The union offers legal services to members in matters arising out of or in connection with the member's employment, professional duties or trade union activities. If you have an employment related dispute, suffer a work related personal injury, or the police want to interview you about a work related alleged offence, you may be eligible for legal services.
No, if you join the union as soon as you enter employment which entitles you to join UCU (or within 30 days of starting that employment). Otherwise, legal services are only available to you after you have completed 90 days of membership of the union. However, if the dispute that you want to receive legal advice about started before you joined or occurred in the waiting period, you will not normally be eligible for legal services.
This will depend on the nature of your dispute and the advice provided by the lawyers. Our lawyer's first task is to provide us and you with initial advice, based on the information which you have supplied, as to whether there are any legal claims that are worthwhile pursing.
Once I have submitted an application for legal services in an employment dispute will the union automatically protect my interests and observe all time limits for me?
No. The union will not automatically take any legal steps on your behalf. Your union official or the lawyer assigned to your case will tell you whether there are any legal steps which you are advised to take. Unless, however, the union agrees to represent you, the union and its lawyers do not undertake those steps for you. You must also bear in mind that in many employment disputes which arose before 6 April 2009 the employee must use the employer's internal grievance procedures before an application will be accepted by an employment tribunal. Your union official or union lawyer can give you more information about these requirements.
Who decides what legal support I am entitled to? Who decides what legal support I am entitled to?
The national executive committee has established a sub committee, the Legal Support Review Panel, which decides whether, and if so to what extent, legal services may be offered in employment disputes. See below for an explanation of how our personal injury scheme operates.
What responsibilities do I have if the union provides legal support?
Clearly, if we are to obtain the best results for you, we must work together as a team. So for example you must give us full disclosure of all the relevant facts and materials in your case. We may also ask you to collate documents, draft statements and contact witnesses
In employment disputes the union's lawyer's services are provided free of charge. However, you should carefully note clause 8 of the agreement for legal services which is appended to the Legal Scheme Regulations. Clause 8 explains that there are certain circumstances in which the union may recover its legal costs from you as a result of your conduct.
If I am awarded compensation will I receive all of it?
Yes. The union will not deduct any money from your compensation or damages. However, this is always subject to clause 8 of the agreement for legal services mentioned above. In particular, if a court or tribunal orders your opponent to pay the legal costs of your claim you agree to give those costs received to the union to reimburse it for its outlay.
Following a competitive tender two national law firms have been appointed to undertake UCU legal work. These are: Thompsons and Slater & Gordon. Both these firms have a proven track record of representing trade union members. The union's in-house legal team may also advise and represent you.