Court of Appeal
HELD: (Maurice Kay L.J. dissenting on the issue of required information) (1) The judge had been correct to find that s.231A imposed a free-standing obligation on U to inform M of the result of the ballot, which had to be performed even if the union did not initiate industrial action. Neither s.231 nor s.231B could be said to be dependent on there being a call for industrial action. The union could wait for up to three weeks before calling for action; in the meantime, it had to have informed the employer of the ballot result as soon as reasonably practicable, which was a very different timescale. The judge had also been correct that U had not complied with its obligation under s.231A. It would have been reasonable for U to ask the ballot organisers of the result on the day the ballot closed. Furthermore, the regional secretary's having to wait for authority from the general secretary to pass on the result, might have been right in terms of authority within U, but it was not a reason which U could rely on for withholding the information from M. (2) While U could have complied with s.226A by giving lists, figures and explanations for all the employees concerned, it could not have done so by giving the s.226A(2C) information for all employees, because only for check-off employees could M be expected to readily deduce the information it needed. (3) The error was plainly trivial and insignificant in context, and could have had no impact on M's response to the strike notice or its preparations to cope with the strike, RJB Mining (UK) Ltd v National Union of Mineworkers (1997) IRLR 621 QBD considered. The judge was therefore wrong to find that that defect had been fatal, but even if he had decided that point differently, his overall conclusion would have been the same. (4) The provisions with which the appeal was concerned were not disproportionate restrictions on rights under art.11. The obligation under s.231A was not too onerous: it was an obligation to do something as soon as reasonably practicable which was not in itself difficult. Nor was the requirement of an explanation of how the information supplied had been arrived at an onerous obligation. It was not difficult to comply with and there were legitimate reasons for requiring an explanation: an employer should be able to understand something about the degree of reliability of the data supplied.
 IRLR 851;  1 ICR 173
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