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Fee Recovery Service

How the MU can help when you haven’t been paid properly for your work

Not receiving the payment you were expecting – and have often been counting on – is a stressful scenario that can leave you feeling powerless.

However, the MU is here to help in following-up and doing everything that we can to help you in recovering any lost fees. From advice on how to approach the other party and have that initial discussion, all the way through to providing legal assistance to you in bringing a claim in the small claims court.

Your Regional Office is your first point of call for legal concerns. They’re easy to contact through phone and email, and will be able to advise you on the next possible steps to take.

Using the MU’s fee recovery service

Lost fees can happen for all kinds of reasons.

Maybe your gig has been cancelled last minute, or you’ve completed your part in a recording project only to be rewarded with significantly less money than you expected. You could be working for a private music service that’s fallen behind with your regular payments, or you were hired for a big workshop that unexpectedly ended up not happening.

You can ask the MU for help via our fee recovery service on any and every payment issue owed to you personally, relating to your career as a musician. The extent of advice and assistance that you will receive will depend largely on you having met the Union’s criteria for legal assistance.

Our involvement won’t always result in court action, or even your Regional Office stepping in on your behalf. You might simply need advice on how best to proceed.

Depending on the details of your particular case, and whether you meet the Union’s criterial for legal advice and assistance, the process of recovering your fees may mean your regional Official writing and negotiating on your behalf, or it may mean our in house solicitor providing assistance to you in preparing a case to lodge in the small claims court. This may include the reimbursement of court fees paid out if your claim or enforcement attempts are unsuccessful.

The first step is getting in contact with your Regional Office.

How the fee recovery process works

In many cases, simply having a conversation with the other party about the issue can be enough to resolve things. Your Regional Office will offer you advice from the outset, giving you the tools to approach the dispute yourself where appropriate.

After you first contact your Regional Office, you will usually be required to fill out a short legal advice and assistance form (known as an LAAS request form), where you will need to answer a few brief questions on who you are and who you are claiming against.

You will also need to attach a written statement setting out exactly what happened, as well as the events and dates. And you’ll be asked to include any other supporting evidence that you have – including records of all relevant discussions, agreements and contracts where possible.

The next step will be your Regional Office raising the dispute with the other party on your behalf. This can take different forms depending on your particular case, but will often result in an official letter being sent from the MU to the other party, giving them fourteen days to respond.

After this, the Regional Official will either enter into negotiations with the other party on your behalf – or if this does not resolve the dispute, pass the case on to the Union’s In-House Solicitor who will continue to work with you, assuming you meet the criteria for legal assistance.

The In-House Solicitor will then also try to resolve the issue through correspondence with the other party. If this does not result in a solution, they will advise you on the merits of your potential claim, and should you wish to take it further, help you to prepare and pursue a case through the small claims court.

The small claims court is designed for you to represent yourself, so we would not attend with you, but we can advise you up to the hearing itself and help you with subsequent enforcement action if your claim succeeds.

Giving yourself a fighting chance

The best way to protect yourself in any engagement situation is to make sure that you always have it in writing.

Although all kinds of evidence can be used to prove that you had a pre-existing agreement – from verbal conversations, to emails and whatsapp chats – a properly prepared and completed contract will give you the best chance of making a successful claim should any issue arise.

MU members have access to a number of different contracts, and can contact their Regional Office for free advice on using these and other contracts correctly.

Find out more about contracts and the MU Contract Advisory Service.