The Certification Officer

The current Certification Officer for Northern Ireland, Mrs Sarah Havlin, was appointed on the 15th of June 2012 under Article 69 of the Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 for an initial term of five years.

The Certification Officer's functions generally concern the internal affairs of trade unions and employers' associations. They relate mainly to listing, accounting records, approving political fund rules of Northern Ireland based unions, secret ballots and the certification of independence of trade unions. The Certification Officer is also responsible for determining complaints concerning trade union elections, certain other ballots and trade union rules. Appeals to her decisions are either to the High Court or the Court of Appeal depending on the issue. More detailed information on the role of the Certification Officer, and the relevant legislation, can be found in the Annual Report.

Sarah Havlin
Sarah Havlin - Certification Officer for Northern Ireland

Mrs Havlin is a solicitor by profession. Following a thirteen year career in commercial legal practice, she moved into the areas of regulation, public policy, formal investigative work and quasi-judicial adjudication processes. She has previously overseen the Review of Local Government of Northern Ireland and several formal reviews of terms and conditions of pay across a variety of sectors including Agriculture, Health and Local Government.

Mrs. Havlin is also a visiting tutor at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University and a former Associate Lecturer in Law with the Open University. Whilst working part time as Certification Officer, she also serves as a Parades Commissioner for Northern Ireland, under appointment by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, an Independent Board Member of the Youth Justice Agency, under appointment by the Minister for Justice and is a legal member of RQIA, the Regulator of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.

Mrs. Havlin also carries out commissioned work as an independent complaints assessor and as an independent advisor in Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs. She holds professional qualifications in Investigative Practice from The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, in Policy Development from Boston College and in Regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Mrs Havlin has been appointed as a Suffrage Champion by Women in the Humanities of Oxford University with effect from 2018.