Starmer dumps doormat?

Nicholas Bohm nbohm at
Fri Jan 21 09:41:50 GMT 2011

On 21/01/2011 06:32, Peter Tomlinson wrote:
> On 20/01/2011 19:07, Nicholas Bohm wrote:
>> On 20/01/2011 15:34, Peter Tomlinson wrote:
>>> On 20/01/2011 14:37, Nicholas Bohm wrote:
>>>> On 20/01/2011 09:31, Andrew Cormack wrote:
>>>> ...
>>>>> From papers at law conferences discussing whether avatars could be
>>>>> agents (really!) I suspect that in current law an agent has to be
>>>>> human. But there are definitely legal problems around the status of
>>>>> "software agents", so that may be the way the law is heading. If I
>>>>> find time to investigate I'll try to remember to report back here.
>>>> ...
>>>> An agent is a person with power to alter the legal relationships of
>>>> his
>>>> principal.
>>> I thought that that is the definition of a representative. But maybe I
>>> sometimes move in different circles...
>>>> Both must be entities recognised by the law as having legal
>>>> personality (i.e. individuals or corporations).
>> "Agent" is a term with a specific legal meaning, though of course it
>> isn't always used with that meaning (e.g. "software agent").
>> "Representative" has no general legal meaning (though it does have some
>> particular ones, as in "legal personal representative" which means an
>> executor or administrator of the estate of someone who has died). In a
>> commercial context a representative might have agency powers, and be
>> capable of committing a principal to a sale, but equally might not, and
>> might be a mere introducer.
> Yet Googling "Representative" quickly turns up use of the term in UK
> situations where it has the air of authority about it. It is traceable
> back a long way, Old French being referred to. It also appears in
> theology, where I believe that its use is derived from the situation
> where a person in power in a [middle eastern] community sent a
> Representative to another community, conferring on that person power
> to act for his principal (quite possibly on pain of death if he
> returns having screwed up the mission).
> But back to the UK where we merely sack people if they mess up, and
> then risk an action for unfair dismissal...
> Health and safety representatives have functions given by law.
> * If you are a trade union-appointed health and safety representative,
> your functions are set out in the Safety Representatives and Safety
> Committees Regulations 1977
> * If you are a representative of employee safety, your functions are
> set out in the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees)
> Regulations 1996
> The definition of an appointed representative is set out in s39 of The
> Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) and is contained in the
> Glossary to the FSA Handbook.
> Sole representatives of overseas firms
> Can I use a representative to apply for leave to remain under the sole
> representative of an overseas firm category?
> This page explains whether you can use a representative, such as a
> solicitor or other agent, when applying for leave to remain as a sole
> representative of an overseas firm.
> If you would like to use a representative when applying for leave to
> remain, you should make sure that they are registered with the Office
> of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or are exempt from the
> requirement to be registered (see below). Anyone who gives advice or
> acts on your behalf but is not registered could be committing a
> criminal offence.
> If your employer deals with trade unions, you may be represented in
> your workplace by colleagues who are trade union representatives. You
> may even wish to become a representative and talk to your employer on
> behalf of your colleagues.
> What is a trade union representative?
> A trade union representative (rep) is a member of a trade union who
> represents their work colleagues in dealings with an employer. They
> often provide advice on employment matters directly to colleagues.
> Trade union reps are also called ‘lay representatives’ or ‘lay
> officials’ to separate them from officials who are employees of the
> trade union.
> Trade union reps are volunteers. They do not receive extra pay for
> their work as reps, though many are entitled to time off with pay to
> undertake their role as a rep.
> The role of trade union reps
> Trade union reps are there to:
> * discuss any concerns you have with your employer
> * accompany you to disciplinary or grievance hearings
> * represent you in collective bargaining over your pay and your terms
> and conditions of employment
> * talk to your employer to try and find agreements to resolve any
> workplace issues
> * engage with your employer to develop best practice in various
> workplace areas, such as health and safety
> Your employer should consult trade union reps if:
> * there is a business transfer or takeover
> * they are planning to make 20 or more employees redundant within a
> period of 90 days
> And an international one:
> (5/1/11)
> VIDEO: Tony Blair talks to Sky News about the need to give credibility
> to the negotiations for Middle East peace
> Watch Quartet Representative Tony Blair talk to Sky News during his
> latest trip to the Middle East: "Our task - and I think we measure
> this in terms of weeks not months - is to give credibility to this
> negotiation.".
> And that is only from the first page of the Google results.
> So I maintain that "Representative" is a very powerful word. And, as a
> consequence, there is a lot of law codifying the powers of a
> Representative in particular situations, showing that, where the two
> parties are in a position to directly communicate with each other (far
> more likely these days than in times past), often the Representative
> is not an Agent.

Fascinating stuff. It shows that "representative" is often used in
statute for people who represent others, though not necessarily as their
agents. It seems to me to have a wider range of meanings than "agent",
and no particular general legal meaning when used outside a specific
statutory context.

Does this matter?

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