In this essay, the next in our series on the National Vetting Bureau (Children And Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 To 2016 - the new Irish vetting legislation, known until now as garda vetting – we are going to look at what it means to be a Liason Person under section 9 of The National Vetting Bureau (Children And Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 To 2016. We’ll explore why the position is required; the potential for multiple Liaison Persons; the information to be given to the Bureau in the application form; the need for a relevant organization to apply for a vetting disclosure for anyone being nominated as a Liaison Person; Bureau discretion on both number of, and any specific, nomination; what happens when someone’s nomination is accepted by the Bureau; deemed nomination transporting over from the old Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU); and the requirement to keep the Register up to date.
1. DUTY TO NOMINATE A LIAISON PERSON
In order for a relevant organization to engage in the process of vetting applicants, a relevant organisation needs to have someone approved by the Bureau to take upon the role of liaison person for that organization. That person – the ‘liaison person’ (i.e. the person who ‘liaises’ – meaning that they act as the linking point between the Bureau and the relevant organisation) is the person authorized to apply to the Bureau for, and receive from the Bureau, vetting disclosures in respect of people applying to that relevant organization.
(Before the National Vetting Bureau Act became law, this post was known as the ‘authorised signatory’).
Once that person has gone through the process of nomination to, and acceptance by, the Bureau; then that that person’s name is entered onto the Register of liaison persons as held by the Bureau.
2. POSSIBILITY OF MULTIPLE LIAISON PERSONS
An interesting point tonight here is the fact that sufficiently large organisations can seek to nominate multiple liaison persons to the Bureau. In reality it is unlikely that most organisations would require multiple liaison persons; but there nonetheless are a number of relevant organisations of sufficient scale for whom this feature would be of significant benefit.
3. PROCEDURUAL REQUIREMENTS FOR AN APPLICATION
All of the ‘particulars’ (which is basically a fancy legal type word for ‘details’) required as part of the application to nominate someone can the function of liaison person within relevant organization, are much as you would expect.
However, I think it is both important and interesting to note that as with all vetting disclosures, there is no automatic presumption against somebody being able to carry out the function of it a relevant organisation’s liaison person, even if they have a criminal record.
This part of the form is essentially the self-declaration by a nominee of their criminal record.
This contrasts with the vetting disclosure application that the relevant organisation will be separately on their nominee.
At the same time, section 9(3)(k) – which is this part of the vetting legislation - was one of the sections amended by the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 legislation.
The effect? It means that on the nomination application form, a person being nominated as a liaison person is no longer required to self-disclose criminal convictions covered by the amendment effected by the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016. That amendment basically allows someone not to have to disclosure certain convictions (as part of the principal of the importance of allowing certain convictions to be considered as ‘spent’).
In tandem with this, the Bureau is given broad discretion in its ability to seek "other information" which it reasonably requires in order to make an assessment of somebody’s application to work as a liaison person.
The only rider, or qualification, to this broad discretion held by the Bureau is the fact that such other information sort must be reasonably required.
This test of reasonableness is an objective test; it will be interesting to see if this section is ever challenged by someone seeking appointment to the post of liaison person within a relevant organization.
4. RELEVANT ORGANISATION TO SEEK VETTING DISCLOSURE ON NOMINEE
This is the requirement for the relevant organization to ensure that they apply for a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in relation to any person that they have nominated to act as their liaison person.
5. THE BUREAU'S DISCRETIONARY POWER AS REGARDS REGISTRATION
This section reflects the Bureau’s discretionary power as regards a relevant organisation’s application to appoint their nominee to the post of liaison person. It is similar to the Bureau’s discretionary power to refuse an organisation’s application to appear on the Register of Relevant Organisations, which we looked at in another essay.
In this case, the Bureau may refuse an application it considers the person to be an unsuitable appointee to the position (in light of the outcome of the vetting procedures carried out). The Bureau can also refuse to register applications where the Bureau considers that he number of people that the organization is seeking to appoint, is excessive in light of the organisation’s size, and the vetting requirements of that organization.
(You can see that it is important for organisations to give serious thought as to the actual need to nominate more than one liaison person; as that is likely to be the question that the Bureau asks in considering an application for multiple liaison persons).
6. ENTRY ON THE REGISTER OF LIAISON PERSONS
This section sets out the requirement of the Bureau, where it accepts an nomination, to register the name of the approved liaison person on the Register of Relevant Organisations.
7. PASSPORTING GCVU AUTHORISED SIGNATORIES AS LIAISON PERSONS
This section implements a deemed registration of all those evolving carried out the role equivalent to a liaison person prior to the enactment of the vetting legislation. Basically it means that they don’t have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
8. DUTY TO KEEP REGISTER OF LIAISONS PERSONS UP TO DATE
This is the duty on a relevant organization to ensure that the register is kept up-to-date and accurate. It is a proactive duty on all relevant organisations to make sure that they communicate as soon as may be with the Bureau in this regard.
In this essay we looked at the function of the liaison person.
We explored the fact that in some instances there may be a requirement for multiple liaison persons, depending on the size of an organisation and the number of vetting disclosures processed each year.
We looked at the practical details sought by the Bureau in such an application; and we touched on the broad discretion of the Bureau in the ultimate consideration of any application to be appointed as a liaison person.
We considered at this discretion in some detail and noted how ultimately it is a matter for the Bureau to consider if someone’s suitability, in light of the outcome of the vetting application process.
At the same time, a factor in the appointment is whether, in the view of the Bureau, an excessive number of nominees has been made by any particular relevant organisation.
We looked at the sensible passporting provisions such that people who held the equivalent post under the old regime automatically carry over the post into the new regime.
And finally we noted the duty imposed on all relevant organisations to ensure that the details of their liaison persons are both accurate and up-to-date on the Register held by the Bureau.
This essay is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.
Specific legal advice from a firm of solicitors should always be sought on the application of the law in any particular situation.
Whilst all reasonable endeavours have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, no liability whatsoever is accepted for any omissions or errors or for any action taken in reliance of the information in this essay.