Indicative prices for bringing or defending claims for Unfair Dismissal / Wrongful Dismissal
This is our main basis for chargingfor legal support for Employment Tribunal Claims:
- Hourly rates based on the amount of time spent;
- Lead fee-earner rate @£295 – £350 plus VAT per hour (15+ years of legal experience);
- Support fee-earner rate @£100 – £250 plus VAT per hour (paralegal or junior solicitor).
As each case is different, it is not possible to provide absolute certainty as to fees but we can provide Indicative average costs for different levels of complexity of cases.
Indicative Fees to cover the Key Preparation Stages * (see below as to what this includes)
A: For a Simple case: £5,000 (excluding VAT and disbursements)
Estimated Final hearing: half a day or less
B: For a case of Medium complexity: £12,000 (excluding VAT and disbursements)
Estimated Final hearing: 1 – 2 days
C: For a case of High complexity: £17,500 (excluding VAT and disbursements)
Estimated Final hearing: 3 or more days
In addition to the indicative charges above, there would be:
- an additional charge for attending a Tribunal Hearing of £1,250 per full day (a full day being 9am to 4.30pm at Tribunal and including travel time – fees pro rata for part days) (excluding VAT) OR
- Counsel’s fees to attend on your behalf. (Counsel would be instructed by agreement with you and their fees would depend on experience of the advocate and the complexity of the claims).Indicative time-estimates for final hearings for each level of complexity are given above.
- Any disbursements that arise, which are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as postage, copying costs, travel costs and the like. We would not normally expect that such to exceed £200. At present, Employment Tribunals do not operate a fee claim structure, but this is under review. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
*Key Preparation Stages (Covered in Indicative Fees)
The indicative fees set out above cover all of the work in relation to the following preparatory stages:
- Taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely compensation (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change)
- Entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
- Preparing claim or response
- Reviewing and advising on claim or response from other party
- Exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process
- Preparing or considering a schedule of loss
- Exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents
- Taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses
- Preparing / agreeing bundle of documents
- Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements
- Preparation for Final Hearing, including instructions to Counsel (if applicable)
The stages set out above are an indication and if some of stages above are not required, the fee will be reduced. You may wish to handle the claim yourself and only have our advice in relation to some of the stages. This can also be arranged on your individual needs.
Factors that would make a case ‘simple’:
- Undisputed important facts relating to the claim or the defence
- The claim relates to a short time-frame
- Only one witness is involved for each part to the claim
- There are only a small number of documents to consider (less than 100 pages)
- A final hearing has been set with a time estimate for hearing of half a day or less in the Employment Tribunal
Factors that would make a case more ‘complex’:
- Significant dispute as to the facts of the claim or defence
- The claim relates to a lengthy period of time and as such, the amount of evidence (including witnesses) and documentation required is increased (for example, one year or more)
- If there are alleged failures to comply with ACAS pre-claims conciliation procedures
- If there are alleged failures to present the claim(s) or a defence within the statutory time limits, so that applications are made for an extension or time, or to strike out a claim or defence
- If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim
- Defending claims that are brought by litigants in person
- Complex preliminary issues, for example, such as whether the claimant is disabled or whether a ‘protected disclosure’ has been made (whistleblowing) – if this is not agreed by the parties
- Where additional preliminary or direction hearings are scheduled by the Employment Tribunal ahead of a final hearing
- The number of witnesses and quantity of documents relevant to the claim (1 or 2 witnesses for each party would be standard with one small A4 binder of relevant documents)
- There are multiple parties to a claim or to the defence of a claim
- If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if an employee has been dismissed for whistleblowing or due to pregnancy
- Allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal
- Where there are cross-claims for breach of contract made by the employer against the claimant
- Where witness orders are required in order to compel attendance of individuals to give evidence to the Employment Tribunal
- Where there is non-compliance by a party with the directions of the Employment Tribunal, so that additional applications need to be made to the Tribunal in this respect
- Where there are complex calculations to be undertaken regarding losses (for example pension loss) and matters relevant to compensation and remedy
- Where a separate remedy hearing is scheduled after a successful final hearing of a claim
- Claims that involve novel or complex points of law or facts
- The final hearing has been listed with a time estimate of multiple days
- Making or defending a costs application
Stages of an Employment Tribunal Process:
Employment Tribunal claims generally follow a similar format, and some elements are common to most claims. These are as follows:
- The use of the ACAS pre-claims conciliation process ahead of commencing formal legal action. This is a free to use service provided by ACAS to assist parties in trying to resolve their differences without the need for litigation. In order to start legal action, it is usual to require ACAS to certify that a claimant has contacted ACAS for this purpose
- (For claimants) The careful drafting and preparation of an Employment Tribunal Claim Form (known as an ET1 form). This form sets out the details about the parties and the employment, the main facts of the claims, and the remedy sought
- (For respondents) The careful drafting and preparation of an Employment Tribunal Response Form (known as an ET3 form). This form sets out the position of the employer and confirms whether or not the claims are defended. If so, the main grounds of the defence are given.
