National Union of Taylors and Garment Workers v Charles Ingram and Company Ltd: EAT 1977

The Union said that it had been recognised by the employers even though there was no written agreement.
Held: Phillips J said: ‘Recognition’ plainly, we think, implies agreement – which, of course, involves consent. That is to say, it is a mutual process by which the employers recognise the union, which obviously agrees to be recognised and it may come about in a number of different ways. There may be a written agreement that the union should be recognised. There may be an express agreement not in writing. Or, as we think, it is sufficient if neither of those exists but the established facts are such that it can be said of them that they are clear and unequivocal and give rise to the clear inference that the employers have recognised the union. This will normally involve conduct over a period of time.
Of course, the longer that state of facts has existed, the easier it is in any given case to reach a conclusion that a proper interpretation of them inevitably leads to the conclusion that the employers have recognised the union. Against that test, it has not been suggested here that there is any formal document by which the employers recognised the union. It is necessary to look at the facts. As we said, they seem to us to lead inescapably to the conclusion that these employers treated this union at the material time as being recognised for the purposes in question.’


Phillips J


[1977] ICR 530


Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.471784