Professional Negligence Claim Against a Trade Union Leads to £11,000.00 in Compensation

When Alex* was dismissed from his job, he looked to his trade union for legal assistance. But he wasn’t supported by them – or by the union’s solicitors that they instructed on his behalf – forcing Alex to look elsewhere.

Alex instructed Truth Legal, who helped him to recover £11,000 in compensation, making good the financial losses caused by the trade union’s professional negligence.


Alex had worked for his employers for over 15 years before he was badly injured in an accident at work. His employer dismissed him nearly a year after the accident on the grounds that he was unable to do his job.

Alex ultimately instructed Truth Legal, who helped him to make claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. With this assistance, and despite determined opposition to his claim, Alex succeeded in his claim and was awarded significant compensation.

However, before instructing Truth Legal, Alex had gone to his trade union for support with his employment situation.  As a paying union member, Alex was entitled to receive assistance relating to any concerns or issues that arose during the course of his employment with his employers. And he was also entitled, subject to an initial assessment of his circumstances, to receive legal support and advice from the trade union’s solicitors, TUS.*

But TUS didn’t take Alex’s claims forward. Their view was that the claims didn’t have reasonable prospects of success. This meant Alex would be forced to obtain legal advice and representation elsewhere if he wanted to pursue the claims. And, significantly, it meant he would incur the cost of instructing separate employment solicitors rather than having his claims dealt with by TUS at no cost.

As mentioned above, Alex chose Truth Legal as his new solicitors, who succeeded in recovering a substantial amount of compensation for him.

Beginning the professional negligence claim

It was Navya ShekharHead of Employment Law at Truth Legal, who had handled Alex’s claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. After concluding these claims, she spoke to her colleague Katherine Swinna specialist professional negligence solicitor and Head of General Litigation at Truth Legal. They discussed Alex’s potential claim for professional negligence against the trade union.

After an initial assessment of the key documents and information, Katherine was of the view that there was a clear case of professional negligence on the trade union’s part.

Katherine reviewed all of the documents provided by Alex and submitted a subject access request to the trade union. This was to obtain all of the information that they had in their possession regarding the matter.

After reviewing the documents the trade union provided in response, Katherine sent a Letter of Claim to the trade union, starting the professional negligence claim.

Truth Legal was able to take on Alex’s case through a No Win, No Fee Agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement). This allowed Alex to minimise any financial risks of bringing the case, as Truth Legal’s fees would not be payable if his claim was unsuccessful.

The trade union’s professional negligence

Alex’s professional negligence claim was based on a number of key points:

  1. That the trade union owed a duty to exercise “ordinary skill and care” when advising and supporting their members regarding an employment dispute.
  2. That they had failed in this duty in a number of ways, by:
    • Failing to provide adequate support, and correct advice, to Alex in respect of his employment situation and any potential claims he had against his employer.
    • Failing to provide all relevant information and documents to TUS regarding Alex’s situation, impeding the ability of TUS to advise him fully and correctly.
    • Providing incorrect, misleading, or inaccurate information to TUS.
    • Failing to ensure that Alex received accurate legal advice from TUS.
    • Failing to ensure that Alex was supported by TUS and that they pursued his employment claims against his employers when those claims had reasonable prospects of success at all times.

Alex’s losses resulting from the negligence

Had the trade union provided TUS with correct, accurate, and complete information regarding Alex’s employment situation, TUS would have been in a much better position to assess his claims.

And given the successful outcomes which Truth Legal secured for him, it is likely TUS would have considered Alex’s claims to have reasonable prospects of success.

If TUS had then proceeded with Alex’s claims, they could have done so without Alex incurring any costs – because the legal support was included in his trade union membership fees. Consequently, he incurred the financial loss of having to instruct separate solicitors to pursue his claims.

A successful outcome

Negotiations in the case were protracted and difficult at times. However, Katherine worked hard to establish Alex’s claim and document the losses he had incurred due to the trade union’s conduct. After an exchange of offers, Alex was pleased to receive £11,000.00 in settlement of his claim.

Katherine had this to say about the case:

Alex had been badly let down by his trade union, whom he had relied upon to support him at a difficult time. They should’ve done their best to ensure that his claim was taken on by TUS rather than Alex having to incur the unnecessary stress of having to locate alternative solicitors and, as a result, legal costs.

I was therefore really pleased to secure compensation for Alex, particularly as this was a challenging case and the trade union weren’t initially prepared to accept any fault at all.

Can Truth Legal help you?

Truth Legal’s solicitors have expertise in professional negligence claims – as well as professional negligence claims specifically against trade unions.

If you think you may have fallen victim to professional negligence, then why not contact us to discuss your situation further? Even if you are uncertain about where you stand, we can help you by explaining your legal rights and setting out your options.

*All names have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of our client

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Catherine Reynolds
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