Overview


As part of our practice on advising on employment law, our team has a great deal of experience in helping clients bring and defend claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal including claims involving high levels of complexity and those of high financial value.

The vast majority of our cases settle and the information set out below is particularly relevant to the small minority that do not. However cases may settle at any time, even where litigation has been ongoing for some time and preparation is well advanced.

Our team


Our team comprises four partners, one special counsel and twelve other lawyers who are assisted by a small number of trainee solicitors and paralegals.

All matters will be managed by one of the partners or special counsel who will work with other members of our team with the appropriate level of experience. Click on an individual’s name to view their profile.

PARTNERS AND SPECIAL COUNSEL

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS

The team is also assisted by trainee solicitors who will spend six months working with the team. Their overall experience of legal practice will depend on what stage of their two-year training period they have reached and any prior experience gained before they started their training contract. The experience of paralegals will be similar to trainees and also depend on any prior experience gained before joining the firm.

Our services


The fees set out above cover all of the work in relation to the following key stages of a claim:

  1. taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on the merits of your claim or defence and the likely compensation that a tribunal would award (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change);
  2. entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  3. preparing claim or response;
  4. reviewing and advising on the claim or response from the other party;
  5. exploring settlement and if possible negotiating settlement throughout the process;
  6. preparing or considering a schedule of loss;
  7. preparing for (and attending) any preliminary hearings;
  8. exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents;
  9. taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses;
  10. preparing a bundle of documents (normally this falls to the employer rather the employee);
  11. reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements;
  12. agreeing a list of the issues in the case that need to be decided, a chronology of events and/or a list of the people involved in the dispute.
    preparation for and attendance at a final hearing, including instructions a barrister.

The stages set out above are an indication and if some of stages above are not required, the fee will be reduced. You may wish to handle the claim yourself and only have our advice in relation to some of the stages. This can also be arranged according to your individual needs.

Our charges and timescales


Our legal fees are calculated by reference, amongst other matters, to the total time spent on a case and the hourly rates of the members of the team who deal with it. These are as follows:

  • Partners – between £450 and £715 per hour
  • Special Counsel – between £415 and £530 per hour
  • Professional Support Lawyer – between £430 and £550 per hour
  • Consultants – between £330 and £575 per hour
  • Associates – between £255 and £550 per hour
  • Trainee Solicitors – between £205 and £250 per hour
  • Paralegals – between £120 and £150 per hour

Please note that these rates do not include VAT.

The amount of work involved in each case will depend on its specific circumstances so we are not able to provide a precise estimate of the overall costs of bringing or defending a claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal on this page. We will provide an estimate of the likely overall costs to all clients once we have sufficient further information about the specific circumstances of their case. But as a general guide, the overall costs of bringing or defending a claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal (including the fees of barristers and others such as experts) are as follows:

SIMPLE CASE: £40,000 TO £60,000 (EXCLUDING VAT)

This assumes (by way of example):

  • no preliminary hearings needed;
  • both parties represented;
  • straightforward issues, such as unfair dismissal (but not whistleblowing or discrimination) that can be dealt with by more junior solicitors and barristers;
  • a one or two day full merits hearing with no more than four witnesses in total;
  • documentation not more than 300 pages;
  • no separate hearing needed for issues such as remedy or costs.

MEDIUM COMPLEXITY CASE: £60,000 TO £100,000 (EXCLUDING VAT)

This assumes:

  • a claim of sufficiently high potential value;
  • a preliminary hearing needed, eg for case management;
  • more complex issues involving eg discrimination or whistleblowing (or the opponent is unrepresented);
  • more experienced lawyers needed;
  • a hearing lasting between three and five days with five or more witnesses (or the opponent is unrepresented);
  • documents between 300 and 1000 pages (or the opponent is unrepresented);
  • potential for additional hearings on matters such as remedy or costs.

HIGH COMPLEXITY CASE: UPWARDS OF £100,000 (EXCLUDING VAT)

This assumes:

  • a claim of sufficiently high potential value financially or in terms of reputation to at least one of the parties;
  • at least one preliminary hearing needed;
  • complex overlapping issues potentially arising over a prolonged period;
  • potentially lack of co-operation by the opponent leading to lack of compliance with the case management timetable set by the tribunal or disputes over matters such as discovery of documents;
  • a hearing lasting more than five days;
  • large volumes of documentation exceeding 1,000 pages;
  • potential for additional hearings on matters such as remedy or costs.