- Exchange of relevant documents – each party has to gather documents relevant to the issues in the claims and provide copies of these to each other in advance of a final hearing
- The preparation of a hearing bundle of documents, paginated and put together in a sensible order for use at the Tribunal hearing. This is often undertaken by the employer.
- Preparation and exchange of witness statements – each party has to prepare detailed written statements containing all of the evidence they wish to put before the Employment Tribunal, and exchange these ahead of a final hearing with each other. These statements will normally cross refer to any relevant documents
- The preparation by the claimant of a ‘schedule of loss’ that sets out the value of the claims being made and the methods and basis for calculation. This schedule is used to pursue an award for compensation should the claims be successful but may also aid parties to find a settlement ahead of a final hearing
- Attendance at a final hearing of the claims. Sometimes, a final hearing will deal with all aspects, including remedy (compensation) if the claims succeed. Where there is insufficient time, or more complex issues (so that the Tribunal gives it decision in writing subsequent to a hearing), a separate remedy hearing may be arranged
- At the final hearing, the Tribunal will hear the evidence of the parties, consider the documents and hear legal arguments on the legal and factual issues to be decided
Additional Elements of the Employment Tribunal Claims Process:
In addition to these standard stages of an Employment Tribunal claim of unfair / wrongful dismissal, other matters may arise and require additional work. This could include:
- Exploring settlement wherever possible, and negotiating with the other party, including preparing of settlement documents and liaison with ACAS if appropriate
- Additional hearings at the Employment Tribunal – sometimes by telephone but often attendance in person is required, to deal with preliminary issues arising (for example, time limits and extensions, strike out applications (where the merits are alleged to be lacking) etc.
- Additional directions and orders from the Employment Tribunal may be given, for example, an obligation to provide further and better particulars of a claim or a defence or to produce further details as to losses and remedy sought, or the preparation of an agreed chronology of events or statement of facts and issues
- The joining of other parties to an existing claim, either because that party has an interest in the claim, or there are common issues to be considered
- The requirement to submit written submissions to the Tribunal at the end of the hearing for the purposes of the Tribunal Judge(s) to consider their decision
- A hearing set to consider an application for costs, made by one party against the other following the conclusion of a claim
How long will my matter take?
The time that it takes from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take 4- 8 weeks. If your claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, your case is likely to take 26 or more weeks, depending on the availability of the Employment Tribunal to hear your claim. This is just an estimate and we would of course be able to give you more information as matters proceeded.
Other funding options:
Before instructing a legal firm to bring an Employment Tribunal claim against their (former) employer, it is advisable to consider what other funding options might be available. This could include:
- Legal services provided by a Trade Union (or similar association). If you are a member of a Trade Union, it is possible that your membership will provide access to legal support in the event of a workplace difficulties arising
- Employment claims insurance – some home insurance and other policies may provide access to legal advice as part of the cover offered. Where this is potentially available, it is important to contact the insurer at the earliest opportunity in order to make an application for cover, in order to avoid invalidating any claim.Where legal assistance is available through this approach, it is often possible to instruct a solicitor of your choice (rather than being compelled to use the insurer’s panel solicitors) although the solicitor would need to accept the insurer’s terms
- Whilst we do not offer a ‘no-win-no-fee’ arrangement for this kind of work, such arrangements are sometimes available through other firms
- There may also be pro-bono support available through pro-bono schemes
- Finally, it should be noted that the Employment Tribunal process is intended to be accessible to lay-persons and legal representation is not mandatory! Moreover, legal guidance is free to access from ACAS through its website and its telephone advisors.