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Collective Agreements

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Is it possible to seek 'rectification' of a collective agreement, even if it is not legally binding?

Yes, held the High Court in Nexus v National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers & Unite, dismissing the Unions' strike-out application.

The employer had sought rectification of a collective agreement, an equitable remedy available when e.g. a written contract does not reflect the true intention of the parties, after a dispute over pay rates. The Unions applied for the claim to be struck out on various grounds, including that as the collective agreement was not legally enforceable between the employer and unions (as may often be the case with voluntary agreements - s179 TULR(C)A 1992), it was outside the scope of rectification. The High Court refused the application, noting that the power of a court to grant rectification is available for contracts and also "other documents which have consequences for the parties concerned".

The Court also held that the fact that the collective agreement was incorporated into employees' contracts and legally-binding for them did not mean that it could not be rectified, even if those employees weren't involved in the proceedings.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Law at Work for preparing this case summary.