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Employment Tribunal costs

New 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.

For claims brought and concluded in 2018, the average amount our clients spent on defending ordinary unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal claims was £3,853 plus VAT.  This amount reflects the fact that many did not go to a full hearing; some claims were withdrawn, or the claimant did not pursue the case once we started actively defending it, and some claims were settled for commercial or other reasons.  For those that went to a full hearing, the average cost was £8,480 plus VAT including advocacy (representation) at the hearing and they were successfully defended.  These claims were relatively simple unfair dismissal and more complex claims could cost more.  Typically we would estimate the cost of defending an unfair dismissal claim to be between £8,000 and £12,000 plus VAT.  Some unfair dismissal claims, including constructive dismissal claims, 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 £260 plus 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 at the same time 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 can include all or some of these steps, depending on the claim and its progress:

  • 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 is subject to change)
  • entering pre-claim conciliation to explore whether a settlement can be reached
  • preparing the response
  • reviewing and advising on the claim or a response from another party
  • exploring and negotiating settlement throughout the process
  • considering a schedule of loss and preparing a counter-schedule
  • preparing for (and attending) any preliminary hearings
  • exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents
  • taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses
  • preparing a bundle of documents
  • reviewing and advising on the other party's witness statements
  • agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list
  • preparing for and attending 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.

Our team

Your tribunal case will be handled by one of our employment team:

Mark Clayton qualified as a solicitor with Kuits in 2013 and has years of experience advising HR personnel and senior management on all aspects of employment law, including disciplinary and grievance issues, performance and sickness absence management, Equality Act issues, business reorganisations and redundancy programmes.  On behalf of clients he has undertaken complex disciplinary investigations, grievance hearings and redundancy consultation processes.  He has significant experience helping clients tackle problematic and sensitive personnel issues.  Mark has regularly advised on TUPE in the context of business acquisitions, disposals and retendering across various sectors, including leisure, hospitality, real estate and health and social care.  He also has extensive experience drafting employment documentation, including service agreements, restrictive covenants, contracts of employment, policies and procedures, advising employers and employees on terminations and settlement agreements, and drafting commission and bonus schemes.  He has delivered training seminars and presentations to HR personnel and senior managers on employment law issues and has represented both claimants and respondents at employment tribunals involving difficult legal issues.

Jo Hale is a Director of Watershed and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Member of the Employment Lawyers Association.  Her early career was in the National Health Service, as a Personnel Adviser and Senior Personnel Manager.  Then she became an assistant to the legal team at North Yorkshire County Council.  She did her legal training at Rixons Solicitors, dealing with employment, family and criminal matters.  On qualifying as a solicitor in 1999, she led a good part of the firm’s advocacy work at Magistrates, County and Crown Courts and Employment Tribunals.  She was then made Director of Legal and Human Resources Services for Community Integrated Care.  Jo's work has spanned both employment law and HR.  She regularly supports clients at employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal.  This has included complex whistleblowing, discrimination and TUPE cases.  On behalf of clients she completes the people due diligence aspects for acquisitions, plans and supports integrations, restructurings, redundancies and relocations, deals with transfers of undertakings in various EU jurisdictions, compiles gender pay gap reports, carries out audits of the HR activity, conducts job evaluation exercises and investigates complex grievance and disciplinary matters involving senior managers.  In addition, she supports clients to plan and implement HR policies and procedures.  She is a trusted adviser for many clients.

Ian McGlashan did a degree in law at Southampton Institute of Higher Education and acquired his Diploma in Legal Practice at the Guildford College of Law.  His early career was with a number of law firms in London.  Linklaters Alliance; Sullivan & Cromwell; and Elliot Sloane.  He helped the senior staff to research and prepare cases.  At Peninsula Business Services he was an Employment Law Advocate.  He is a knowledgeable and highly experienced employment lawyer with wide-ranging skills acquired in a number of different settings.  He has over 20 years' experience in employment law. He helps clients to resolve difficult employment problems and to comply effectively with employment law and regulations.  He also advises managers in numerous service and manufacturing sectors on all aspects of the relationships between employers and employees.  He regularly defends claims at the employment tribunal throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as successfully representing clients at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  He is good at presenting complex cases and helping employers to avoid risks.

Ryan Watson studied law at Aberystwyth University and then went on to gain a distinction in his legal practice course (LPC) at Manchester Metropolitan University.  After completing his LPC Ryan worked as a Legal Adviser for MTA Solicitors and then as a Senior Litigation Executive for Peninsula Business Services.  In this role Ryan was responsible for all aspects of defending contentious employment tribunal litigation matters, from drafting the ET3 responses to complying with case management orders and negotiating settlements.  Ryan has over three years' experience in employment law, and has frequently represented respondents at preliminary hearings, both in person and on the telephone, and assisted in the advisory department, providing advice to employers on dealing with grievances, disciplinary procedures and other HR matters.  Ryan has experience of instituting and progressing tribunal matters for claimants, as well as providing advice and assistance to employees experiencing employment issues.  He has worked on a mixed caseload of non-contentious, pre-litigation and litigation matters and has carried out all preparatory work on litigation matters, up to and including representing clients at preliminary hearings.

Victoria Young is a Director of Watershed and has a first-class Honours degree in Forensic Science and Law.  She trained and qualified as a solicitor at Taylor Vinters in Cambridge in 2007 before working in private practice as an employment law solicitor.  Victoria has dealt with all aspects of contentious, non-contentious and advisory work as an employment lawyer.  She has successfully defended tough and complex cases at employment tribunal and has advised employers on lots of topics including unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay, constructive dismissal, collective redundancy, changing terms and conditions, and TUPE.  On behalf of clients, she has carried out extensive investigations into whistleblowing allegations, gross misconduct and complex grievances against senior executives.  Victoria has drawn up contracts and service agreements for senior staff and directors, carried out job evaluations, advised on schemes for pay, carried out negotiation with unions on behalf of clients, negotiated and drafted settlement agreements, and drafted and advised on restrictive covenants.  In her 'preventative' work, she trains HR managers and gives them advice on day-to-day discipline, conduct, absence, performance and redundancy.  Victoria has wide skills and a firm grasp of how to apply the law.  She provides commercial and pragmatic advice and cost-effective solutions to clients.


Employment law and HR update

Our annual update events were held in Manchester and London at the start of June and once again were a great success.  Thank you to all those who attended.

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

Michael Porter

Contact Watershed

Telephone: +44 161 703 5611


Ryecroft, Aviary Road, Worsley, Manchester M28 2WF

Can we help?

If you want to find out more about our services, events or our employment law and HR expertise contact us  on +44 161 703 5611 and one of our dedicated advisers would be more than happy to help.