Our Pricing – Employment

Bringing and defending claims for unfair or  wrongful dismissal before an Employment Tribunal

Colemans’ employment team routinely act for both employers and employees in relation to defending or bringing claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal. In our experience, most of the time these claims can be dealt with by either explaining to the opposition that they will lose or negotiating a financial settlement that is acceptable to both parties and which avoids incurring the cost, stress and uncertainty of litigation. Where persuasion alone fails, usually the negotiated route is in the best interests of both parties. Furthermore, when it comes to employers dismissing employees, we take the view that prevention is better than a cure and so we encourage all of our employer clients to seek our advice before dismissing an employee, to ensure that they stand the best chance of avoiding a claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal.

Whether acting for employer or employee, our usual practice is to put forward your position on the best technical legal footing possible. When done well, this often prompts the other party to recognise the benefit of resolving the dispute reasonably amicably via settlement (or conceding).

Where it is simply not possible to convince the opposition that they will lose, or agree a settlement, there are strict deadlines for bringing and defending claims in the Employment Tribunal. We can help you either to defend an unfair or wrongful dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal if you are an employer, or bring such a claim if you are an employee.

With effect from 6th December 2018 we are obliged by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority to publish our fees for certain types of work that we do, including bringing and defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. Please note that this fee structure applies only to claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal – if you instruct us in respect of a claim for unfair dismissal which includes an element of discrimination, for example, this fee information will only apply to the unfair dismissal part of the work and you will be responsible for paying additional fees to us in respect of the work relating to the discrimination element of the claim.


Our pricing:

We do not offer fixed fees for employment law work because each claim is different and ought to be treated as such. Instead, we aim to provide advice tailored to each client’s circumstances and the likely outcome of a claim. This assessment is based on an analysis of the facts as presented to us, the evidence available, the likely cost and the likely benefit to the client, whether an employer or employee. We take a pragmatic view when assessing the merits of a client’s case and do not believe in encouraging our clients to pursue matters that are not cost effective and of commercial benefit. We pride ourselves on adding value to our client’s business or personal life and whilst employment disputes can often be emotive, we provide practical professional support to help our clients “see the wood for the trees”.

The information below is intended as guidance as to the level of fees that you can expect to pay for this type of work in a straightforward or “typical” claim (even though there is not really any such thing as a “typical” employment claim!). In all cases, the information below assumes therefore that the employee that is the subject of the claim for unfair dismissal has at least 2 years’ continuous employment that is not disputed or subject to any qualifications.

If, for any reason, your case requires work to be done that falls outside of this scope, you will incur additional charges to those outlined below. We will give you an estimate of those further charges when we become aware of the circumstances and/or the additional work required.

The following costs estimates are therefore only estimates. They are NOT fixed fees and the actual costs of bringing or defending a claim may exceed or fall below the figures quoted based on the circumstances of each case (including the value and complexity of a claim and the evidence underlying the claim), which are indicative only.

The following fee estimates are based on Clive Hitchen’s hourly charging rate of £300 plus VAT. If someone else works on your file instead of Clive, you will be charged at that person’s usual hourly charging rate which will be the same or lower than Clive’s hourly charging rate. The below estimates also exclude disbursements (payments we make to other people on your behalf) which will be added to these fees and those disbursements may or may not be subject to VAT – we will advise you of such additional costs as the matter progresses before they are incurred.

  • A simple case – estimated costs of between £5,000 plus VAT and £15,000 plus VAT;
  • A medium complexity case – estimated costs of between £10,000 plus VAT and £20,000 plus VAT; and
  • A complex case – estimated costs of between £20,000 plus VAT and £40,000 plus VAT.

All of the above estimates exclude disbursements (see below for details) which are payable in addition to these fees.

Factors that could make a case more complex:

  • Making or defending applications to amend a claim or to provide further information about an existing claim;
  • Defending claims brought by a former employee who does not have legal representation;
  • Making or defending a costs application;
  • Preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (assuming of course that this is not agreed by the parties);
  • The number of witnesses and documents involved;
  • Whether a claim for unfair dismissal is an “automatic” unfair dismissal claim e.g. an employee is dismissed after “whistleblowing” in respect of the employer (this work would not be included in the above fee estimate and would be subject to a bespoke fee estimate);
  • Allegations of discrimination linked to the dismissal (as stated above, the work to claim discrimination will not be included in the above fee estimate – that is specifically excluded and a further estimate will be given for this work).

Additional fees will be payable if you required a member of our team to attend a Tribunal hearing with you (in addition to the barrister that will represent you) of £2,600 plus VAT per day. Generally, we estimate that a final hearing at the Tribunal will last between 1 and 3 days depending on the complexity of the case.

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These are payments that we make to other parties on your behalf in the course of our instructions on a matter, such as a fee payable to the Employment Tribunal when an employee brings a claim (currently zero, but likely to be under review again) or paying a barrister to attend the Tribunal on your behalf and present your case to the Tribunal (Counsel’s fees).

We will usually recommend Counsel to clients based on our experience of using that particular barrister or chambers for similar work. If, however, you instruct us to use a barrister that you have chosen, we will do so but we cannot estimate that barrister’s fees for you at this stage, if he or she is someone that we have not used before.

