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The Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992

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The Northern Ireland Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members

71.—(1) The Department shall appoint an officer to be known as the Northern Ireland Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members (in this Order referred to as “the Commissioner”) whose function shall be to provide assistance to persons under Article 72.

(2) The provisions of Schedule 2 shall have effect with respect to the Commissioner.

(3) Neither the Commissioner nor any member of his staff shall, in his capacity as such, be regarded as a servant or agent of the Crown or as enjoying any status, immunity or privilege of the Crown.

Assistance by the Commissioner

72.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Article, where, in relation to any proceedings to which this Article applies, an individual who is an actual or prospective party to those proceedings applies to the Commissioner for assistance under this Article, the Commissioner shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the application, consider the application and decide whether and to what extent to grant it.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Commissioner, as soon as reasonably practicable after making any decision under paragraph (1)—

(a)if he has decided to provide assistance—

(i)to notify the applicant of his decision, stating the extent of the assistance to be provided; and

(ii)to give the applicant a choice, subject to any restrictions specified in the notification, as to the financial arrangements to be made in connection with the provision of the assistance; and

(b)if he has decided not to grant the application, to notify the applicant of the decision and, if he thinks fit, of the reasons for his decision.

(3) Assistance by the Commissioner under this Article may include—

(a)the making of arrangements for, or for the Commissioner to bear the costs of, the giving of any advice or assistance by a solicitor or counsel; and

(b)the making of arrangements for, or for the Commissioner to bear the costs of, the representation of the applicant or the provision to him of such assistance as is usually given by a solicitor or counsel in the steps preliminary or incidental to any proceedings, or in arriving at or giving effect to a compromise to avoid or bring an end to any proceedings;

but nothing in this Article shall affect the law and practice regulating the descriptions of persons who may appear in, conduct, defend and address the court in any proceedings.

(4) The matters to which the Commissioner may have regard in determining whether, and to what extent, to grant an application under this Article shall include, in particular—

(a)whether the case raises a question of principle;

(b)whether it is unreasonable, having regard to the complexity of the case, to expect the applicant to deal with the case unaided; and

(c)whether, in the opinion of the Commissioner, the case involves a matter of substantial public interest.

(5) Where—

(a)an application for assistance under this Article is made in relation to any proceedings or prospective proceedings consisting in, or arising out of, an application for an order of the High Court under Article 52 or 61;

(b)the Certification Officer has already made a declaration under that Article with respect to the subject matter of the proceedings or, as the case may be, prospective proceedings; and

(c)it appears to the Commissioner that the applicant for assistance would (if assisted) have a reasonable prospect of securing the making of such an order in those proceedings,

the Commissioner shall grant the application for assistance to the extent that he considers necessary for securing, so far as reasonably practicable, that all such steps as he considers appropriate (including, where appropriate, the taking of another ballot or the holding of another election) are taken by the trade union in question for the purpose of remedying the failure specified in the declaration and of ensuring that a failure of the same, or a similar, kind does not arise on the part of the union.

(6) The power of the Commissioner to provide assistance to a prospective applicant to the High Court under Article 52 or 61 shall not entitle the Commissioner to provide assistance with the making of an application to the Certification Officer.

(7) This Article applies to any proceedings or prospective proceedings to the extent that they consist in, or arise out of—

(a)an application to the High Court under Article 9, 32, 37, 52 or 61;

(b)an application to the High Court under Article 8(3) or any other proceedings brought by virtue of that Article;

(c)proceedings brought by virtue of Article 57 with respect to the unlawful application of the funds of any trade union;

(d)such other proceedings, being proceedings against a trade union, an official of a trade union or the trustees of the property of a trade union, as may be specified in an order made by the Department subject to affirmative resolution.

Provisions supplementary to Article 72

73.—(1) Without prejudice to the power of the Commissioner to enter into any such agreement as he thinks fit as to the terms on which assistance under Article 72 is provided, where the Commissioner grants an application under that Article to any person who for the purposes of the application—

(a)has made any statement which he knew to be false in a material particular; or

(b)has recklessly made any statement which was false in a material particular,

the Commissioner shall be entitled to recover from that person an amount equal to any sums paid by him to that person, or any other person, by way of assistance provided in pursuance of the grant of that application.

(2) Where the Commissioner provides assistance under Article 72 in relation to any proceedings, it shall be his duty to do so on such terms, or to make such other arrangements, as will secure that any person against whom those proceedings have been or are commenced is informed that assistance has been or is being provided by the Commissioner in relation to the proceedings.

(3) In every case where assistance provided by the Commissioner under Article 72 extends to assistance with respect to the conduct of any proceedings to which that Article applies, that assistance shall include an agreement under which the Commissioner is required (subject only to such exceptions as may have been contained in the notification under paragraph (2) of that Article of the Commissioner’s decision on the application) to indemnify the applicant for so much of any liability of the applicant to pay any amount in respect of costs or expenses to any other person as arises by virtue of any judgment or order of the court in the proceedings in relation to which the assistance is provided.

(4) In so far as expenses are incurred by the Commissioner in providing the applicant with assistance under Article 72 the recovery of those expenses (as taxed or assessed in such manner as may be prescribed by rules of court) shall constitute a first charge for the benefit of the Commissioner—

(a)on any costs which, by virtue of a judgment or order of the court, are payable to the applicant by any other person in respect of the matter in connection with which the assistance is provided; and

(b)on any sum payable to the applicant under any compromise or settlement arrived at in connection with that matter to avoid or bring an end to any proceedings.

(5) In this Article “the applicant”, in relation to any assistance under Article 72, means the individual on whose application under that Article that assistance is provided.

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