In summary, the Report found that various union officials,
including former national secretary Craig Thomson, committed 181
breaches of union rules and the RO Act, which includes 105
contraventions of civil penalty provisions. FWA has issued a statement advising that it intends to initial
civil proceedings to pursue these alleged contraventions in the
The alleged civil contraventions of the RO Act include the
provisions for an officer of an organisation to act with care and
diligence, good faith and not to use his or her position to gain an
advantage (sections 285-287).
These provisions mirror the obligations for officers under
sections 180-182 of the Corporations Act 2001
(Corps Act), however the penalty regime
is starkly different – a maximum penalty of $2,200 for
officers under the RO Act, compared with up to $200,000 for a
similar contravention under the Corps Act. Further, unlike the
Corps Act, the RO Act does not provide for criminal liability for
the above obligations.
An important question for debate is whether there should be
greater consistency between the regulation of unions (and employer
associations) and corporations - are the responsibilities for union
officers to their members analogous to those for company directors
to their shareholders? After the release of the Report the answer
appears to be yes, as the Federal Government has announced its intention to amend the RO Act to
create consistency with the Corps Act regime.
However, this consistency may be qualified, if criminal
liability is not part of any proposed amendments to the RO Act.
According to its 2010/2011 Annual Report, the Australia
Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC),
pursues almost as many criminal prosecutions as civil proceedings
under the Corps Act. Given this, if consistent regulation is
considered necessary, it is unclear how this would be achieved by
only increasing the financial penalties for contraventions of the
The Government intends to canvas its proposed amendments on May
25 2012 at the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council
About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC)
FMC is one of Canada's leading business and litigation law
firms with more than 500 lawyers in six full-service offices
located in the country's key business centres. We focus on
providing outstanding service and value to our clients, and we
strive to excel as a workplace of choice for our people. Regardless
of where you choose to do business in Canada, our strong team of
professionals possess knowledge and expertise on regional, national
and cross-border matters. FMC's well-earned reputation for
consistently delivering the highest quality legal services and
counsel to our clients is complemented by an ongoing commitment to
diversity and inclusion to broaden our insight and perspective on
our clients' needs. Visit:
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).