Trades Union Certification Officer

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The Trades Union Certification Officer was established in the United Kingdom by Act of Parliament in 1975. They head the Certification Office for Trade Unions and Employers' Associations.


The Certification Officer is responsible for:

  • maintaining a list of trade unions and employers' associations
  • receiving and scrutinising annual returns from trade unions and employers' associations
  • determining complaints concerning trade union elections, certain other ballots and breaches of trade union rules
  • ensuring observance of statutory requirements governing mergers between trade unions and between employers' associations
  • overseeing the political funds and the finances of trade unions and employers' associations
  • certifying the independence of trade unions

Certification Officer[edit]

The current Certification Officer is David Cockburn, appointed on 1 August 2001 and re-appointed for a further three years in August 2004, and again in 2007. He has chaired the Industrial Law Society (ILS), the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA), and the Employment Law Committee of the Law Society. He was also the founder treasurer of the Institute of Employment Rights. He is currently a vice-president of the ILS and the ELA and a member of the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia of Employment Law and the Industrial Law Journal. He is also a part-time chairman of Employment Tribunals and a Visiting Professor at the Middlesex University Business School.


In order to be recognised by the Officer, a union must first apply to be listed - a simple paper process, costing £150. But to be recognised as an independent union, with all the attendant legal benefits that follow, a union must undergo a more rigorous inspection to confirm its independence from employers. This currently costs £4066.

External links[edit]