Members of Old Square Chambers have succeeded in a groundbreaking case on industrial action in the Court of Appeal.
John Hendy QC leading Oliver Segal (since elevated to silk) and Rohan Pirani, all from Old Square Chambers, were instructed by Thompsons in a conjoined appeal against the granting of injunctions against ASLEF (who had called a strike by its members working for London Midland) and RMT (who had called a strike by its members working on London Docklands Railway).
In the present climate of increasing industrial unrest and calls for strike action, employers have had frequent recourse to the courts to seek to prevent industrial action taking place, relying on technical legal arguments to suggest that unions have not complied with the complex statutory obligations regulating their organisation of industrial action ballots and the notices they provide to employers about ballots and strikes.
This important judgment, building on the Court of Appeal judgment in the BA v. UNITE case last year, for the first time explains the proper extent of these statutory obligations on trade unions. The Court of Appeal described the analysis of the law advanced on behalf of the rail companies as one that would amount to setting "traps or hurdles for the union which have no legitimate purpose or function". The Court dismissed the various criticisms of the unions’ notices to the rail companies as invalid and not amounting to evidence of any failure by the unions to comply with their statutory duties.
The implications of this decision will be significant across the industrial and legal landscape.