Unfair and Wrongful Dismissal

Detailed below is Parfitt Cresswell's guide to the likely costs involved in pursuing or contesting claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal claims in an Employment Tribunal. For more information on what these might entail, see our standard note “Dismissal Cases”.

If you find yourself choosing Parfitt Cresswell to represent you, we will provide more precise and personalised costs information.

In most cases, 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, however in some cases the process can take many months from start to finish. (See “Timescale” below).

THE TOTAL COST OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The total cost depends entirely on the amount of work that we have to invest in the matter. Due to the complex and varying nature of these types of cases, we cannot quote a fixed fee for every case.

It is convenient to divide the cost into three:

Preparation for the hearing.

Representation at the hearing.

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 paperwork;

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 can be: £4-8000 for Claimants and £5-10,000 for Respondents.

Once the issues in your case has been clarified, we will be able to 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 only call on us for help as and when 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 even reach 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 choose to, and if the matter is relatively straightforward and our team have availability, we might be able to represent you at the hearing. The cost of our representation likely to be far less 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.

Once the hearing is concluded, sometimes there is still some work to be done. Often in cases like these, the decision will be delayed and sent to us by post, perhaps not arriving for several weeks after the hearing has concluded.

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

the bringing of, or defending an appeal;

the enforcement of any award.

TIMESCALE

Before being able to issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal a claimant must first refer the matter to ACAS, whose role is to assist the parties in negotiating any possible settlement. This process is known as “Early Conciliation”. Often a month is allowed for this process and then, if there has been no settlement reached, ACAS will issue the certificate that the Claimant requires to commence a claim in the Tribunal.

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

Typically, in most straightforward cases, the Tribunal will, at the same time, fix a 1 or 2-day hearing, perhaps for some time in 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 considers that the paperwork indicates that there are issues that need to be addressed before the hearing, he/she may fix a preliminary hearing. Sometimes this may be held via a conference call, and will usually be arranged for a few weeks ahead of the final hearing.

As detailed above, once the hearing has been completed, a Tribunal will often “reserve” (hold on to) it’s decision and post the outcome to the parties, often not until some weeks after the hearing has finished.

Taking into account every and any possible path this process could take, a contested but straightforward unfair or wrongful dismissal case could take upwards of 9 months. From the first issue of the ET1 Claim form to the receipt of the judgement and reasons, up until the final hearing and its outcome. However this period is subject to potential extensions 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

Philip Luff handles our Employment Tribunal work. He’s an experienced Employment Solicitor with a proven track record of helping both businesses and individuals achieve the best possible outcomes for their work related issues.

He provides practical advice on the full range of employment matters, including regularly advising on settlement agreements, the resolution of workplace disputes and employment tribunal litigation.

DISBURSEMENTS AND VAT

All the figures given above will be subject to the addition of VAT.  As well as this, in addition to our costs, we will normally charge you for any out of pocket expenses (“disbursements”).  These can include counsel’s fees, travelling/ parking expenses and perhaps a doctor’s or other expert’s fees, if they should prove to be essential to the hearing. VAT will usually be payable.