The most common types of claim brought in the Employment Tribunal are for wrongful dismissal (relating to whether an employee received the correct amount of notice) and unfair dismissal (relating to the reasons for a dismissal, and/or the manner in which it was handled).
No two cases are exactly the same and there are a wide range of factors that could affect the complexity, and therefore the cost, of your case. Examples of such variables are set out further down this page.
The more information we have about your individual circumstances, the better we will be able to provide you with a realistic cost estimate for handling your case. The purpose of this page, however, is to provide some ‘typical’ prices for bringing or defending wrongful and unfair dismissal claims.
Initial Consultation, Assessment and Formal Engagement
The cost figures set out on this page are only intended to give a broad indication of the cost of employment litigation. They are not to be taken as a binding quotation. In order to obtain a more bespoke cost estimate, please contact us and we will be happy to provide an initial free telephone consultation (up to 30 minutes) in order to discuss your case. This will enable us to gain an overview of your dispute and the level of complexity, and also address any immediate issues such as an imminent deadline for submitting or responding to a Tribunal claim.
If you wish us to undertake a more detailed analysis of your case, (in order to help determine whether or not to bring, defend or settle a claim), our fees will be approximately £500+Vat. This will include taking your instructions on the background to the dispute, a review of key documentation, preliminary advice on the merits and value of your case, and discussing a basic strategy.
If you confirm your instructions for us to represent you, we shall send you a formal letter of engagement, confirming the scope of the work and your individual fee estimate, together with matters such as timescales, who will have responsibility for your case, and our complaints procedure in the event that you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service.
Costs for Wrongful and Unfair Dismissal Claims
Our typical prices for brining or defending wrongful and unfair dismissal claims would be as follows:
|Simple Case||£2,000 to £5,000 +Vat||One-day hearing, maximum one witness on each side, to resolve a single issue over notice pay or determining compensation for unfair dismissal.|
|Standard Case||£5,000 to £8,000 + Vat||An ‘average’ unfair dismissal claim involving a two or three-day hearing, standard preparation of documents and 3 to 5 witnesses in total.|
|High Complexity Case||£8,000 to £20,000 + Vat||Four or more-day hearing, large bundle of documents, multiple witnesses and dealing with various preliminary stages.|
The actual costs will be based upon the amount of time that we spend undertaking work on your behalf, calculated at an hourly charging rate of between £180 and £220 per hour, plus Vat.
We would expect the majority of disputes we deal with to be classed as ‘Standard Cases’, but factors that will increase the complexity of a case may include:
- The inclusion of additional claims (e.g. if the dismissal in connected with alleged discriminatory behaviour or a whistleblowing disclosure);
- The number of allegations (e.g. a constructive unfair dismissal claim based upon multiple claims of bullying over a long period will likely be more complex than a case concerning a single allegation of gross misconduct.)
- The volume of documents and witnesses involved (e.g. if there have been multiple disciplinary/grievance stages and internal appeals hearings);
- Interim applications to the Employment Tribunal (e.g. if it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim);
- Complex preliminary issues (e.g. if it necessary to attend an initial hearing to determine whether the claimant is disabled before the case can proceed);
- Cases requiring the parties to obtain medical evidence;
- Dealing with opponents who are not legally represented;
- Cases involving unusual points of law; and/or
- Making or defending a costs application.
In addition, costs can increase as a result of unforeseen developments such as a hearing date being postponed because of the last-minute unavailability of a party or an Employment Judge.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as a payment for a medical assessment. As Employment Tribunal fees have been abolished, the only disbursement in most cases is for Counsel’s fees i.e. the barrister who will present you at a final hearing.
Counsel’s fees include a ‘Brief Fee’ (covering preparation and the first day of a hearing), plus a ‘Refresher Fee’ for each additional day of the hearing. These fees will vary depending upon the complexity of the case and the experience of the barrister, but in a typical (Standard Complexity) case, we would estimate Counsel’s fees as being a Brief Fee of between £1,750 and £2,250 plus Vat, with a Refresher of between £800 and £1,000 plus Vat.
Whilst it is not possible to list every aspect of work that we undertake in connection with a wrongful or unfair dismissal claim, in a typical case our fees would cover the following key stages:
- taking your detailed instructions regarding the factual background to the dispute and your objectives;
- reviewing all relevant correspondence or documentation;
- consideration and advice on the applicable law and available options;
- advice on the merits and potential value of the claim (this is likely to be reassessed at various stages throughout the case and may be subject to change);
- advice on procedure, risk and strategy;
- entering into pre-claim conciliation with ACAS to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
- drafting and submission of a claim form or a defence to the claim(s);
- reviewing and advising on a claim or response from the other party;
- liaising with the other side and the Employment Tribunal as necessary, and regularly reporting back to you with progress and developments;
- preparation for and conducting a case management Preliminary Hearing with the Tribunal and any other interim hearings as may be required;
- compliance with such directions as may be issued by the Tribunal (e.g. the preparation of a list of issues, chronology, statement of facts, cast list or further particulars);
- exchanging documents with the other party and the preparation of an agreed bundle of documents;
- taking witness evidence, drafting witness statements and agreeing their content;
- exchange of witness statements, reviewing the other party’s statements and considering the need for any additional evidence;
- drafting or considering a schedule of loss (or counter schedule) assessing the value of the claim(s)
- settlement negotiations as appropriate;
- guidance to witnesses on trial preparation; and
- preparation for, and attendance at, a Final Hearing, including instructions to Counsel.
The fee estimates above do not cover any work that might be needed in dealing with an application for Reconsideration or an Appeal against a Tribunal Judgment, or enforcement action to recover compensation that has been awarded by the Tribunal.
How long will my case take?
Employment Tribunals are currently dealing with a back log of claims that were postponed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In normal circumstances, it would be usual to expect perhaps 9 to 12 months before your case was heard by the Tribuanl, but until the backlog is cleared, it will more likely take 12 to 18 months. Many cases do, however, reach a settlement without the need for a final hearing. As such, your case could be resolved much quicker depending upon the stage at which the parties are able to agree terms.
Recovery of legal fees and liability for your opponent’s fees
It is important to note that Employment Tribunals rarely make awards of costs. This means that, even if you are wholly successful in the case, it is unlikely that your opponent will be ordered to reimburse any of your legal fees, disbursements or the cost of your own time in preparing for the case. The reverse is also true, so that you will not likely be ordered to pay your opponent’s legal fees if you lose the case.
The exception to this rule (where a Tribunal may make a costs order) is if the Tribunal considers that a party (or their representative) has behaved vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the conduct of the proceedings. We will, of course, ensure that we do not behave in such a manner and will notify you if, at any stage, we believe that a certain course of action may place you at risk of an adverse costs award.
We would advise you to check if you are entitled to any form of third-party funding to help with your legal costs. This might include legal expenses insurance (sometimes included within a household or general commercial insurance policy) or cover for employment claims provided by a trade union or professional body.
Please note that, if you are intending to rely upon funding from a third party, there may be restrictions upon which solicitors are instructed and strict requirements in terms of promptly notifying the insurer of the potential claim and reporting progress. You should check the terms of your insurance policy or any alternative funding scheme as a matter of urgency.