The circumstances in which our clients come to us for help are individual to each of them. We work with our clients’ individual needs and requirements – no two employment situations are exactly the same. We consider each of our clients’ individual circumstances and our fees reflect the particular requirements and complexities of their matter.
Because of this we need to understand the specifics of your claim before providing you with an individual estimate of the cost of us helping you. Our fees for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims depend on a wide range of factors such as:
• whether an agreement is reached prior to reaching a tribunal hearing
• the complexity of the legal or factual arguments
• the need for expert evidence or specialised advice to be obtained in support of your claim
• whether there is an impending limitation date which therefore requires immediate action to be taken
• the extent of the evidence and documentation to be considered and prepared including the number of witnesses
• the presence of allegations of discrimination or whistleblowing which are linked to the dismissal
• whether your claim requires us to consider novel aspects of the law
• the length of any tribunal hearing
What is involved in a wrongful or unfair dismissal claim?
Most of the wrongful or unfair dismissal claims with which we help clients follow a standard process which we have broken down into 8 key stages to help you understand what will happen at each stage and the potential costs associated with the work we will need to do for you.
1- Assessment (Potential stage fees £500 – £2,500 plus VAT)
We will undertake an assessment of your eligibility to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and the strength of your case, looking at the prospects of your claim succeeding. We will need to understand what happened and look at the key evidence you have to support your claim.
2- Loss Assessment (Potential stage fees £500 – £2,000 plus VAT)
To be able to advise you in respect of the value of your claim should it proceed to tribunal, or the amount of any settlement that might be agreed prior to tribunal, we will need to undertake an assessment of any financial loss you have sustained (and may sustain in the future) as a result of the dismissal. We will need to review and assess any documentation you have which supports the losses you have, or will incur. Typically this involves conducting a review of your earnings and terms and conditions of employment; as well as your prospects of securing alternative work (and the time this may take).
3- Pre-claim conciliation (Potential stage fees £2,000 – £5,000 plus VAT)
In many matters an early step is to approach your former employer to outline your claim and ask for their response. In some circumstances this can lead to a settlement being reached without the need for formal proceedings to be issued to the employment tribunal. We will consider and advise you about any response from your employer and any settlement which may be proposed at this point. (It is of course possible that a settlement may be reached at any subsequent stage in this process.)
In this phase we will also take you through the ACAS Early Conciliation process, which is a pre-requisite to lodging a claim.
4- Drafting the Claim Form (ET1) (Potential stage fees £2,500 – £4,000 plus VAT)
If we are unable to agree a position with your former employer we will need to prepare the claim form to initiate your tribunal application outlining your case and the nature of the dispute (Form ET1).
5- Disclosure of documents (Potential stage fees £2,500 – £5,000 plus VAT)
You will be required to disclose all documentary evidence that is relevant to your claim. This may include, amongst many other things, video footage, meeting minutes, emails, diary entries, and letters received from your employer. This evidence will need to be reviewed, organised and catalogued before being sent to your former employer. They, in turn, will send you their documentary evidence, which will need to be considered. A final consolidated “bundle” of relevant documents for the tribunal will need to be prepared, This will be paginated and indexed (although it is frequently ordered by the tribunal that the Respondent to the Claim should do this) and multiple copies will need to be provided for the tribunal’s use.
6- Preparation of witness statements (Potential stage fees £2,500 – £10,000 plus VAT)
Detailed written statements will need to be prepared for all witnesses who support your claim, including any other relevant co-workers. This includes your own witness statement, which will be a critically important document. The witness statements need to cross-refer to the documents in the bundle. The cost at this stage will depend very much on how many witnesses you have. It will also depend on the complexity and length of the statement(s).
7- Preparation for the hearing (Potential stage fees £1,000 – £2,500 plus VAT)
This stage involves liaising with the barrister for your hearing, preparing any other documents ordered by the tribunal (such as a chronology or cast list) and dealing with all logistical matters (e.g. seeking to agree the running order of the hearing, dealing with late disclosure, conducting calls / conferences with the barrister, fielding last minute queries etc.)
