If you are considering making a complaint against a trade union we recommend you first consider the guidance notes on Making a complaint to the Certification Officer against a trade union. You can contact the office to discuss the matter if you wish. You might also want to see how previous cases have been dealt with, these can be found in the decisions section on this website.

The Certification Officer for Northern Ireland and her Office can not under any circumstances assist any party in making a complaint against his trade union. This is because the Certification officer has to adjudicate upon any complaints she accepts and therefore has to remain completely impartial.

Hearing Procedures

For detailed guidance on hearings by the Northern Ireland Certification Officer click here.

How to Make a Complaint

Applicants should write without delay to the Certification Officer setting out the basis of their complaint and identifying which part(s) of the 1992 or 1995 Order, or which union rule(s) have allegedly been breached. A notification of complaint form is available to help applicants provide the Certification Officer with the basic information she will need to make her enquiries: copies can be obtained from the Certification Office or downloaded here. Where the notification of complaint form is not used applicants should ensure that their application contains all the details required on the form. If more than one complaint is being made, the grounds for each complaint must be set out separately. Supporting documents and other evidence should be included with details, where appropriate, establishing membership of the union (a copy of the membership card, or the membership number and the name of the member's branch, will normally be sufficient). Applicants who choose to submit the application and/or supporting documentation by electronic means should not assume the Certification Officer has received the documents until they receive confirmation. The Certification Officer reserves the right to ask for any documents in hard copy form, particularly if the document is to be relied on at a hearing. It is the responsibility of the parties to provide the documentation in the form requested by the Certification Officer.

Correspondence by e-mail will be treated in the same way as that received by any other method i.e by letter. All substantive replies from this office will be by post.

Anonymous complaints are not normally acted upon. In exceptional circumstances only, the Certification Officer may make provision to preserve an applicant's anonymity if he considers there are compelling grounds to do so. In the vast majority of cases, however, the union concerned will be entitled to know who is making the complaint and it will be impossible for the application to proceed without disclosing the applicant's name.

It may be necessary for the Office to correspond with the applicant to confirm or establish the exact nature of the complaint being made.Complaints will not normally be put to the union until all matters being complained of have been identified and the applicant has confirmed the wording of the complaints, in writing to the Office. The acceptance of a complaint by the Certification Officer does not indicate any view of the Certification Officer as to its merits.