Information about fees

We are required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to publish certain information in relation to bringing and defending unfair and wrongful dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunals. This information is provided here.   

What is the difference between ‘wrongful’ and ‘unfair’ dismissal?

‘Wrongful dismissal’ is where an employer dismisses an employee in breach of contract, for example by not giving the correct period of notice. In the Employment Tribunal, the maximum compensation for wrongful dismissal is £25,000.

‘Unfair dismissal’ is where an employer dismisses an employee for a reason which is not a legally fair reason, or where the employer fails to follow a fair procedure first. The maximum compensation for unfair dismissal is one year’s pay or £83,682, whichever is lower.

Fees 

Our Employment Tribunal work primarily involves bringing and defending high value and complex claims such as, for example, discrimination and whistleblowing claims.  We can and do advise individuals and employers who are bringing or defending straightforward claims of unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal in the Employment Tribunal, but in light of the caps on compensation we encourage potential clients to seek a number of fee estimates from a range of firms before deciding whom to instruct. That should include firms offering conditional fee arrangements (which we do not, as a general rule).  We also encourage potential clients to check before contacting us whether they have legal expenses insurances (for example, under their household insurance policy).

We have substantial experience of advising individuals and take great care to assist in keeping legal fees to a minimum.

Hourly Rates

We always consider whether we are able to offer a fixed or capped fee for particular pieces of work as we know that clients appreciate costs certainty where this can be given.  For discrete pieces of work (such as drafting or reviewing a contract of employment, advising on a settlement agreement, drafting an Employee Handbook or a particular policy or procedure), we are able to offer fixed fees. However, for unfair and wrongful dismissal claims (and litigation more generally), this is more difficult as we do not know how your opponent will run their case and how long it will take to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion, nor can we foresee all the issues which may arise. This is why our fees for this sort of work are generally based on the time we spend on your case, charged at our usual hourly rates. 

Our current hourly rates (which are revised on 1 January each year) are:

Level of Experience

Hourly Rate (before VAT)

Partner

£300 

Senior Consultant

£250

In addition to our fees, your bill will include:

  • VAT, which is currently an additional 20% on top of the hourly rate; and
  • disbursements.  For an explanation of what these are please click here.

For an Employment Tribunal claim, we are likely to bring in consultants to help with specific pieces of work, as that is more cost-effective for you.  For example, we may instruct a barrister to draft your claim or defence, to prepare the first draft of your witness statement, and to review documents for disclosure to your opponent.  The seniority of the barrister we instruct will depend on the complexity of the task. For example, we may instruct a more experienced barrister to draft your claim or defence but a junior barrister to review documents for disclosure to your opponent.  

The hourly rates of the consultants we engage to assist with the preparation of your case will depend on their level of experience. Below is a rough indication of the sort of rates you are likely to pay. Queen’s Counsel (often referred to as a ‘QC’ or a ‘silk’) are the most senior barristers.  A QC would only normally be instructed to represent a party in Employment Tribunal proceedings in the most complex/ high value claims.

Level of Experience

Hourly Rate (before VAT)

Queen’s Counsel

£500 

Senior Barrister

£350

Junior Barrister

£200

Consultant

£250

Junior Consultant

£225

Paralegal

£150

VAT will also be added to the fees for work done by most barristers and consultants.

Estimating fees

As explained above, it is always difficult to predict how much it will cost to conclude a case for you.  However, below are some very broadbrush estimates of fees where you want us to deal with all correspondence with the Tribunal and the opposing party, and to prepare your case for you. 

Likely fees for running a simple case for you:

£15,000-£25,000 (plus VAT and disbursements). 

Likely fees for running a case of medium complexity for you:

£25,000 - £50,000 (plus VAT and disbursements).

Likely fees for running a highly complex case for you:

£50,000-£100,000 (plus VAT and disbursements).

A simple case is one that involves only unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims without any complicating factors such as whistleblowing or discrimination.

A medium complexity case is one where there are complicating factors, but the legal issues and evidence are still relatively straight-forward (for example, the employee claims that he has been dismissed because of his sexual orientation).