8- Tribunal Hearing (Potential stage fees £5,000 – £10,000 plus VAT, assuming a 1-2 day hearing)
Typically unfair/wrongful dismissal cases last 1-2 days but in more complex cases (for instance where there was a whistleblowing or discrimination aspect to the Claim) it would be likely to be longer. The potential stage fees above would be inclusive of the fees for the barrister for the hearing, on the basis that a relatively junior barrister was instructed and that they attended without a solicitor present.
How we calculate our charges
Our fees are charged based on an agreed hourly rate structure dependent on the experience of the individual working on your matter and the complexity of the issues we need to address. Our usual hourly rate ranges (exclusive of VAT and disbursements) are £135 to £460.
In appropriate cases, we may offer discounted rates or a fixed fee option. In fixed fee cases we will assess your circumstances and the work necessary for your claim and provide you with a fixed fee quote. Where we do this we will set out what work we will do for that fee. If additional complexities arise these may incur additional costs, but we will discuss this with you if we feel this approach is suitable to your matter.
What other costs might there be?
In addition to our fees there may also be additional costs which are payable to third parties who help us to prepare and support your case. We call these disbursements. We handle the payment of these on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. We will inform you of any significant disbursements before they are incurred. Typically in an unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal claim these may be for:
• Barrister’s fees: As outlined above, we have included the barristers’ fees for the tribunal hearing itself. If additional work was required from the barrister (such as preparing a written advice on prospects of success) this would be charged separately. The normal hourly rates of the barristers we would instruct on such matters would be in the region of £150 – £300 (plus VAT)
• Expert reports or expert witnesses: The extent of any fees will be dependent on the type of expert relevant to your matter, whether a report is required and similarly whether they need to attend any hearing to give evidence in person. The most common expert evidence that is required for an unfair dismissal case is from a medical practitioner, for instance if it is necessary to demonstrate that you are unable to secure new employment due to a health condition. Typical fees for a straightforward medical report would be between £750 – £1,500 (plus VAT).
All of the costs set out above will vary depending on the factors set out above. We have set out below a couple of case studies to give you a greater understanding of how complexity could affect the costs associated with your matter. Even if you win your unfair or wrongful dismissal case you should not expect to recover your costs from your former employer, as costs are not normally awarded to the winning party in employment tribunals. A costs award is exceptional, and based on unreasonable conduct of the other party.
You may have legal expenses insurance, perhaps through a home or motor policy, or funding via a trade union or membership organisation, which may be able to assist with some of your costs. It is important that you check whether you do and then we can liaise with them at the earliest possible stage to seek an appropriate contribution from them.
How long will your claim take?
The time it takes from you initially contacting us to reaching a resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved and the complexity of the issues to be addressed. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation it is likely to take up to 12 weeks. If your claim proceeds to a full tribunal hearing it may take 9-12 months (or potentially longer).
These are just guidelines to provide you with an indication of the likely length of your claim. When we have discussed your specific circumstances we will be able to advise you more clearly on what to expect. Similarly, if complexities arise throughout the course of your claim we will advise you about any impact this might have.
How we can help in your individual matter
We understand that your situation and the circumstances around your dismissal are unique to you. It can be a very stressful and emotional time, but we will work with you to ensure you understand what to expect at all stages of your matter. We will always give you an individual estimate at the start of your claim, taking account of your specific circumstances and explaining what work we will conduct as part of that estimate. If your matter has unexpected complications we will discuss these with you in good time and the potential effect they will have on our fees or additional costs that will be incurred.
You can find details of our experienced team of lawyers here on our website.
We acted for a Head of Sales who was dismissed for gross misconduct, when it was alleged that he lied to a client. He had less than two years’ service so could not bring a claim for unfair dismissal, but he had a claim for his unpaid notice. We brought his claim for wrongful dismissal in the employment tribunal and secured his notice pay (the tribunal deciding that he had not lied). He was awarded his full notice pay of £25,000 (which is the maximum award for breach of contract in the employment tribunal). Costs in this matter were approximately £13,000.
We acted for an employee in the transport sector who was demoted by reason of a removal of certain of his duties. He resigned, treating himself as constructively dismissed, and succeeded in his tribunal claim, but with a 100% reduction to his compensation on the basis that the tribunal concluded that he would have resigned anyway. We submitted an application for reinstatement, and, after that, the claim settled for in excess of £75,000. Fees were approximately £30,000 (plus VAT) including Counsel’s fees.