Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments (European Communities) (No. 2) Bill, 1987 [Seanad]: Committee Stage.
Wednesday, 25 November 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
The purpose behind amendments Nos. 1 to 4 is to provide that the courts may consider the report by Professors Evrigenis and Kerameus on the accession of Greece to the 1968 Convention as amended by the 1978 Accession Convention in interpreting the Conventions. Section 4 (2) already provides for the consideration by the courts of the report by Mr. Jenard on the original 1968 Convention and 1971 Protocol and the report by Professor Schlosser on the 1978 Accession Convention.
I mentioned in my opening remarks on Second Stage that the report dealing with the 1982 Convention on the accession of Greece has only recently come to hand and that I would be introducing an amendment on Committee Stage to provide for its inclusion in section 4. Although the publication date of the relevant Official Journal is given as 24 November 1986, I understand that there were difficulties in translating the report and that is the reason for the delay in its becoming available. SECTION 6.
Mr. McCartan: They are not entirely related but it would be convenient to discuss them together and I have no objection. This amendment seeks to amend section 6 to include “or a judgment arising from an industrial dispute and requiring the sequestration or seizure of goods or assets of trade unions”. Section 6 is the general section for the application of judgments of European courts to be enforced within our courts jurisdiction. Section 6 says that this shall apply to all judgments except orders of maintenance. We are proposing to include as an exclusion a judgment arising from an industrial dispute and requiring the sequestration or seizure of goods or assets of trade unions.
The reason for this amendment is the experience of the National Union of Miners who were persecuted and pursued to the degree of seizure if possible of all their assets in the course of the very long, protracted and acrimonious dispute some years ago when Mrs. Thatcher determinedly sought to try to smash the union and put it out of existence. We are concerned that our courts and our jurisdiction would not be employed or sought to be employed as a weapon in such a campaign, or as a device to be employed in an effort to defeat a trade union involved in a dispute.
We are particularly concerned that our courts and our jurisdiction could not be used as a means of seeking to sequester, pursue or seize assets or goods, should a trade union locked in such a battle seek  to have their assets or goods transferred out of the jurisdiction of their own country in an effort to try to maintain payment to their union members involved in a dispute. It is very easy and all too common that in many trade union issues and problems the employer or adversary of the union in the dispute will seek recourse to the courts for orders of restraint, restriction of picketing or any other allied or similar type orders. The reality is that the trade unions are finding their efforts thwarted in pursuing their legitimate objectives under the 1906 Trade Disputes Act, here and under similar provisions elsewhere, by applications to courts to restrain them, with the result that because of the many issues involved workers will often be then sought to be attached to court for contempt or a union taking a decision at national level can be ordered to appear before the court for the purposes of answering contempt or else they can be fined. Huge fines were imposed in Britain on the National Union of Miners and in time there were orders for the sequestration of their assets in view of the continuing dispute that ran over many months during the miners dispute.
This is a very important exception that should be written into the Bill. There is nothing that disallows us from making this exception. In view of the importance we as a country place on the notion of the trade unions and their recognition in our jurisdiction as being a social partner, this is very important. There is a high degree of trade unionism here. It contributes to good order in the running and management of business so it is important to set an example in this regard. I commend amendment No. 5 to the House.
Amendment No. 6 is a similar amendment which should be seriously considered. The point is whether we want to or could be obliged under the Bill, if a judgment or order from another jurisdiction for committal for non-payment of debt is transferred to our jurisdiction and is sought to be enforced before our courts——
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