A high complexity case is one where the dismissal is one of a number of claims that involve complicated issues of evidence and law (for example, a case in which the employee claims to have been dismissed because of something arising from a disability and because of the employer’s failures to make reasonable adjustments for him over a long period).

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are costs related to the preparation of your case that are payable to third parties, such as court fees, barristers’ fees (sometimes called ‘counsel’s fees’), expert witness fees, and bulk photocopying.  We will not incur any disbursements on your behalf without first providing you with a fee estimate and obtaining your prior approval.

The fees charged by a barrister depend on their seniority and the complexity of the case. 

For a simple unfair dismissal/wrongful dismissal case, you will probably only need a barrister to act as your advocate in hearings before the Employment Tribunal.  For more complex cases it may be sensible (and more cost-effective) to have the barrister give you some stand-alone advice during the preparation stages as well – for example, on the likelihood of your claim or defence succeeding.

For advocacy, barristers charge:

  • a ‘brief fee’ that covers preparation for the hearing and the first day of the hearing itself; plus
  • a “refresher” which is a fee for each day of the hearing after the first.

For advice, barristers generally charge an hourly rate, or sometimes a fixed fee based on an hourly rate. 

Employment law is a highly technical and fast-moving area of law, so we recommend using specialist employment barristers. Typical fees for employment barristers are as follows:

  • A senior barrister (a QC) will typically charge around £500 plus VAT per hour and a refresher fee of £3,000-£5,000 (plus VAT) per day. The brief fee will depend on the complexity and length of the case and will typically range from £10,000-£50,000 (plus VAT).
  • A junior barrister with eight or more years’ experience will typically charge around £250 (plus VAT) per hour and a refresher fee of £1,000-£2,000 (plus VAT) per day. The brief fee usually ranges from £5,000-£25,000 (plus VAT).
  • A junior barrister with fewer than eight years’ experience will typically charge around £175 (plus VAT) per hour and a refresher of £700-£1,250.

Factors to consider

The costs of bringing or defending an unfair or wrongful dismissal claim will vary depending on the details of the claim and the level of complexity. Factors that could make a case more complex and therefore costly include:

  • If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim
  • Defending claims that are brought by someone who does not have a lawyer representing them
  • Making or defending a costs application
  • Complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties)
  • A high number of witnesses and documents
  • If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim (for example if the employee is dismissed after blowing the whistle on wrongdoing in the workplace)
  • Allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal

Key Stages

Bringing or defending a claim involves a number of different stages. The fee estimates set out above include the following stages:

  • Taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely compensation (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change)
  • Engaging in mandatory pre-claim conciliation to explore whether a settlement can be reached
  • Preparing the claim (fi you are the claimant) or response (if you are the respondent or defendant to the claim)
  • Reviewing and advising on the claim or response from the other party 
  • Exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process
  • Preparing or considering a schedule of loss (the document in which the claimant sets out the compensation they are claiming)
  • Preparing for and attending any Preliminary Hearing which may be listed by the Employment Tribunal to resolve any initial issues in relation to the claim
  • Reviewing your documents and deciding which are relevant to the case
  • Indexing documents and exchanging documents with the other party 
  • Reviewing the documents provided by the other party
  • Agreeing and preparing the bundle (files) of documents to be used at the final hearing
  • Preparing witness statements and agreeing their content with witnesses
  • Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements 
  • Agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list
  • Preparation and attendance at the final hearing, including instructions to the barrister who will represent you at that hearing

The stages set out above are only an indication. If some of the stages above are not required, the fees would be lower than the fees estimated above.  Conversely if, for example, more than one Preliminary Hearing is required (which could be the case in a very complex case), fees would be higher than those estimated above.  

Timescales

The time from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of the claim will depend largely on the stage at which your case is resolved, either by settlement or by the Tribunal determining the claim.  If a settlement is reached during early (pre-claim) conciliation, your case is likely to take anywhere between two weeks and two to three months. If your claim proceeds to a final hearing, and it is a simple unfair/wrongful dismissal claim, your case is likely to take around six months, depending on how busy your local Employment Tribunal is. More complex claims with long hearings are likely to take around a year but can take longer than this to conclude.

These are just estimates and we can provide a more accurate timescale once we have more information and as the claim progresses.