Counsel’s fees are quoted based on “Instructions to Counsel” that we will prepare on your behalf including all the documents and relevant information that Counsel requires to present your case before an Employment Tribunal. As is the case with our fees, Counsel’s fees are therefore usually estimated on a case by case basis based on those Instructions. The below information is, therefore, guidance only:

For a 1 day hearing (including preparation):

  • For a simple case (using a very junior barrister) – approximately £1,250 plus VAT
  • For a more complicated case (using a more senior barrister) – approximately £4,000 plus VAT

For a 2 or 3 day hearing (including preparation):

  • For a simple case (using a very junior barrister) – approximately £2,500 plus VAT for preparation for the whole case and attending the first day of the hearing PLUS £850 plus VAT per day for attending each of the second and third days of the hearing.
  • For example, if we instruct Junior Counsel on your behalf for a 2 day hearing, the total fee payable to Counsel is likely to be approximately £3,350 plus VAT or for a 3 day hearing £4,200 plus VAT.
  • For a more complicated case (using a more senior barrister but not a QC) – approximately £5,000 plus VAT for preparation for the whole case and attending the first day of the hearing PLUS £1,750 plus VAT for attending each of the second and third days.
  • For example, if we instruct Senior Counsel on your behalf for a 2 day hearing, the total fee payable to Counsel is likely to be approximately £6,750 plus VAT or for a 3 day hearing £8,500 plus VAT.

Key stages of work included in these estimates:

The fees set out above are intended to cover all of the work required in order to complete the following key stages of a claim:

  • Taking your initial instructions, reviewing any relevant paperwork and advising you on the merits of your case and likely compensation (this will be revisited throughout the case and may be subject to change as more evidence is uncovered);
  • Entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  • Preparing a claim or response to a claim on your behalf based on your instructions;
  • Reviewing and advising on claim or response received from the other party;
  • Exploring and attempting to negotiate a settlement on your behalf throughout the process;
  • Preparing (if you are the employee claimant) or considering (if you are the employer respondent) a Schedule of Loss;
  • Exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents for use at the Tribunal hearing;
  • Taking witness statements, drafting and/or amending statements and agreeing the contents of witness statements with witnesses;
  • Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements;
  • Preparing (if you are the claimant) or reviewing (if you are the respondent) bundles of documents for hearing;
  • Agreeing a list of issues, chronology and/or cast list with the other party; and
  • Instructing Counsel to attend the final Tribunal hearing.

As set out above, we are happy to attend the Tribunal hearing with you and Counsel should you wish us to do so and in those circumstances the additional fees referred to above will apply.

Assumptions and exclusions:

  • Reference above to “settlement” and “negotiations” does NOT include formal means of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. If you wish to engage in formal mediation, there will be additional fees and disbursements to pay such as our time preparing a Position Statement and Mediation Bundle of documents on your behalf, our time attending the mediation (if applicable), a mediator’s fee (which may or may not include a charge for use of premises if not held at either this firm’s offices or the offices of another firm of solicitors instructed by the other party) and, possibly, Counsel’s fees for attending mediation with you;
  • If the other party is unrepresented, or instruct solicitors who do not deal with matters reasonably promptly and we are instructed by you to chase them, you will incur additional fees in respect of our time chasing the other side for updates and/or documents;
  • Likewise, if there are delays at the hands of the Tribunal and we are instructed by you to take a proactive approach and chase the Tribunal for responses to correspondence etc, you will incur additional fees of us doing so; and
  • All of the above information assumes that you will take our advice on matters relating to your claim. If you choose not to take our advice, then the costs are likely to be more than we have estimated above.

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How long will my case take?

The time it will take from your initial instructions to a final resolution of your employment dispute will depend largely on the stage at which your case is resolved, and how. For example, if your case is resolved during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take between 1 and 3 months from the employment termination date. If, on the other hand, your case cannot be resolved without going to a final Tribunal hearing, your case is likely to take much longer. Exactly how long will depend on how busy the Tribunal hearing your case is at the time as this dictates listing of hearing dates. Simple matters with hearings lasting no more than 1 day tend to be listed more quickly than complicated cases which require longer hearing dates. Generally, you can expect your case to take at least 9 months to be resolved at a Tribunal hearing by a Judge. This is just an estimate and we will be able to give you a more accurate timescale once we have more information about the complexity of your case and as the matter progresses.

Who will I be working with?

If you instruct Colemans in relation to bringing or defending a claim in the Employment Tribunal for either unfair or wrongful dismissal, it is most likely that you will be instructing Clive Hitchen, Denise Bullock or Kate Williams.

Clive has over 30 years of experience in litigation and employment law matters during which time he has acted for numerous employers and employees in relation to unfair and/or wrongful dismissal claims.

To find out more about Clive click here.

Denise has over a decade of experience dealing with employment law disputes for clients including unfair and/or wrongful dismissal claims.

To find out more about Denise click here.

The partner with ultimate responsibility for this area of work is Kate Williams, who is the Head of Litigation and Managing Partner of the firm. To find out more about Kate click here.

Claims for unfair and/or wrongful dismissal are just two of the areas of employment law on which we can assist you. The employment team at Colemans also advise on a number of other areas including non-contentious employment work and dealing with Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements).

To see the full range of employment law services that we offer please click here or call us on 01628 631051 or email employment@colemans.co.uk.

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