OVERALL COSTS

Please note that the overall costs of each type of case may end up being higher or lower than the range of figures given above. The overall costs involved will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • the number of documents involved;
  • the time needed to identify the relevant documents;
  • the number of witnesses to be called;
  • the length of the hearing (a typical unfair dismissal case is likely to last one or two days, but more complex cases involving multiple allegations can take a number of days or even weeks); and
  • the seniority of the barrister required to present the case effectively, which in turn depends on the complexity of the case.

OTHER FACTORS

Other factors that could make a case more complex include by way of example:

  • the necessity to make or defend applications to amend a claim or response or to provide further information about an existing claim;
  • the fact that it involves allegations about discrimination or whistleblowing;
  • the fact that the case requires more than one hearing, such as case management hearings and/or preliminary hearings about whether the tribunal has the power to hear the claim or whether the claimant has the right status to bring a claim;
  • the need to defend a claim brought by a litigant in person;
  • the need to make or defend a costs application;
  • the need to bring proceedings in the civil courts as well as in the employment tribunal, which is necessary in some high value contract disputes.

In additional to our legal fees, other costs related to your matter which are payable to third parties may also be incurred, such as court fees. We handle the payment of these expenses on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. At present there are no fees for bringing employment tribunal claims but government policy on this may change.

EXPERT WITNESS

In some cases it may be necessary to use the services of an expert witness, for example to provide medical evidence. The costs of instructing the expert are an example of an expense that you would have to meet in addition to our legal fees. An expert’s costs will vary according to the complexity of the report they are asked to prepare and how involved they become in the case:

  • a short letter or report that is not challenged by the other side in the dispute might cost as little as £300;
  • a more complex report that has taken time to prepare might cost in the region of £2,000 – £5,000, particularly if there is more than one expert in the case and there is discussion between them with a view to reducing areas of disagreement;
  • a more complex report that is not agreed by the other side could cost upwards of £5,000, as the expert is likely to have to give evidence about it during the tribunal proceedings. This figure could be higher, if the expert has very specific expertise, or is required to be involved in multiple days of the hearing.

BARRISTERSFEES

Barristers’ fees will be treated in the same way. We will negotiate the fees of the barrister for you once it has been decided that a barrister needs to be involved in the case. Barristers’ fees depend on the complexity of the task given to them and their experience and expertise. Barristers will charge VAT in addition to the quoted fee. By way of example:

  • an appearance by a junior barrister at a short preliminary hearing (one to two hours) might cost in the region of £500;
  • at the other end of the spectrum a senior barrister (a ‘QC’ or ‘silk’) might charge a fee for preparation of a highly complex or valuable case of £40,000 with an additional daily fee of £5,000.

The factors that will influence the cost of a barrister include factors such as:

  • the barrister’s seniority, expertise and reputation;
  • their hourly rate;
  • whether or not the opponent is represented;
  • where in the country the hearing is taking place;
  • the length of the hearing and whether it is a preliminary or full merits hearing;
  • the complexity of the issues;
  • the value of the claim or its reputational implications;
  • the volume of documentation involved;
  • the number of witnesses;
  • the financial resources of the client.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR A CASE TO REACH A HEARING?

The length of time required to resolve an employment claim depends on many factors and we will of course keep you informed throughout the preparation of a case about how long the matter is likely to take to reach a conclusion.

The most important factor is whether the case is settled and at what stage that occurs. Settlement discussions can take place at any time, even at the start of or during the final hearing of a case. Many cases settle just before the expiry of the time limit for presenting a claim to the tribunal, so that the parties avoid the cost of preparing the documents needed for presenting and defending a case.

In employment tribunal claims the initial settlement window, before the time limit for issuing proceedings expires, is usually three months from the date of the dismissal or other act that forms the basis of the claim, plus approximately a month for ACAS early conciliation.

If a case does not settle within this initial period and a claim is issued, the time it will take for the case to come to a full hearing will depend on many of the same factors that affect the overall costs of taking a case to a hearing. As a broad rule of thumb the more complex the case the long it will take to hear and the longer it will be necessary to wait for a hearing date.

So, by way of example a case that only needs one day to be heard will normally take place between six to nine months after the claim is issued. This is likely to rise to 12 months or more for multi day cases.

In more complex cases there is usually a case management hearing at relatively early stage. At this preliminary hearing an agreement is reached with the assistance of a judge about how long the final hearing will need to be. A procedural timetable to prepare for the final hearing will be also fixed.

The time it takes for a case to reach a final hearing will also vary from region to region in the UK. As a general rule, cases that need to be heard in London may take longer to reach a final hearing than cases which can be heard outside London.

Speak to us

For more information, please contact our client services team who will be happy to assist.

View all office phone numbers