Update in Legal Service numbers and Providers

Circular No: NCP/199/17
Our Ref: LA/11/2017
16th November 2017

To: Branches, Regional Councils & Regional Offices

Dear colleague,

Update in Legal Service numbers and Providers.

I have been asked to update you regarding our services and access to them. RMT provides a wide range of legal services for its members (subject to Rule for eligibility and legal assistance).
Our legal services are provided by a number of sources. We now have a Legal Department staffed by 4 qualified solicitors. The number of the Legal Department is 0207 084 7260.

In addition we use Thompsons Solicitors in England and Wales for personal injury work and limited employment work.

We are pleased to announce that we have engaged the services of Thompsons in Scotland for the first time in order to centralise and regularise our services in Scotland. They are a separate firm to Thompsons in England and Wales. We have not renewed our contract with Drummond Miller and look forward to working with Thompson’s who currently deal with our offshore members. Thompsons have offices in Edinburgh; Glasgow and Aberdeen and we hope that their spread of offices will improve our service to our members.

For an initial enquiry, one of our helplines should assist:

RMT Helpline
England and Wales: 0800 376 3706

In Scotland and Off Shore members the number has changed to: 0808 068 5529     
Or email: info@rmt.org.uk

The lines are open 8:00-18:00 hours Monday-Friday, 9.30-16:00 hours Saturday.

This applies to all work and non-work related queries, for example, a matter of property, consumer or family law, or consumer problem etc.
The service is run from our IR Department and is similar to what is provided at a CAB but does not extend to appointing a solicitor to advise and assist.  The member is entitled to up to half an hour’s time over the telephone, but cannot have documents considered, or letters written; nor have legal representation which they would have to arrange privately.

Criminal Helpline
England and Wales: 0765 911 8181

In Scotland and Off Shore members the number has changed to: 0800 089 1300

This covers legal assistance at police stations in respect of police charges arising out of a member’s employment. Members may also ask for advice on this helpline before agreeing to take part in identification procedures, being charged or summonsed in respect of police charges arising out of their employment, the line can also be used for criminal matters arising out of work for advice. If a member is asked to attend or taken to a police station for questioning, they have the right to request the duty solicitor. Members should never attend a police station without having sought legal advice initially.

Members may use this helpline for non-work related and general criminal enquires.  

RMT solicitors will not charge members for any initial advice given and welcome enquiries from members if they have any doubts as to whether they need legal representation.

The lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Legal representation may be provided to members in respect of police charges arising out of their employment. Should a member wish the Union to provide legal representation for them then they may be eligible (subject to meeting the Unions criteria), for assistance with their representation.

Once a member has received a copy of the charge sheet or the summons, (work related criminal charges) they should contact their Branch Secretary. Consideration for legal assistance cannot be given until a member is formally charged or receives a summons to appear in a magistrates' court. In the case of licensing matters for appeals about license revocations then the date that the license was revoked and accompanying correspondence must be provided.

 The Branch Secretary should complete the L3 with the member and forward this with a copy of the charge sheet, and any other paper work of relevance to the General Secretary c/o the Legal Department requesting representation in the matter.

It is important to say whether the incident happened at work and whether the charge could result in the member losing their job. Branch Secretaries are welcome to scan these details to the Legal Officer at RMT Legal Department (0207 084 7260).

The General Secretary will then decide as to whether legal representation will be provided by the Union after consulting our solicitor as to prospects. It has to be noted that this is a discretionary scheme and representation is considered on the case’s merits and after assessment by our solicitors either in house or external providers.

Representation is always on the basis that the member applies for Legal Aid, should this be available. It is highly unlikely that the Union would provide representation for non-work related criminal charges; although members may use the criminal helpline number for all criminal matters including enquiries for their family. In the event that members use our solicitors for a non-work related criminal matter they are responsible for meeting the costs of any representation.
Criminal proceedings arising out of a Road Traffic Accident, including going to and from work are generally not matters covered by our scheme, unless the incident in question happens whilst the member is at work in the conduct of their employment. The member should be directed to the criminal helpline advice line for advice on plea and general advice.

Should the member be injured in the accident he/she is entitled to advice and if reasonable prospects representation in relation to any civil claim for damages (see below).

Representation when provided is covered by our in house solicitor or Powell Spencer, whichever is deemed more appropriate by the Union.   
Personal Injury

This service covers:

•    RTA accidents to and from work where the member is injured, this also covers family members;
•    accidents at work claims for members only;
•    industrial disease claims for members only;
•    non work related accidents for members and their families;
•    Clinical negligence is not covered by the scheme but members can use the numbers below to get expert general advice.

The service is accessed:

In England and Wales by calling 0800 022 4224.

In Scotland and Off Shore members by calling: 0800 022 4224
In Southern Ireland should complete an L1 form available on line or from their Branch Secretary and submit to the Legal Department.

Assaults on Duty
Members who suffer an injury as the result of violent crime or are injured whilst trying to apprehend criminals or prevent a crime, may be entitled to an award under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA).

An award will not be made if the offence was not promptly reported to the police or if any information is held back from them. The scheme will not pay compensation if it is assessed at under £1,000. A claim must be made within two years of the incident.

