Pricing transparency

SRA transparency rules require us to provide information about the cost of claims for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal.  A wrongful dismissal is a dismissal in breach of contract. It is most commonly claimed in conjunction with unfair dismissal where the dismissal purported to be for gross misconduct and no notice was given.  Claims that the dismissal was unfair can be ordinary unfair (which is more common), or automatically unfair.  The law designates certain reasons for dismissal as automatically unfair regardless of the process followed.  Examples of unfair reasons include pregnancy or trade union activity.  The term ‘ordinary’ does not indicate the complexity of the claim, it simply describes the type of claim.  We only act for businesses, which are the respondents defending a claim.  We are obliged to collect VAT on our fees, which in the UK in 2023 is 20%.

The average amount our clients spend on defending ordinary unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal claims is approximately £5,650 plus VAT (£6,780 including VAT).  This amount reflects the fact that many claims do not go to a full hearing; some claims are withdrawn, or the claimant does not pursue the case once we start actively defending it, and some claims are settled for commercial or other reasons.  For those that go to a full hearing, the average cost is approximately £13,188 plus VAT (£15,825.60 including VAT) including advocacy (representation) at the hearing and a successful defence.  This cost is for claims that are relatively simple unfair dismissal cases and more complex claims could cost more.  Typically we would estimate the cost of defending an unfair dismissal claim to be between £12,100 (£14,520 including VAT) and £17,200 plus VAT (£20,640 including VAT).  Some unfair dismissal claims, including those for constructive dismissal, can be more complex (see below) and will cost more.  We charge for tribunal work according to the time spent, in accordance with our terms, at a rate we agree with our client that currently will not exceed £350 plus VAT (£420 including VAT) per hour.  Clients who have an annual support arrangement with us for day-to-day advice enjoy a discounted hourly rate.

All tribunal claims are different.  Often, different types of claim are brought at the same time, such as when a former employee brings an unfair dismissal, breach of contract, and discrimination claim in a single case. Cases involving a variety of different claims are generally more complex, more time consuming and more expensive to defend than single claims.  Discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing claims will usually cost more to defend, as they tend to be legally and factually more complex cases with longer hearings (usually at least three days).  Factors that increase the costs of defending a tribunal claim include:

  • The length of hearing.
  • The number of preliminary hearings required.
  • The number of parties in the claim and if there are other respondents.
  • The volume of evidence – mainly affected by the number of witnesses who will need to give evidence, and number of relevant documents.
  • How responsive the client is in providing information and documentation when requested.
  • Whether it is necessary to make or defend applications during the course of the case (for example to amend claims, to obtain further information about an existing claim, to have part of a claim struck out, or to obtain a deposit order).
  • A litigant bringing the claim in person (those not professionally represented).
  • The need to make or defend a costs application.
  • Any complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties), or whether a claim or part of it has been brought in time.

The work we undertake in defending a claim on your behalf, depending on its nature and progress, can include all or some of these steps:

  • to take your initial instructions, review the papers and advise you on merits and likely compensation (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and is subject to change)
  • to enter pre-claim conciliation to explore whether a settlement can be reached
  • to prepare the response
  • to review and advise on the claim or a response from another party
  • to explore and negotiate settlement throughout the process
  • to consider a schedule of loss and prepare a counter-schedule
  • to prepare for (and attend) any preliminary hearings
  • to exchange documents with the other party and agree a bundle of documents
  • to take witness statements, draft statements and agree their content with witnesses
  • to prepare a bundle of documents
  • to review and advise on the other party’s witness statements
  • to agree a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list
  • to prepare for and attend the final hearing. Most of our consultants are experience advocates and will often represent you themselves.  Occasionally we will suggest, or you may decide, to instruct Counsel, in which case we will deal with the instructions and obtain fee estimates for you.

The stages set out above are an indication of the work often required, and if some of the stages are not necessary, the total cost will be lower (as can be seen in the overall average).  Sometimes clients wish to handle the claim themselves and only use our advice for some of the stages, which we are able to do.

The time taken from your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved and how quickly the tribunal lists the final hearing.  If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take up to six weeks.  If the claim proceeds to a final hearing, it could take between six months and a year to complete.  This is just an estimate and we will of course be able to give you a more accurate timescale once we have more information and we can update that as the matter progresses.

This information is provided only as an indication of the costs of ordinary unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal claims.  We would provide a fee estimate at the outset of a matter and we are happy to discuss the likely costs of defending your particular claim.  Contact us on 0161 703 5611 for more information.

Employment Tribunals are dealt with by one of our Employment Litigation Team.  Our Employment Litigation Team is made up of either qualified solicitors with between 10 and 24 years post-qualifying experience in employment law including tribunal litigation, or our litigation and employment law consultants all of whom have over 10 years of experience in employment law and handling employment tribunal litigation.