Lawyers appointed to Northern Ireland’s Labour Relations Agency

Lawyers appointed to Northern Ireland's Labour Relations Agency

Employment lawyers Orla Sheils and Sarah Havlin are among four new board members appointed to Northern Ireland’s Labour Relations Agency (LRA).

The LRA is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy, offering impartial advice to both employees and employers. It has responsibility for promoting the improvement of employment relations in Northern Ireland.

The appointments, announced yesterday but effective from the start of September, have been made by the Northern Ireland Office in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.

Ms Sheils is a solicitor qualified to practice in Northern Ireland and in England and Wales. Her legal career has involved her working in private practice, for the Employment Tribunal Service, a trade union and public inquiries.

Specialising in employment law, she brings over 20 years’ experience advising various trade union and private clients to the role.

She has issued high-profile, high-value, and complex cases before the Central Arbitration Committee, Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunal, High Court and Court of Appeal. A significant number of these have been multi-claimant proceedings involving large sums of compensation awarded to her clients.

Ms Havlin is the chairman of the Industrial Court of Northern Ireland. She is a solicitor by profession with an extensive background in employment law and relations, particularly in complex collective disputes.

For 10 years she was the Certification Officer of Northern Ireland, the statutory regulator of trade unions and employer associations with judicial functions. She also holds the position of deputy chairman of the Central Arbitration Committee in London, which is the Industrial Court of Great Britain.

She is also a former chairman of the Agricultural Wages Board and has held several judicial and quasi-judicial roles including as a Parades Commissioner, the Boundary Commissioner and as a legal chairman of both the Exceptional Circumstances Tribunal for the Department of Education and the Independent Review of Decisions Panel for the Department of Agriculture.

The two other new board members are Libby Armstrong, who has extensive human resources experience, and Mark Spence, a construction industry leader.

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