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RMT sub nom AB v CD


High Court (Ch D)

The parties sought the court's opinion as to the validity of the election of a candidate ('T') to the Council of Executives of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers ('RMT'). The rules required such election to be conducted in accordance with the Single Transferable Vote ('STV') system as described in Rule 13(1). At the first stage of the election, T gained 747 votes, another candidate ('G') 713 votes and a third candidate ('P') 332 votes. P's votes were then redistributed in accordance with the voters' second preferences. In respect of 44 the preferences were exhausted. Reallocation of the remainder resulted in 874 being attributed to each of T and G. T was elected "due to having more votes at the first stage of the election". Members represented by the claimant ('AB'), who claimed that the election of T was invalid, contended that the manner in which the tie between T and G was broken was not authorised by the RMT Rules and was contrary to the express provisions of Rule 13(1). The defendant ('CD'), representing all those members of RMT who claimed that the election was valid, submitted that: (i) the rules, as supplemented by custom and practice, did provide for the resolution of the tie by the method adopted; (ii) the result of the election, having been duly declared, could not now be re-opened; and (iii) the construction and application of Rule 13 as contended for by AB was untenable. The independent scrutineer required by the Rules and by s.46 to s.53 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 was a subsidiary of the Electoral Reform Society ('ERS'), which had produced booklets (the latest in 1997) setting out rules as to how to conduct elections by STV. RMT also had a Standing Orders Committee paper setting out the procedure for counting ballot papers.

HELD: (1) The RMT rules failed to make express provision for what was to be done if two or more candidates tied at any stage. (2) The situation was however covered by the ERS rules and the Standing Orders Committee paper and T was validly elected if either or both were applicable to elections conducted in accordance with the RMT rules because they were to be implied into the RMT rules. (3) Such implication would not be contrary to the express provisions of Rule 13(1). The ERS rules and the Standing Orders Committee paper were supplementary to the provisions of Rule 13(1)(d) in providing the means of breaking the deadlock. (4) Whilst these supplementary provisions could not be implied by reason of custom or practice, as they were not readily ascertainable by all members, they could be implied by reason of necessity. The RMT rules were incomplete and the system unworkable without these provisions. (5) The election of T was valid. (6) Had CD's point (ii) arisen, the judge would have concluded that as the election was a nullity it would have had to have been held again.
Affirmative declaration that election valid.

John Hendy QC and Michael Ford instructed by Christian Fisher for AB. Brian Langstaff QC and Adam Solomon instructed by Pattinson and Brewer for CD.

LTL 7/6/2001 : (2001) IRLR 808
Document No. AC0101446

[2001] IRLR 808

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