Former R&F players who have raised a Labour Tribunal dispute with the club over salary arrears won a small victory on Tuesday after the officer presiding over the case rubbished R&F’s defence.
On Tuesday, the 26th, the first Labour Tribunal hearing took place between R&F and nine of their former players. The players have lodged a complaint with the Tribunal after the club refused to pay the players the remainder of their salaries after the club folded ahead of the 2020-21 Premier League season.
The hearing, which was supposed to have occurred within a month of the players’ filing in mid-November, as per Tribunal rules, was delayed until today. According to lawyers from Hugill & Ip, the law firm representing the players, the Deputy Presiding Officer overseeing the case stated that the terms of the players’ contracts were clear cut and did not understand R&F’s opposition to paying out the remainder of the contracts.
The players are arguing that despite the club’s decision to withdraw, they remain on fixed term contracts with the club, ranging from eight to 24 months remaining. They contend that they are due the remaining balance of their salaries as they club have yet to issue a notice of termination, which must then be followed with full payment within seven days.
R&F’s representatives at the hearing countered by saying that to pay the players would be in violation of the spirit of the contract, implying that the contracts are gentleman’s agreements which can be unilaterally terminated.
Although previous reports indicated that 12 players would be jointly represented by Hugill & Ip, it was revealed on Tuesday that only nine players were listed as claimants. These players are Fung Hing-wa, Yip Ka-yu, Tse Ka-wing, Roberto, Dudu, Sean Tse, Vas Nunez, Matt Lam and Jared Lum.
In mid-November, Lum told the South China Morning Post that the players “all want as much as (they) can get from the club.” After Tuesday’s hearing, the players said through their lawyers that they were “optimistic” about recovering the full amounts owed to them.
In addition to seeking help from the Tribunal, the players have also contacted the Labour Department. It is believed that the Department are investigating whether R&F’s directors should be held criminally responsible for their refusal to pay the players.
The case has been adjourned until the next hearing scheduled for 16 August. The Deputy Presiding Officer has asked both sides to submit statements and other evidence to the Tribunal.