no award as to costs since no special circumstances
arise to warrant it under section 10(2) of the Industrial Court Act.11
Hugh A. Rawlins
Justice of Appeal
Michael Gordon, QC
Justice of Appeal
Denys Barrow, SC
Justice of Appeal
11 Cap. 214 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda, Revised Edition, 1992.