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Employers & employment tribunals

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Information for employers about defending claims before an employment tribunal by an employee for unfair or wrongful dismissal 

Steps involved

A typical unfair or wrongful dismissal case:

  • Interview employer to consider all aspects of the employment issues with the employee, consideration of funding options and taking initial witness statements from officers and staff
  • Advise on, and assisting with, internal employment grievance, disciplinary or capability procedures as appropriate
  • Obtain and review key information such as contracts of employment, pay slips and correspondence relating to the issues with the employee
  • Assist the employer through the mandatory, pre-claim, ACAS conciliation process
  • Draft the employment tribunal response form
  • Represent the employer at a case management hearing
  • Comply with employment tribunal directions, such as disclosure of documents, production of a hearing bundle of documents, and the production and exchange of witness statements
  • Enter into commercial negotiations to settle the matter, to try and avoid the need for court proceedings
  • Attend the hearing with the employer, or arranging representation on the employer’s behalf
  • Advise the employer on the outcome of the case

These are the basic steps in a typical unfair or wrongful dismissal case and proceedings can often be more complicated. In fact, there is no such thing as a typical employment tribunal case. The matter could vary from a simple unfair dismissal case with one or two witnesses and very few disputed facts, to an extremely complicated matter with multiple witnesses, complex legal and factual points in dispute, and additional causes of action (such as discrimination, whistleblowing allegations, insolvency issues, or multiple claimants).

Every case is different and there are a whole host of variables which need to be taken into account in giving you a proper cost estimate.

How we charge for our services 

We charge according to our hourly rates, to which we add VAT. Please refer to our biographical information which contains details of the members of the team who may be involved in dealing with the matter.

Additional costs/disbursements 

At present there are no tribunal fees for issuing proceedings, although this is expected to change in the future. 

Typically, we would instruct a barrister to represent you at a tribunal hearing, and you will need to pay their fees to us in advance of the hearing. 

The cost of a simple unfair or wrongful dismissal case

Given the variance in the type of claims we work on. it is difficult to provide an average cost. A simple claim would be one:

  • Where the employer is privately paying, promptly provides most of the documentation and provides clear and timely instructions
  • Where the employer goes through internal procedures (such as disciplinary or capability procedures) with only a small amount of guidance and assistance from us
  • Where the only issue is unfair and/or wrongful dismissal
  • Where there are few facts in dispute
  • Where there are limited settlement negotiations
  • Where there are no complex legal issues that need to be resolved
  • Where there are only a small number of witnesses (up to 3) with modest witness statements
  • Where there is only one brief case management hearing by telephone
  • Where the tribunal hearing is limited to one day and is not postponed
  • Where there is no review of the judgement or appeal against the judgement

In such cases, our typical costs are likely to be in the region of £3500 to £5000 plus VAT, with a cost of £800 to £1600 plus VAT for a barrister preparing for, and representing you at, the tribunal hearing.

The timescale for this type of matter would be about 2 to 5 months from issue of proceedings.

The cost of a more complex claim

In many cases, there are factors which complicate an unfair or wrongful dismissal case, and which therefore takes further time to resolve.

Therefore, a typical case which is likely to be listed for a two-day hearing will often cost in the region of £6000 to £9500 plus VAT with a cost of £2000 to £3500 plus VAT for a barrister preparing for, and representing you at, the tribunal hearing.

More expensive claims 

Some cases are much more complex. Claims with aggravating factors, such as discrimination and alleged whistleblowing, are often listed for hearings of 3 days or more and typically require pre-hearings to determine preliminary issues. Costs can be significantly higher and we would typically instruct a more senior barrister to represent you at the hearing. It is not realistic to provide you with the typical costs of such cases, but you would receive from us a breakdown of likely costs at an early stage after we have taken your initial instructions.

Costs generally 

Please refer to our biographical information which contains details of the members of the team who may be involved in dealing with the matter. The team which undertakes employment work comprises:

  • Paralegals with 1 to 3 years’ experience – £150 per hour plus VAT of £30. Total £180/hour
  • Chartered legal executives with over 4 years’ experience – £200 per hour plus VAT of £40. Total £240/hour
  • Qualified solicitors with 0 to 15 years’ plus post qualification experience – ranging from £200 per hour plus VAT of £40.00. Total £240/hour to £225 per hour plus VAT of £45.00. Total £270.00/hour
  • The team is supervised by Chris Wills, Jon Dunkley and Simon Bean, each of whom have over 15 years’ post qualification experience working in employment litigation. Our hourly rates for supervising partners is £250 per hour plus VAT of £50. Total £300/hour

Depending on your circumstances and requirements, we charge on the basis of hourly rates or fixed fees (which are calculated by reference to hourly rates, complexity and urgency). VAT is payable at the prevailing rate.

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