Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Disclaimer of Interest Definition:

A formal written statement by an interested person as to the severance of that interest for all purposes.

Related Terms: Union, Labor Organization, Decertification

Labor Law

A formal statement by an established union that they no longer represent the body of employees for which they were certified; ultimately, that the union cease to exist.

In some instances, since an original collective bargaining agreement, an employer may grow into a multi-jurisdictional entity making it challenging for the incumbent union to adequately represent the evolving membership for the purposes of a collective bargaining unit. One strategy can be a an incumbent union's disclaimer of interest in which the union formally severs the representation of the large body of employees, or a select identifiable group, for the purposes of a single collective bargaining unit and would immediately or concurrently file certification applications to represent smaller employee units or even individual workers/employees.

A disclaimer of interest is an initiative by the union and it differs from a decertification: a petition for decertification is where the employees seek to leave the union, whereas a disclaimer of interest is the union walking away from the group of employees. On the other hand a petition for decertification takes more time especially as it requires a vote of over 50% to ultimately detach the union from the membership.

disclaimer of interest image © Eric IsseléeA disclaimer of interest, like a successful petition for decertification, frees the membership to take independent legal action agsint an employer - no longer obliged to go through the representative body (the union) or subject to the often-plodding and frequently-political grievance process.

A disclaimer of interest must be by the incumbent union in writing and in good faith and clearly state that certified exclusive representative no longer wishes to represent the employees in the unit for which it is the incumbent and exclusive representative.

According to the Federal Labor Relations Authority of the United States:

"Disclaimer of interest: Any labor organization holding exclusive recognition for a unit of employees may disclaim any representational interest in those employees at any time.

"Disclaimers of interest may be filed by the recognized or certified exclusive representative in the following situations:

  • "As a petitioner, a labor organization may file a petition seeking to disclaim any representational interest in a unit for which it is the exclusive representative; (or)
  • "As an incumbent union named in a petition that requests an election or seeks to clarify a matter relating to representation; as an intervenor in a petition that seeks to clarify a matter related to the representation of employees it represented prior to a reorganization or realignment of agency operations.

"To be effective, a disclaimer must be made in good faith, be clear and unequivocal, and leave no doubt that a matter relating to the incumbent’s representation does not exist with respect to the bargaining unit.

"A union’s bare statement is not sufficient to establish that it has abandoned its claim to representation if the surrounding circumstances justify an inference to the contrary. Its conduct, judged in its entirety, must not be inconsistent with its alleged disclaimer."

Property Law

Also, in property law, estate law or income tax law, a with prejudice, on-the-record statement by a interested party as to the ownership or title of disputed goods or realty. Such a step may, under certain circumstances, constitute an abandonment.

Individuals will issue disclaimers of interest in estates for a variety of reasons. For example, a lawyer may find that he was gifted a large amount of money by a deceased for no discernible reason, sometimes to spite deserving beneficiaries disliked by the testator. In these cases, given the conflict of interest, the lawyer would execute a formal disclaimer of interest in the estate, so that the estate can flow to the proper beneficiaries.


  • Barnes, John, The Law of Hockey (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2010),
  • Office of the General Counsel - Federal Labor Relations Authority, Representation Proceedings, Case Handling Manual (2000)

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