Legal Department constitution & policies

Article 1: Name

The name of the department shall be called the LEGAL DEPARTMENT of THE INDEPENDENT WORKERS’ UNION OF GREAT BRITAIN (IWGB) (herein after called the Union)

Article 2: Address

The Legal Department shall be at the registered offices of the Union:

12-20 Baron Street
N1 9LL

Article 3: Objects

The principal aims and objects of the Legal Department shall be to:

  1. Protect the working rights of Union members;
  2. Take on casework on be half of the various branches of the Union;
  3. Offer guidance to Union members in matters relating to their employment;
  4. Handle communications on behalf of Union members in disputes between them and their employers in regard to their employment;
  5. Arrange representation for Union members in the internal disciplinary and grievance procedures of their employers;
  6. Arrange representation for members whose cases progress to the courts or tribunals;
  7. Assist where required to do so in carrying out the objects and services of the Union, of which the Legal Department is a subsidiary.

Article 4: Application of funds

All money received on account of awards, contributions, funding from the Union and funding from any other sources shall be properly applied in carrying out the objects of the Legal Department.

  1. IWGB Legal Department Client Money Policy (Passed by the Legal Department Sub-Committee on 14 June, 2016 with immediate effect)

All client (1) monies (2) are transferred intact into a Client Account. Deductions are subsequently made according to IWGB Legal Department policy and client consent. Then the remainder will be transferred to the client’s bank account as soon as reasonably practicable. The Client Account should be reconciled once per month.

(1) Client in this context refers to members for whom the IWGB is conducting representation. (2) Monies in this context refers to money won in court, tribunal or via out-of-court settlement. For the avoidance of doubt monies in this context does not refer to membership dues or other monies unrelated to legal representation

Article 5: Administration and policy

  1. The Legal Department Subcommittee (herein after called the LDSC) shall be responsible for the organization and administration of the Legal Department. All aspects of the Legal Department’s operation shall be subject to the oversight of the LDSC.
  2. The LDSC shall consist of 3 members, appointed from among the members of the Union’s Executive Committee, one of whom shall act as Chair, and one of whom shall act as Treasurer/Secretary. The LDSC members shall decide amongst themselves who shall fulfil which role.
  3. Subject to this Constitution, the LDSC shall regulate its own affairs and administration.
  4. The LDSC shall be responsible for hiring employees of the Legal Department and for determining their terms of employment, including relevant employment policies e.g. disciplinary, leave, etc.
  5. The LDSC shall be responsible for setting rules and policies that apply to the administration, organization, and operation of the Legal Department and its finances.
  6. Records shall be kept of the details, progress and outcomes of all casework managed by the Legal Department.
  7. All members who engage Legal Department services shall abide by the applicable code of conduct (See Appendix A).
  8. Should any question arise on which the rules or policies are silent, the LDSC shall have the power to decide thereon and its decision shall be binding and conclusive.
  9. With the exception of modifications to the Legal Department Constitution, all decisions of the LDSC shall be decided by majority vote.
  10. The LDSC shall seek non-binding advice, on a regular basis, from a Board of Advisors (BoA). The BoA shall consist of no more than 6 individuals, at the invitation of the LDSC, who have expertise relevant to the functioning of the Legal Department. The LDSC may request one member of the BoA to serve as Chair with responsibility for convening meetings and another as Secretary. All decision making power shall remain with the LDSC.
  11. The LDSC shall be responsible for ensuring that the Legal Department abides by all relevant regulations and legislation including but not limited to the Code of Practice for the provision of Regulated Claims Management Services by Trade Unions.

