POA Circulars

126 | 09.11.2018


It has been drawn to the attention of the Executive that some members have been using a “no win, no fee” solicitors when pursuing personal injury claims, rather than using the union’s retained solicitors Thompsons.

Whilst it is the individual’s right to do so, the consequences for individuals are and can be far-reaching.

Members are reminded that only the members, Legal Aid Committee and/or National Executive Committee can reject any advice and claim submitted to our solicitors.

This circular sets out the benefits both for individual members and our membership as a whole of using our union solicitors, Thompsons and suggests how we can get the most from their services.

100% Compensation
First of all, if you or a member of your family has a personal injury and wants to claim, Thompsons will run the case entirely free of charge. 

That means, if you win, you keep 100% of your compensation and if you lose, you pay nothing.

Members who use so-called “no win, no fee” solicitors rather than the union’s legal scheme, need to be aware that often the other firms aren’t specialists and won’t know the Prison Service, whereas Thompsons are specialists and work closely with the POA. No-win, no-fee solicitors can also deduct up to 25% of damages to top up their costs as well as extra charges for things like insurance premiums, interest on disbursements and other expenses. 

Expert Know-How 
Thompsons have specialist legal teams running our PI cases. Bringing claims to them feeds into their knowledge of how prisons work and the best way to win claims for you. Unlike private firms, they don’t have to learn from scratch every time a case comes to them.

When experience and knowledge stay within the union movement, this helps create a healthier, safer working environment for us all. Thompsons have the expertise to help us win cases but we also use those cases to campaign and press employers on issues such as prisoner-on-staff assaults, accidents in C&R training, Second-Hand Smoke and all the issues around NPS.


Quality assurance
We encourage all branches to build their relationship with their local Thompsons office. Thompsons will always be happy to attend area meetings to provide advice and legal updates and to discuss how they can improve their services to us.

If you are unhappy with the service provided by private solicitors, you’re on your own if you want to complain. But if you have concerns with the way Thompsons are running your claim, you can raise that through your branch committee.

If Thompsons have advised that you are unlikely to succeed in your claim and you are not happy, you can raise this with the Legal Aid Committee. Looking at the bigger picture, we can instruct Thompsons to run a case even if the prospects of winning are borderline. You won’t get that from a private firm who look at each case individually and whether it makes sense for them commercially.

Range of benefits
The success Thompsons has in running PI claims for members, allows them to provide us with best-value services in a wide range of legal cases, including bringing employment tribunal claims, defending members accused of work-related crime or misconduct and providing the union with strategic advice on our industrial disputes. We have worked with Thompsons to bring judicial reviews where, for instance, the police and CPS have not taken assaults on our members seriously. 

We want to campaign pro-actively to improve your workplaces and working with a law firm dedicated to unions and working people allow us to do that, we also want to hear from you if you have ideas about how we can improve your workplace.

As a POA member, your family is also covered for:

• Personal injury away from work, on holiday or on the roads
• Special terms for clinical negligence
• Discounted rates for wills, probate, lasting Powers of Attorney, Deputyship, conveyancing and financial mis-selling claims.

Commitment to Trade Union Movement
Since 1921, Thompsons have worked in partnership with unions to win landmark cases, helping to fight for the rights of workers. Their solicitors can be found at union rallies and events up and down the country, proud to be an active part of the trade union movement and proud to stand up for POA members and their families.

Thompsons only ever acts for the injured or mistreated party – it’s a point of principle for them that they never have and never will act for employers or the insurance industry


To see some of the great results which our union solicitors have had recently, take a look at the latest annual legal report:
To contact Thompsons directly, please call:

• England, Wales and Northern Ireland: 0800 587 7515
• Scotland: 0800 0891 331
You can find details of your local Thompsons office at: 

• England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

• Scotland: 

Please draw this Circular to the attention of all POA members.

Thanking you for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely


General Secretary

NB: No win no fee solicitors do not operate in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man.