Yes, but unions and their members now face significant new barriers doing this because of changes to the funding of personal injury claims. TheLegal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPOA) introduced in April 2013 has made it significantly harder for injured workers to seek compensation.
The Act removes a system of funding that was largely based on no win/no fee arrangements, under which the legal representatives of successful claimants were able to fund the overall costs and risks of no win/no fee litigation by charging a ‘success fee’ payable by the losing employer. Now under LASPOA, the losing employer can no longer be required to pay a ‘success fee’. These changes mean that the costs of bringing a case, previously paid by the losing party, now have to be paid by the victim out of their compensation, which can amount to as much as 25% of their damages.
The government justified the changes by arguing that Britain is in the grip of a ‘compensation culture’. The reality is very different. A joint report by the TUC and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), published in March 2014, The compensation myth — seven myths about the compensation culture, shows that the number of workplace claims have fallen more than 50% in the last decade from 183,342 in 2002/03 to just 91,115 in 2012/13.
Changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme have, since November 2012, also made it harder to secure compensation for members who have been attacked at work.
Despite these problems, union members will continue to have recourse to their union’s legal services.
You may feel that this makes union membership more attractive!