Legal Advice and aid is provided by the Society in accord with the Compensation Act 2006 and the Code of Practice for the provision of Regulated Claims Management Services by Trade Unions. The Society offers legal advice and aid only to Full Members, Life Members and Student Teacher Members who are in good standing having paid the required annual subscription for the year in which legal aid becomes necessary, on the following basis:
- All requests for professional advice or legal aid should be made through the NSEAD office. It is not normally the role of elected members of Council to act as ‘workplace representatives’.
- On being informed of the matter by the member, the General Secretary will, in consultation with the Finance and General Purposes Committee, consider whether the case may be dealt with through normal professional channels, prior to any recourse to legal action. The Society shall endeavour to give honest, impartial advice to a member about whether to pursue a claim, and if so the most appropriate method of doing so. This does not preclude the Society from giving collective or individual advice based upon an assessment of the best interests of groups of members or the membership as a whole.
- The Society shall base advice to members on the merits of a successful claim, including an assessment of the likelihood of a successful claim.
- The Society shall advise members not to pursue a claim if doing so would not be in the member's best interests.
- For the avoidance of doubt nothing in this appendix to the Constitution and Rules of the Society shall be taken to oblige the Society to pursue a claim on behalf of a member. The extent of all or any legal aid to members is at the discretion of the Finance and General Purposes Committee or Council of the Society.
Complaints and Redress
- Members are entitled to pursue a complaint about the service in relation to a claim received directly from the Society by appealing to the Finance and General Purposes Committee. This should include the ability to complain about any fees or charges to members or deductions from a member's damages and if the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, to a third party. Where it is proved that unjustifiable fees have been charged, these shall be repaid.
- The Society shall take reasonable steps to inform members who receive advice from the union about pursuing a claim about its internal complaints procedure. This applies to advice direct from the union, not advice provided by union appointed solicitors in respect of whom a separate complaints procedure applies.
- Where a complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the member within a reasonable time, it shall be referred to a third party for determination.
- hould it be determined that the Society had failed to fulfil its obligations to the member the Society shall refund any fees or charges pre-paid by the member in respect of the claim promptly and in full. The Society shall not be obliged to consider a complaint about its refusal to pursue a claim (further or at all) on behalf of a member...
- The extent of any legal aid to members is at the discretion of the Finance and General Purposes Committee or Council of the Society. The Society shall give a member relevant information about the funding of their claim, including details of any fees payable by the member and any fees being received by the Trade Union in respect of the claim.
- If fees are payable by the member in respect of the claim, a Trade Union should disclose to the member how these are to be spent.
- Any referral fees received by the Trade Union in respect of the member's claim should be disclosed to the member.
- The method for any deductions to be made from a member's compensation payment for the benefit of the Trade Union should be agreed by the member in advance.
- In advising a member in any case where fees are payable by the member in respect of the claim, a Trade Union should ensure alternative methods of funding a claim are considered.
- If a member wishes to consult a solicitor other than the NSEAD solicitor for any good reason (e.g. urgent need or distance) and provided that the member has the written permission of the General Secretary, then the Society will pay an initial fee or part thereof equivalent to any fee which would have been paid to the NSEAD solicitor for such an initial consultation.
- The Society will not pay legal fees or charges beyond those that have been agreed in writing by the General Secretary, nor will the Society pay legal fees or charges arising from subsequent or other legal consultations, or actions on behalf of the member unless such consultations, actions etc have been specifically authorised in writing by the General Secretary.
Arrangements with Third Parties
- The Society shall inform a member of any relationship between the Society and any third party (including a solicitor, claims management company or any other agency) where such a relationship has a direct bearing on the handling of a claim on behalf of a member.
- The involvement of any subsidiary companies in handling a member's claim (whether owned wholly or partly by the Society) shall be disclosed.
- The information given by the Society to a member about arrangements with third parties should be clear and appropriate to the members needs. The Society is required to disclose commercially sensitive information.
- The Society shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any advice given to a member in relation to pursuing a claim is provided by a competent employee, who has appropriate experience. Such advisers shall conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in dealing with a member's claim.
- The Society shall ensure that regular training is made available to employees who offer advice to members on pursuing a claim.
- The Society shall take reasonable steps to ensure that such persons operate within the rules of the union.
- The Society shall take reasonable steps to monitor the quality of advice given to members.
- On request, the Society shall give a member access to records kept in respect of a claim.
- Subject to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and any relevant provision in a Code of Practice issued by the Information Commissioner, the Society shall retain its documentary records of any claim for three years from the conclusion of the claim.
- The Society shall not be required to disclose information where not so required under the Data Protection Act 1988.
Section 1 of the Trade Union Act 1984 prohibits a trade union from organising industrial action unless it holds a secret ballot which satisfies the stringent conditions set out in section 11 of the Act and as amended by the Employment Act 1988. Such ballots must be held before any action can be authorised.
NSEAD cannot, and will not, organise a ballot to authorise industrial action until approached by a member(s). No member of NSEAD is requested nor authorised to strike until after that action has taken place.
In the event of a positive ballot in favour of strike action members will be authorised by the President to take such action. Nevertheless, the final decision whether or not to take strike action is a matter for the conscience of individual members.
In such circumstances or on occasions where members work alongside colleagues who are members of alternative unions who are taking industrial action the following advice should be followed. Members should not undermine the actions of those colleagues. As a matter of principle members should do the work that they are normally contracted to do as reasonably instructed by their head teacher or line manager. They should not take on unreasonable additional duties that come about as a direct consequence of the protest actions of members of another union.
If you are in doubt about what might be termed unreasonable duties please contact the NSEAD office.