On several occasions since I founded Truth Legal in 2012, I have taken on employment claims which were initially rejected by my client’s allocated trade union solicitors for not having “reasonable prospects of success”. I have won each case – and won with ease. Each time, I have not understood the decision to refuse trade union funding, as the claims were strong.

The first case will forever stick in my mind:

My client had been employed by a public sector body for over 25 years when she was allocated to a new line manager. My client and her manager didn’t hit it off, shall we say. The manager was positively rude. My client was somewhat unmovable, stubborn. Neither were as professional as they could have been.

Then, out of the blue, the public body dismissed my client as a result of, they said, an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between the line manager and my client. Yet, my client had an unblemished and distinguished employment record. She was a dedicated public servant; a member of her union for over a quarter of a century. All the employer had to do was to allocate a different, more professional line manager, but they opted to sack her for no good reason.

What makes the dismissal even weirder is that the line manager was based in London and my client was based in….. Yorkshire. Had the two been falling-out with each other in a small office, upsetting their colleagues, then the employer might have had a smidgen of a reason to dismiss my client, but they didn’t. In fact, the two arguing parties had only met each other on a handful of occasions! The disagreements were by phone and email. The line manager had a history of rubbing people up the wrong way.

To make matters worse, my client was the only employed person in her household, and she had a disabled partner and a disabled child. Suffice to say, that this was a difficult period for my client.

The Trade Union Solicitors

Obviously, obviously you would think that after reviewing the papers the trade union solicitors would have concluded that there was – obviously -a strong unfair dismissal claim but – no: the trade union solicitors refused to recommend that the trade union funded the employment claim. The trade union solicitors took the view that the dismissal was potentially fair. How wrong they were.

The Legal Expenses Insurers

Luckily – or so my client thought – she had legal expenses insurance which provided for insurance for employment claims; but, her grossly unfair legal expenses insurers refused to support her case – not because she had a terrible case, rather, because she already had alternative cover in the form of the trade union cover! You couldn’t make it up! Talk about kicking someone when they are down.

Down on her luck, depressed, angry, but adamant that she had a good case (as it was clear to everyone other than the appointed trade union solicitors), she issued her unfair dismissal claim herself (she didn’t do a very good job of issuing the employment claim, but at least it was lodged in time).

Introduction of Andrew Gray

Then a friend introduced me to the client.

After reviewing the substantial papers (at no cost), I offered a No Win, No Fee agreement because it was crystal clear to me that this was a classic case of unfair dismissal. On top of this, the dismissal made me angry: a wrong needed correcting. I want to be angry, as it makes me more determined to win my case.

No Win, No Fee agreement

After agreeing the No Win, No Fee agreement, I went onto the Employment Tribunal’s record, taking over from my stressed-out client. With the help of a specialist employment law barrister (who also thought that my client had a good claim for unfair dismissal), we re-drafted the claim, attended a short employment tribunal hearing (which we won, despite the public sector body throwing everything they had at it), and took the case towards trial, confident that we would win.

But the employment claim never got to trial because, over the space of several tense weeks, I negotiated a spectacular settlement for my client of over £25,000. My fees were paid for out of the compensation. My client was delighted with the tax-free sum: a modicum of financial security was provided.

Today, we remain in touch, because, as is common in employment tribunal claims, the solicitor and the client often become close. I did a great job – even if I do say so myself; and I was indebted to the client for trusting me with such an important case.

Get a second opinion on your trade union-rejected employment claim

So, if this sounds familiar- that your allocated trade union solicitors have rejected your employment claim for poor reasons – then please get in touch with me – Andrew Gray – or our Head of Employment Law, Navya Shekhar, Solicitor, for a second opinion. Please send us all the key documents and we will have a free, no obligation consultation with you. If we can offer a No Win, No Fee employment agreement, we will do so, because we are committed to providing access to justice.

I am firmly of the view that trade unions should take on more employment law claims.

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Catherine Reynolds
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