Unfair and Wrongful Dismissal – information on pricing

This is a guide to the likely costs involved in pursuing or contesting claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunal. For more information on what these entail, see our standard note “Dismissal Cases”.

If you formally instruct us to act for you, we will provide more precise and personalised costs information. 

For the most part, unfair and wrongful dismissal cases are relatively straightforward and, unless settled beforehand, are generally determined in an Employment Tribunal hearing lasting a day or two, although the process can take many months from start to finish (see “Timescale” below.)

THE TOTAL COST OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The total cost depends on the amount of work that we have to invest in the matter.  No two cases are the same. This means that we cannot quote a fixed fee for every case.

It is convenient to divide the cost into three:

  1. Preparation for the hearing;
  2. Representation at the hearing; and
  3. Dealing with the outcome.

 

1. Preparation for the hearing

 

The stages that arise in every case are these:

  • Acting for the Claimant
  • Taking your instructions and advising you on the merits of your claim;
  • Investigating the background to the matter;
  • Collating evidence and paperwork;
  • Preparing the ET1 Claim Form and Particulars of Claim;
  • Reviewing the ET3 Response when it is received and taking any further steps as a consequence;
  • Preparing a Schedule of Loss;
  • Seeking a negotiated outcome;
  • Disclosing documents to the Respondent;
  • Considering the Respondent’s documentation received;
  • Agreeing the bundle of documents for the hearing;
  • Preparing and exchanging witness statements;
  • Reviewing the Respondent’s witness statements and taking further steps as a consequence;
  • Agreeing a list of issues, chronology and/or cast list;
  • Preparing for the hearing (perhaps by instructing counsel).

 

Acting for the Respondent

  • Reviewing the ET1 Claim Form;
  • Taking your instructions and advising you on the merits of your Response;
  • Investigating the background to the matter;
  • Collating evidence and paper work;
  • Preparing the ET3 Response and Grounds of Resistance;
  • Reviewing the Schedule of Loss;
  • Seeking a negotiated outcome;
  • Disclosing documents to the Claimant;
  • Considering the Claimant’s documentation received;
  • Agreeing the bundle of documents for the hearing;
  • Preparing bundles for hearing;
  • Preparing and exchanging witness statements;
  • Reviewing the Claimant’s witness statements and taking further steps as a consequence;
  • Agreeing a list of issues, chronology and/or cast list;
  • Preparing for the hearing (perhaps by instructing counsel).

 

Experience shows that, for a relatively straightforward unfair or wrongful dismissal case culminating in a 1-day hearing, the total costs to that stage of the process that you would incur would usually be in the range £4-8000 for Claimants and £5-10,000 for Respondents.

When the issues in your case have been clarified, we will provide you with a more detailed estimate of the costs we think you will incur at each stage of the proceedings.

Some clients prefer to present their own cases and to call on us for help as required at certain stages of the proceedings.  Our charges are then determined by reference to the time spent and the applicable hourly rate.

 

Matters that can increase the cost

These matters can increase the time spent on the case and, consequently, the total cost

  • The case raises complex legal issues;
  • The claim is one of automatic unfair dismissal (eg whistleblowing) or includes other complaints (eg discrimination);
  • There is extensive paperwork;
  • There are numerous or expert witnesses;
  • The other party is unrepresented;
  • You or others do not deal promptly with our enquiries and requests;
  • You or others make demands of us that go beyond what is reasonable;
  • The Tribunal fixes a preliminary hearing;
  • There are applications to the Tribunal;
  • There are protracted settlement negotiations (with the other side and/or ACAS);
  • The hearing is postponed or lasts longer than anticipated.

 

2. Representation at the hearing

 

We would usually suggest that specialist counsel (a barrister) be briefed to represent you at the hearing. See our standard note “Instructing Counsel”.

Barristers’ daily and hourly rates vary significantly, depending on their experience.  A day’s brief fee could be £750 for a newly qualified barrister or run into many thousands of pounds for Queens Counsel. An unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal claim would not normally justify briefing counsel at the upper end of this range. We would want to discuss with you the seniority of the barrister whom we instruct and always give you a choice.

Should you wish it, if the matter is relatively straightforward and we have availability, we might be able to represent you at the hearing. The cost of our doing so is likely to be more than a junior barrister would charge

 

3. Dealing with the outcome

 

Sometimes there is little more to be done, once the hearing is concluded. Often, the decision will be delayed and sent to us by post, with extensive reasons, perhaps not until several weeks later.

The fees estimated about under “Preparation for the hearing” would include reporting the outcome to you. However, additional costs would be chargeable if you require our assistance in connection with

  • the bringing or defending of an appeal;
  • the enforcement of any award.

 

TIMESCALE

Before a claimant is able to issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal, he/she must first refer the matter to ACAS, who will seek to assist the parties in negotiating a settlement. This is called “Early Conciliation”.  Usually a month is allowed for this process and then, if there has been no settlement, ACAS will issue the certificate that the Claimant requires to commence a claim in the Tribunal.

Following the cut back in Employment Tribunal staff, it can then take two months for an ET1 claim form to be processed and sent out the Respondent.

Typically, in a straightforward case, the Tribunal will, at the same time, fix a 1 or 2-day hearing, perhaps for 3-6 months ahead and also specify a timescale for matters leading up to it such as

  • exchange of lists of documents;
  • delivery of copies between the parties;
  • service (by the Claimant) of a Schedule of Loss;
  • preparation of bundles of documents for the hearing;
  • exchange of witness statements.

 

If an Employment Judge thinks that the paperwork indicates that there are issues that need to be considered before the final hearing, he/she might fix a preliminary hearing (sometimes held by way of conference call) for a few weeks ahead.

As noted above, once the hearing is finished, a Tribunal will often “reserve” its decision and post the outcome to the parties, but maybe not until some weeks later.

When all these factors are added together, a contested but straightforward unfair or wrongful dismissal case could take upwards of 9 months from the issue of the ET1 Claim Form to the receipt of the judgement and reasons. This period could be extended if hearings have to be postponed for any reason.

 

THE BASIS FOR OUR CHARGES

We charge an hourly rate of £200 for Claimants and £260 for Respondents.

 

OUR EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS

Malcolm Lawrence handles our Employment Tribunal work. A partner in the firm, he qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and has specialised in employment work for over 20 years. Between 2003 and 2005 he held a position as part time Employment Tribunal Chairman, sitting in London Central.

 

DISBURSEMENTS AND VAT

All the figures given above will be subject to the addition of VAT.  In addition to our costs, we will normally charge you for any out of pocket expenses (“disbursements”).  These might include counsel’s fees, travelling and parking expenses and maybe a doctor’s or other expert’s fees. VAT will usually be payable.

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