The Lord Chancellor has described trade union legal services as the "foundation stone to a progressive and fair society".

Speaking at the launch of a report by UNISON, the largest public sector union, Small Claims, Big Deal, Lord Falconer said:

"Trade union legal services are a foundation stone to a progressive and fair society. They protect and serve members. If we don't have an effective legal redress against employers then we can't ensure that standards are kept up.'

He made clear that there had to be effective regulation of  claims companies, and  pledged the government's commitment to improving access to quality legal services. Trade unions were a "vital element" in ensuring that access, he said.

Personal Injury Claims - Small Claims Limit

Unlike claims companies, "Trade union backed compensation claims are not part of the compensation culture", he added.

Lord Falconer also indicated that he would not be raising the small claims limit for personal injury claims.

He was carrying out research into raising the limit as recommended by the Better Regulation Task Force, but "the factors point to not raising the limit".

"The work done by trade union legal services is a force for good. It must not be adversely affected", he said.

Notes to editors

The Lord Chancellor was speaking at the launch by UNISON of Small Claims, Big Deal, a report into trade union legal services. Copies of the report are available from Thompsons (