Rules Passed by the Executive Committee or Legal Department Sub-Committee:

  1. Tribunal Cases Referred by Branches to the Legal Department (Passed August 2015)

    1. Some cases can be extremely complex so the Union needs to ensure that it has time to prepare them properly in the interests of the member. Also, some barristers like to review and amend documentation before it's submitted, so in order to enable the Legal Department to find pro-bono barristers to help with cases it needs to have a policy that allows for that.
    2. With that in mind the policy will be that a case must be referred to the legal department no later than 6 weeks prior to the ET1 deadline.
    3. For a case to be referred by a branch, it must contain all of the relevant documentation, in chronological order, in one binder or document.
    4. This policy comes into effect on Friday, 7 August, 2015.
  2. IWGB Legal Department Charges (Introduced: July 2015. Updated on 26 February, 2018 with most recent changes to come into effect on 1 March, 2018.)

    1. Any member of the union who has not been a member for 2 months or more should pay a one-off fee of £50 to use the Legal Department. For licensing cases the fee shall be £100, with £50 of it earmarked specifically for licensing-related representation costs.
    2. This one-off fee can be waived in exceptional circumstances. If the member has been dismissed or is undergoing extreme financial hardship then the fee can be waived according to standards set by the Legal Department Sub-Committee. To have the fee waived the member must satisfy the following criteria:
      1. The case they have brought to the union relates to a dismissal from their principal place of employment; (If the member has two or more jobs, each generating the same income, they can all count as “principal place of employment”.)
      2. The member must state that their dismissal has caused them financial hardship;
      3. The member must sign a form stating they feel they cannot afford the £50 fee.
    3. Any member who wins a settlement or tribunal claim through the Legal Department should contribute 15% of the compensation to the Legal Department as well as reimburse the Legal Department for the costs of the tribunal or court fee. (Introduced: July 2015. Most recent version was amended on 3 February, 2018.)
  3. Entitlement to Legal Department Services (Passed on 9 March, 2018): For any member who joins the union on or after 10 March, 2018, they will not be entitled to Legal Department services for matters which pre-date their joining the union.

  4. Day to day management (Formally introduced on 19 March, 2018): IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee shall be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Legal Department and shall have authority to take decisions on behalf of the Legal Department regarding all cases.

Article 6: Funds

  1. The Legal Department shall maintain its own bank account, as separate from accounts held by the Union for other purposes, to manage its own finances and pay expenses related to the carrying - out of its objects and services.
  2. The Legal Department shall maintain a separate bank account for money to be held in trust on behalf of members in relation to a case, to be used exclusively for this purpose.
  3. All funds shall be operated within such regulations as the LDSC may set.

Rules passed by the Executive Committee or Legal Department Sub-Committee:

  1. The Legal Department Sub-Committee shall be in charge of approving expenditures of over £100. Jason Moyer-Lee can approve expenditures of less than £100 (Introduced: December 2015 by the Executive Committee)

Article 7: Affiliations

The Legal Department may only affiliate to such other bodies as may be decided by the LDSC.

Article 8: Alteration of constitution

This Constitution shall remain in force until such further notice, and no amendments shall be made except by a unanimous vote of the members of the LDSC.

Appendix A: Code of conduct for members and Legal Department policy

Introduced: 24.04.2017. Updated: 18.09.2017. Updated again on 30 January, 2018

IWGB believes that no one should have to endure abusive or unpleasant treatment in the workplace.

IWGB employees, officials and volunteers are no exception and we are committed to uphold best practice in how our staff, volunteers and lay officials (referred to in this policy as ‘staff’) are treated.

We understand that people can become angry in situations of stress or when they feel that matters about which they feel strongly are not being dealt with as they wish. Notwithstanding, members should treat staff with respect and behave appropriately in interactions with them. If anger escalates into aggression towards our staff, or if staff experience untoward and inappropriate behaviour of any other nature (such as unwanted sexual advances) we consider that unacceptable and reserve the right to withdraw casework or other practical support. Aggressive or inappropriate behaviour includes language (whether verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel intimidated, afraid, threatened or abused and may include threats, verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness, as well as physical displays such as shouting and physically intimidating or insulting gestures. We also consider inflammatory statements, remarks of a discriminatory nature and unsubstantiated allegations to be abusive behaviour. Aggression or abuse directed towards our staff will not be tolerated. The following policy outlines steps that will be taken if Legal Department staff believe they have experienced incidences of behaviour that contravenes IWGB’s standards.