Individuals may apply to the CICA on their own behalf.  However, if the assault was on duty or while travelling to/from work any member who would like the Union's solicitors to assist with a CICA claim and/or consider a potential personal injury claim for the assault should contact England and Wales 0800 0 224 224 and Scotland and Off Shore members 0800 022 4224. Southern Irish members should complete an L1.

Employment Tribunal Claims

Should a member require legal assistance for an employment tribunal, they need to fill in an L2 form and pass this with as much relevant documentation as possible to their Regional Organiser.

The Regional Organiser has the ability to assist the claim in a variety of ways, either through local negotiation to seek early settlement, advice on to how to follow grievance procedures and on how to submit.

Conciliation form to ACAS to comply with the strict time limits, (3 months less a day); remember it is a prerequisite to lodging a claim at an employment tribunal that member produces a certificate from ACAS that they have complied with conciliation requirement.

Our Regional Officers will also help to compile all the necessary documentation to establish the case.  Having authorised the L2 form the Regional Organiser sends all the documents to our Legal Department which is situated at Maritime House, Clapham Old Town, London, SW4 0JW where the case will be assessed by our in-house solicitors.
The member will be contacted upon receipt of the papers to say that they have been received and giving them a unique reference number. They will be invited to contact the solicitor to arrange a mutually convenient appointment either by telephone or by face to face meeting.

If the case is deemed to have reasonable prospects we shall provide representation if it is declined, member will be advised accordingly and notified that the Branch has the right to appeal my decision to decline representation. The case if appealed by the Branch is referred to the NEC for consideration.

Legal representation is not automatic and is provided by the Union in cases that have reasonable prospects of success. Unless/until legal representation is granted the member remains responsible for lodging ACAS conciliation and ET1 claim form within the time limit.

A claim can also be submitted online at
http://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk/ and it will automatically be forwarded to the relevant Tribunal office.  Remember to save your sent version on to your computer.

Original ET1 forms must not be sent to RMT head office.  It is for the member to lodge these forms with the Tribunal and within the time limit – see below.

It is important to note first of all that not all employment issues can be resolved in the Employment Tribunal. The jurisdiction list on their website www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk shows the limit to the claims a Tribunal can determine.  For those that can, there is a strict time limit of three months, less one day, in which to submit an ET1 claim.

Before an ET1 form is accepted the member must have an ACAS certificate which confirms that the case has been in conciliation. It is important to note that ACAS conciliation must be made within the 3 month less a day deadline and the effect of lodging the claim with ACAS means the limitation clock stops; the clock starts ticking depends on the dates on the certificate.  For example, where the issue is unfair dismissal, it is 3 months less one day from the effective date of termination.
The date the member was first informed of the dismissal should be regarded as the ‘Effective Date of Dismissal (EDT).’ This is crucial because, regardless of any appeal, the Employment Tribunal will not accept a claim for unfair dismissal if it is received three months or more after the EDT.

For discrimination claims, if the unlawful discrimination is not a single act for which the three-month limit would apply, there is the possibility that the unfavourable treatment can be considered “continuing discrimination”.  But that should be regarded as a last resort.  If in doubt, apply the earliest possible act of discrimination as being when the clock started.

In other Employment Tribunal claims in relation to a member’s employment such as unlawful deduction of wages, flexible working cases etc. similar considerations as to time limits apply. The clock starts from the event giving rise to the complaint e.g. the deduction of wages, the first refusal of flexible working etc.

The internal grievance procedure should be used before lodging a Tribunal claim (in dismissal cases it is the appeal procedure which should be used).  So members with a potential Tribunal complaint should put in a grievance about that complaint (an appeal in dismissal cases) as per the ACAS Code of Practice.  It will be possible to lodge a Tribunal claim prior to exhausting the grievance/appeal procedure, especially where the employers are dragging their feet; but it is always best that the grievance/appeal is lodged promptly so that in many cases it will be concluded before the time limit expires. But lodging the grievance or appeal does not extend the time limit for contacting ACAS or submitting an ET1 claim to the Employment Tribunal. That time limit runs from the date outlined above – not from the date the grievance/appeal is lodged or concluded.

Free wills
This is a free service for a basic will, but a charge applies to any later amendments and to complex wills. I am delighted to report that in order to make this service accessible to all we have arranged for members to make their simple wills on line .The process is simple and easy to follow. I will be arranging a link to be placed on our web site. If member wishes to make a general enquiry concerning the will they can call 0151 326 2188 in England and Wales or 0808 068 5529 in Scotland and off shore members. They can also contact willrequest@thompsons.law.co.uk .

To access on line please go to www.ThompsonsWill.com for Scotland
https://wills.bbhlegal.co.uk/kbxhtml/KBXWEB.aspx?ST=THWS&SC=Start&KBXP1=PB&KBXP2=RM for England and Wales

Discount conveyancing and probate.

These are services members pay for at a discounted rate. These are provided by BBH for members in England and Wales; Thompsons in Scotland.

Please advise your members and I would advise that you put the key numbers in your phones so that you can give them out to members. We will place all numbers and links on our website.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary