Trade unions owe their members a duty of care and they can be held legally responsible if they fail in this duty and cause a member financial loss as a result.
This means, for a professional negligence claim against your trade union to succeed, you must prove that the assistance and/or advice that they gave you was below the required standards of reasonable care and skill.
If it can be proved that your trade union or its representatives breached their duty of care, it must then be shown that:
- you suffered a loss; and
- this loss was caused by your trade union’s breach of their duty
For example, a trade union representative might be advising you on a potential discrimination claim against your employer. The representative’s advice on the time limit for your claim is incorrect, stating that you have several years in which to make your claim. Because of this, you do not submit your claim within the actual time limit and you are prevented from making it. Had the trade union representative exercised reasonable care and skill in their duties, they would have given you the correct advice, and you would have been able to make your claim. They have therefore breached their duty of care, and this has caused you to suffer a loss – the compensation which would have been awarded in the discrimination claim.