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Employment Act 1988

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

20Assistance by the Commissioner

(1)Subject to the following provisions of this section, where, in relation to any proceedings to which this section applies, an individual who is an actual or prospective party to those proceedings applies to the Commissioner for assistance under this section, 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 subsection (1) above—

(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 section 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 section 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 section 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 section is made in relation to any proceedings or prospective proceedings consisting in, or arising out of, an application for an order of the court under section 16 above or under section 5 of the 1984 Act;

(b)the Certification Officer has already made a declaration under that section 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 court under section 16 above or section 5 of the 1984 Act (under which applications may be made either to the court or to the Certification Officer and, in certain cases, may be made to both) shall not entitle the Commissioner to provide assistance with the making of an application to the Certification Officer.

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

(a)an application to the court under section 1, 6, 9 or 16 above;

(b)an application to the court under subsection (3) of section 8 above or any other proceedings brought by virtue of that section;

(c)an application to the court under section 5 of the 1984 Act (remedy for failure to comply with Part I of that Act);

(d)proceedings brought by virtue of section 3(1) of the 1913 Act (restriction on application of union funds for certain political purposes) with respect to the unlawful application of the funds of any trade union;

(e)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 Secretary of State.

(8)The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under subsection (7)(e) above shall be exercisable by statutory instrument; and no such order shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

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