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Unfair Dismissal

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Costs in relation to certain Employment Tribunal claims

There are many claims which may be brought in an Employment Tribunal, relating, as the name suggests, to all manner of employment related disputes from claims for unpaid wages to equal pay, from the fairness of dismissal to discrimination.  Each claim is different and has different levels of complexity. We will do our best to give you an idea of the likely costs involved in matters and of factors which might cause the price to change.

In relation to unfair and wrongful dismissal claims we are required to provide generic information about likely costs without reference to the actual facts.  This is presumably because it is thought that these claims are generally more straightforward than, for example, discrimination or equal pay claims and it is therefore easier to provide cost ranges. There is no substitute for getting an actual estimate depending upon the details of an actual case, but we do set out below a range of costs for these matters.

First, we should perhaps explain what these claims are.  An unfair dismissal claim can be brought by an employee if he or she believes that the dismissal itself was unfair.  In most cases the employee will need 2 years of employment in order to bring the claim, although there are some exceptions, particularly where the employee is a whistleblower or has put forward various concerns and believes that he or she has been dismissed as a result of doing so.  

A wrongful dismissal claim is basically a claim for an employee’s contractual notice.  Sometimes employers dismiss an employee without payment. This can be justified in cases of gross misconduct or gross negligence, but of course the factual scenario is often disputed.  

Our pricing for bringing and defending claims for unfair dismissal:

Simple case

£4,000 - £6,000 (excluding VAT)

Medium complexity case

£6,001 - £9,999 (excluding VAT)

High complexity case £10,000 - £15,000 (excluding VAT)
In extreme cases this could be higher.  We would let you know if this applied to your case.

Our pricing for bringing and defending claims for wrongful dismissal:-

Simple case

£1,500 - £3,500 (excluding VAT)

Medium complexity case

£3,501 - £5,999 (excluding VAT)

High complexity case £6,000 - £10,000 (excluding VAT)
In extreme cases this could be higher.  We would let you know if this applied to your case.

Factors that could make a case more complex:

  • Complex preliminary issues, such as whether the person bringing the claim is an employee at all;
  • The number of witnesses and documents;
  • A hearing likely to last longer than 1 day;
  • 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 individuals representing themselves as these often take longer and Tribunals often allow a greater latitude to those representing themselves which in return requires more work to be carried out;
  • Unfair dismissal claims where the employee doesn’t have 2 years’ service but is potentially able to bring a claim under exceptions such as because they have blown the whistle on practices at work;
  • Other linked claims, which can add to the complexity significantly, for example claims for discrimination or equal pay

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to the progression of your matter which are not our actual fees.  These could for example be travel costs or if an outside person or organisation is used it may be their costs.  For example, in some circumstances it may be necessary to get medical reports, or a decision may be made to instruct a barrister either to advise upon the matter or part of it or potentially to represent you at Tribunal.

Barrister’s fees vary widely depending upon the experience of the barrister and to some extent the nature of the case.  Typically a barrister will charge a preparation fee and then a fee for each day spent at Tribunal. The daily rate can range from £500 plus VAT for the most junior barristers to £2,500 plus VAT or more for very experienced barristers.  Again we would liaise with you closely before instructing a barrister and gain a specific fee estimate before doing so.

Key stages

The fees set out above cover the work in relation to all of the following key stages of a claim:

  • Speaking with you or by telephone or meeting with you  to obtain information about the nature of the claim, reviewing the relevant documentation and advising you upon the merits of the claim or defence, potential compensation and other relevant factors in making a decision to proceed with or defend a claim;
  • Entering into discussions before a claim is issued to see whether a settlement can be achieved.  In most cases it is compulsory to make contact with ACAS, a Government funded organisation which is specifically tasked with trying to resolve employment related disputes;
  • Preparing a claim or response;
  • Reviewing and advising upon the claim or response from your opponent;
  • Considering settlement and negotiations throughout the process;
  • Preparing a detailed statement of the sums claimed or analysing such a claim made by your opponent;
  • Preparing for and attending any procedural hearings prior to the main hearing;
  • Gaining from you all documents which have any relevance to the matter, exchanging these with your opponent’s representative (or opponent where not represented), considering the relevance of the documentation disclosed.  Thereafter agreeing those documents which will go before the Tribunal at the Final Hearing;
  • Speaking with witnesses or potential witnesses in order to obtain statements and drafting those statements;
  • Keeping prospects of success under review and considering and analysing documentation disclosed by your opponent and their witness statements;
  • Drafting other documentation required by the Tribunal to enable a smoother hearing and seeking to agree it with your opponent.  This could for example be a list of relevant issues, a chronology, or a list of key people and their roles;
  • Preparation for and attendance at a Final Hearing

It is possible that some of these stages might not happen or indeed that some of them might happen more than once – for example it is not unusual for a Tribunal to have more than one Preliminary Hearing to consider different aspects of the matter.  

What else might be done about costs?

It is not compulsory for individuals to use a solicitor in relation to Employment Tribunal claims or defences.  However, the system is not straightforward and individuals often elect to use a solicitor. As an alternative we can be used for advice at key times in the process with you undertaking the bulk of the work.

It is also worth looking at other funding options.  Quite often employees and ex-employees may have legal expenses insurance attached to a household insurance or other insurance policy.  It is always worth checking this. Sometimes employers may have legal expenses insurance attached to either a specific or more general policy.  Again this is worth checking.

There are some occasions upon which we may be prepared to consider taking on cases for employees on a “no-win, no-fee” basis or applying a low hourly rate but with a mark-up if successful.  In all such cases we would need to review the case in depth before agreeing to do this and there would be a cost for this, typically between £200 - £500 plus VAT.

How long will my matter take?

Most matters are resolved at some stage and clearly the earlier the stage at which resolution occurs the shorter the duration of the matter.  

Pre-claim conciliation which is basically discussions before a claim is issued usually don’t take longer than a month.

If proceedings are issued the employer has 28 days to put a defence in from the time it receives the claim.  Often there are delays in the Tribunal sending out the documentation so this may be longer than 4 weeks from the time that the claim is sent to the Tribunal.

After that we are very much at the mercy of the Employment Tribunals.  At present they are very much under resourced. This is because the Government introduced Tribunal fees which reduced the case load by approximately two-thirds.  The Tribunal resources were scaled down accordingly. The Courts have now decided that the introduction of fees was unlawful because it denied access to justice. There has consequently been a threefold increase in the number of claims but the Tribunal system has not been re-resourced to cope with them.  This means that at present there are significant delays. Cases are often postponed at very short notice as Tribunals list more than one case for a particular Judge on a day on the basis that most will settle – this doesn’t always happen!

Often a Tribunal will decide it wants to have a Preliminary Hearing to look at setting out a timetable and procedure for the matter.  If so, this will usually take place within 3 or 4 months of the matter commencing – but this isn’t always the case. If the matter is a 1 day case it may be listed for a hearing within 2 or 3 months of the Preliminary Hearing, or if there is not a Preliminary Hearing it may take place within 3 to 6 months of the submission of a “defence”.  However, often matters don’t reach a hearing for considerably longer. If the matter is listed for a few days or more it is very unlikely to be heard within 6 months of a “defence” being submitted and could be as long as a year after this or longer still.

Our Team

To see who is on our experienced team, visit our dedicated employment page.

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