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Guidance Notes for Employment Advice & Assistance

Last updated: 20 October 2020

Union Rules stipulate that legal advice and assistance are provided under such criteria as are established by the Union’s Executive Committee (“the EC”) (Rule I.3.c) and that the grant of legal assistance is made at the EC’s discretion (Rule V.10).

The EC has established the criteria detailed below on this page, defining the scope of, and qualification for, legal advice and assistance. Members may be ineligible for legal advice and/or assistance if they do not meet all the criteria.

Withdrawal of legal representation and assistance

We may withdraw representation and assistance if you:

a) Cease to become a member of the union or have not paid your subscriptions in accordance with the union rules;

b) Have been advised your case has no reasonable prospect of success;

c) Fail to co-operate with the union Official or lawyer allocated to your case;

d) Ignore our advice and/or act contrary to our advice and/or act without recourse to your union Official;

e) Ignore our lawyer’s advice and/or act contrary to that advice

f) Use or instruct a third party for the purposes of advice or representation in relation to the conduct of your case;

g) Have been advised that the continuance of your case may subject you to harm or other detriment;

h) Deliberately withhold, omit or misrepresent any matter in relation to the facts or the conduct of your case;

i) Someone such as a partner acting on your behalf, acts in a way that interferes with the conduct of your case by your Official; OR

j) Use abusive language or behaviour towards any union employee or other connected with your case. Your behaviour to others involved in the case is racist, sexist, homophobic or in any other way offensive and contrary to the Union’s equal opportunities policies.

The list above is not exhaustive. You will have the right to appeal to the union’s Legal Panel about the refusal or withdrawal of representation.

Conduct of your case

To avoid the prospect of you receiving conflicting advice, the union does not provide advice or representation where you are already being advised by a third party (e.g. solicitor, advocate or friend or relative) or you instruct a third party whilst the case is in progress. In such circumstances the union may refuse or withdraw casework / legal advice and assistance in respect of your case.

We will assess your case and advise you on how to achieve the best available outcome. In some cases there may be more than one outcome available to you and it will be a matter for you to decide, having been advised about the options open to you. This may also change as the case progresses.

Confidentiality

All information you provide is treated as confidential. All information is processed and stored in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. No information will be disclosed or used in relation to the conduct of your case without your permission. Only in circumstances where we reasonably believe that you may cause harm to yourself or others would any personal information be provided to others e.g. the police.

Our duty of confidentiality to you means that we cannot discuss your case with a relative or friend or anyone else seeking to act on your behalf. This is usually possible only where you have granted power of attorney to another party e.g. due to mental incapacity.

Once your case is concluded, the case file will be archived and retained in storage for 6 years. After this time your case file will be securely shredded.

It will be necessary to pass your details and details of your case to our lawyers to enable them to provide appropriate advice and / or representation; we cannot progress your request for advice/assistance without such disclosure (which accordingly represents a lawful ground for data processing: it is necessary for the performance of a contract with you.)

Insurance

The Union’s external solicitors are subject to compulsory insurance against professional negligence under the Solicitors’ Indemnity Insurance Rules, as are all solicitors in private practice. As employed solicitors, the Union’s In-house Solicitor is not subject to compulsory insurance under these Rules, but all the Union’s Officials who provide advice and assistance, including the Union’s In-house Solicitor are insured by the Union against negligence.

Who to contact if you have questions or complaints

The MU aims to provide a high level of casework support and legal assistance to members. However if you have concerns about the conduct of your case please take the matter up, in writing, with your Regional Organiser in the first instance, and if you remain unsatisfied, you may write to the General Secretary.