  1. Any incident of inappropriate or rude behaviour towards IWGB staff will be reported by the staff to one of the Legal Officers (or, in their absence, to the General Secretary or their nominee).

  2. The Legal Officer will try to resolve the matter informally. If they agree the behaviour was unacceptable s/he will make this clear and warn the member that any repeat of inappropriate behaviour will result in support/representation being withdrawn for the current case.

  3. If the member behaves rudely or inappropriately again, the Legal Officer shall have the authority to withdraw casework representation and close the member’s case. This applies to the current case only and does not preclude the member from requesting assistance in future.

  4. S/he will then report the matter to the Legal Department Sub-Committee (LDSC), which may or may not decide to take further action. The member will be informed.

  5. There is no right of appeal to this decision as members agree to abide by this policy in accessing IWGB’s services. However, a member may make use of the Legal Department complaints procedure if they believe the policy has been misapplied.

  6. If the behaviour in the first instance is so grievous as to warrant a special response, the Legal Officer may at their discretion withdraw casework/representation for the current case immediately. In these instances the matter must also be reported to the LDSC immediately and the LDSC will review it and make a decision regarding next steps.

  7. The Legal Officer may request the LDSC to review any particular case, if the behaviour is particularly grievous.

  8. For any cases in which the General Secretary or their nominee is acting as rep for a member, they shall fulfill the role of the Legal Officer.

  9. For the avoidance of doubt, the power of the Legal Officer to act in these cases is restricted to withdrawing services for the particular case for which the member is currently being represented. Only the LDSC has the power to bar the member from making use of Legal Department services indefinitely. Only the IWGB Executive Committee has the power to expel a member from the union.

  10. In accessing support from the Legal Department, members are deemed to have accepted this policy, which is made available on IWGB’s public website and reproduced on side 1 of the Legal Department’s Contribution Agreement.

Appendix B: Contact policy for open cases

Introduced: 18.09.2017, updated: 18.09.2017

IWGB is a not-for-profit member organisation with limited resources. Through the Legal Department we strive to offer our members professional support with employment- or workplace-related cases. Each individual case is important to us and we put a great deal of our resources into each case.

Case work is a collaboration between the member and the Legal Department and communication is vital to running a case effectively.

Legal Department staff have to meet certain standards in terms of keeping members informed and making sure they understand what is being done on their behalf. Likewise, members have a responsibility to treat their own case seriously. Members using the Legal Department must make sure they keep the Legal Department informed of any changes in their situation and inform the Legal Department in advance if they will not be contactable for a period of time (for example due to holiday). Failure to maintain contact may result in the case being closed, in accordance with the steps outlined below.

We understand that there may be many reasons why a member may not wish to pursue a case, and no case will be taken forward without the member’s approval. However, members must inform the Legal Department if they no longer wish to pursue their case so that the Legal Department is not wasting resources that could be used to support other members.

Procedures that will be followed in terms of contact are:

  1. Members must inform the Legal Department in advance if they will be out of contact for longer than 48 hours.
  2. Otherwise, members should attempt to respond to contact from the Legal Department within 48 hours.
  3. If there is no response within that time frame, Legal Department staff will keep trying to contact the client for 7 calendar days.
  4. Legal Department staff will make at least 3 attempts to contact the client during this time.
  5. If there is no response to these 3 attempts within the 7-day period, the case will be closed. It will not be re-opened except in exceptional circumstances.
  6. Members must also make a good faith effort to attend meetings and provide documents when required. If the Legal Department official dealing with a case feels the member is not making a good faith effort to cooperate with the handling of their case, the official in question may refer the matter to the Legal Department Sub-Committee which will take a decision on whether to withdraw services for that case.

Members who believe there are exceptional circumstances in their case should contact the Legal Department Subcommittee (LDSC) outlining the reasons why they were out of contact and may be asked to provide evidence to support their claim. The LDSC will have the final decision over whether or not to reinstate Legal Department support.