Australia: MDC Legal win for employer against large bonus claims

Last Updated: 23 November 2016
Article by Ruth Collins

MDC Legal successfully defended an employer against an employee's claims for unpaid visa expenses and bonuses exceeding $200,000.1 The case highlights the importance for employers of having clear, unambiguous employment contracts and bonus schemes in place. Generally, the employer would be wise to state clearly that it reserves a discretion with respect to bonuses. It highlights the importance of claimants getting proper advice on their claims before embarking on costly litigation.


Mr Bradley was employed Binder Group as their WA Industrial Sales Manager and later as its National Sales Manager.

After resigning, Mr Bradley sued Binder in the WA Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) alleging that he was owed contractual benefits of $8,043 in costs associated with Mr Bradley and his family obtaining permanent residency in Australia and three lots of bonuses totalling $213,038.88 for the three financial years 2011/2012 to 2013/2014.

All of Mr Bradley's claims were rejected by the Commission.

Permanent Residency

The Commission found that Binder had agreed to take over Mr Bradley 457 visa while he qualified for permanent residence, but rejected his claim that it was an oral term of his contract that Binder Group would pay the expenses of his application for permanent residency.

The Commission noted that it was "surprising to say the least" that Mr Bradley did not confirm the alleged agreement with Binder Group in writing given Mr Bradley's assertion that "the payment of costs for his permanent residency was so important to him."

Bonus Payment for the 2011/2012 Financial Year

Mr Bradley argued that he was entitled to a total payment of $121,604.44 for the 2011/2012 financial year under a bonus scheme provided via email. After he made demands during his employment he received a $40,000, given Binder said as a compromise settlement. But Mr Bradley argued that he was entitled to the balance of $81,604.44.

Binder Group said he had no such entitlement, arguing that there was no consideration to support the scheme and that scheme was also void for uncertainty. Finally, Binder argued the bonus scheme was discretionary. Binder Group also argued that the $40,000 payment to Mr Bradley was in full settlement and satisfaction of his bonus claim.

The Commission found for Binder on each of these defences but held here was consideration to support the bonus scheme, in the form or Mr Bradley working to achieve those bonus payments. Further, the Commission said in relation to the payment of $40,000 if Mr Bradley did not accept the payment in full and final settlement of his claim, he was obliged to tell Binder Group that.

Bonus Payment for the 2012/2013 Financial Year

Mr Bradley claimed that he was entitled to a bonus of $98,934.55 for the 2012/2013 financial year in his new position of National Sales Manager. He relied on a clause in his new contract that said a performance bonus would be provided separately. That clause also said it was subject to the Managing Director's discretion. No new scheme was provided. Mr Bradley contended that in the absence of an agreed bonus scheme, the parties were bound by the 2011/2012 bonus scheme.

Binder Group argued that by not implementing a new scheme it had exercised its discretion not to make any bonus payments. Further, Binder Group contended that the scheme was "so uncertain and so dependent on the initiatives and discretion of one party" that it did not create an enforceable obligation.

The Commission agreed with Binder Group that the terms of the previous bonus scheme would not "simply carry over" as an implied term to the new agreement, and that the terms of the bonus scheme were "uncertain, illusory and unenforceable".

Bonus Payment for 2013/2014 Financial Year

Mr Bradley argued that he was entitled to $32,500 under a new bonus scheme for the 2013/2014 financial year. Under that scheme Mr Bradley would receive a bonus if Binder Group achieved its overall budget and if each branch achieved its individual budget.

The national budget was achieved, but the Victorian branch did not make its individual budget.

Mr Bradley argued that the terms of the scheme had been varied by oral agreement to exclude the Victorian branch from the scheme.

The Commission again rejected Mr Bradley's claims that there was an oral variation, and agreed with Binder Group that the terms of the bonus scheme were "clear and unambiguous." Accordingly, the scheme made it "crystal clear" that both overall group targets and branch targets were conditions that needed to be met before a bonus was payable. As the Victorian branch had not met its profit target, the preconditions for Mr Bradley's bonus had not been triggered.

Mr Bradley's case was dismissed.


1 Bradley v Binder Group Pty Ltd [2016] WAIRC 00731

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ruth Collins
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions