Justice Kelly of the South Australian Supreme Court has awarded at least half a million dollars to Artcraft Pty Ltd, whose production manager was found to have breached his contract, his fiduciary duties and wrongfully converted his employer's property by selling it to a recycling firm for his personal profit.
Artcraft produces road signs and employed Benjamin Dickson in its Adelaide branch to manage the production of those signs. Dickson decided to sell the scrap metal by-products found at Artcraft's premises to Ferris Metal Recyclers and pocketed the proceeds for four years, which Artcraft was able to prove at trial. Justice Kelly found for Artcraft on all three claims against Dickson. Notably, Justice Kelly awarded exemplary damages in respect of the claim for conversion, calling it a "fraud of the most egregious kind". Justice Kelly also held that Dickson's wife had been an accessory to the fraud and was also ordered to pay $59, 800 to Artcraft.
The key takeaway for employers is that they should have confidence that courts will appropriately compensate employers for claims of dishonest conduct on the part of their employees, provided that sufficient evidence is gathered in respect of such misconduct.