The SRA obliges us to display on our website details about costs of bringing or defending claims in the Employment Tribunal, either a claim for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal (breach of contract).
Unfortunately, Employment Tribunal claims are not a ‘one size fits all’ as the amount of time and cost will depend on so many different factors.
However, what we set out below is based on our combined 90 years’ employment law experience in our team and based on the hundreds of employment tribunal claims we have brought or defended on behalf of clients. Given the backlog in the tribunal process it is also impossible at the current time to give timescales for when each aspect of the process will take place as this will depend on complexity, the number of days of hearing and which tribunal.
Our pricing for bringing and defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal is set out in more detail below but the more witnesses, documents and days in tribunal then the higher the price. We estimate the following:
- Simple case: £17,777 - £44,444 (plus VAT @ 20%)
- Medium complexity case: £44,444 - £63,492 (plus VAT @ 20%)
- High complexity case: £63,492 - £253,968 (plus VAT @ 20%)
Factors that could make a case more complex:
- 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 litigants in person
- Making or defending a costs application
- Complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties)
- The number of witnesses and documents
- If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if you are dismissed after blowing the whistle on your employer
- Allegations of discrimination or whistle blowing which are linked to the dismissal
We have assembled a 'brigade' of four highly experienced solicitors and one consultant barrister who will use their combined experience of over 90 years in employment to guide you advise you. We also recognise that some of the tasks needed in employment tribunal work do not justify having a highly experienced, qualified practitioner undertaking them and therefore we also have a paralegal to assist us with these tasks. Our team are:
Beverley Sunderland - Managing Director
Beverley qualified in 1988 and has worked in private practice including significant experience in the City of London, as well working in-house and away from the law as the commercial director of a Plc. Because of this she brings commercial insight to every matter that she advises on.
Top ranked in Chambers' Guide and Elite status in Legal 500, Beverley draws on her experience from thirty years in the law, as well as her time as a Commercial Director for a PLC and also as in-house lawyer. She describes herself as a problem solver, helping businesses to find solutions to difficult employment problems which often do not involve expensive and stressful litigation.
However, if litigation is needed, she is a very experienced advocate in both the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Beverley has also taken cases as far as the Court of Appeal when required.
Barry Ross - Director/Partner
Barry qualified in 2008 and has been with the firm since 2011. He arrived with a wealth of experience in employment law, especially having worked in-house for major legal expenses insurance provider, DAS. There, he provided employment law advice across the whole spectrum of employment law issues to commercial and individual clients.
He puts his wide range of experience to good use providing commercial advice, day to day, on all employment issues including discrimination, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, TUPE, whistleblowing and redundancy. He also advises on drafting contracts, policies and procedures.
Barry is an experienced advocate in the Employment Tribunal and recommended in Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession.
Kevin Charles - Consulting Barrister
Kevin was called to the Bar in 1996. Having completed his pupillage and qualified as a barrister, Kevin spent several years in industry working as in-house counsel, where he advised predominately corporate clients across the full range of employment law and industrial relations and represented clients in employment tribunals across the country.
Kevin has also gained several years experience in private practice working for a firm of City solicitors, where he advised and represented both individual and corporate clients. Latterly, Kevin has worked for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, where as well as providing employment legal advice, he has been involved in lobbying on the TUPE regulations, carrying out staff/HR training, producing best practice guides and policy documents. A Director of Crossland from 2009 to 31 March 2017, Kevin is now a consulting barrister to the firm, acting as advocate in most of the tribunal cases. Kevin is recommended in Legal 500 and Chambers.
Maria Hoeritzauer - Partner
Qualified since 2007 Maria has been working in private practice in top tier law firms in the Thames Valley region and London. She has acted for a wide range of clients, including senior executives, start-up entities and local businesses to multinationals and publicly listed companies. She has written a number of articles used by online personnel publications, including case studies on social media usage by employees.
Maria advises on a wide range of HR and employment-related matters including executive service agreements, disciplinary and grievance issues, board level disputes, performance management, discrimination, restrictive covenants, TUPE and restructuring exercises. She also advises on contentious matters such as employment tribunal claims, discrimination, bonus and contract disputes, and unfair dismissal as well as outsourcing and TUPE transfers. In all matters, Maria brings her commercial background and sector knowledge to bear when advising a client and so her advice is always pragmatic, strategic and reflective of her client's particular industry and culture.
Owen Dear - Partner
Owen trained and qualified in 2008 with an Oxfordshire based firm undertaking employment work and a full range of contentious litigation. Owen has since worked in both Cardiff and the City of London, before returning to Oxfordshire when he joined the firm in 2013.
Owen advises on all aspects of employment law; from day-to-day HR issues including disciplinary and grievance matters, to major commercial transactions involving transfers, restructures and redundancies. He particularly enjoys working with clients, which include a wide range of SMEs, national corporate and charitable organisations, on major projects including those related to gender pay gap reporting, equal pay, national minimum wage and data protection, helping them to overcome complex and sensitive challenges so that they can get on with what they do best.
Owen also represents both employers and employees before the Employment Tribunal and County Courts, and in negotiations; applying his skills in dispute resolution.
James Wallwork (Assistant Solicitor)
James qualified in June 2023 having achieved a distinction in his Legal Practice Course. He has had a broad range of employment law experience during his training contract in Harrow, acting for both employers and employees. James’s passions are Formula I racing and cycling, particularly road racing.
Jade Dunsden - Trainee Solicitor
She joined the team in 2020 whilst completing her degree and has since been awarded a first class degree in law and business from Brighton University. Jade prides herself on her friendly approach. She uses her proactive attitude, organisation skills and efficiency to contribute to the smooth running of the office.
Jade gained experience in the role of a legal assistant as part of a placement year which cemented her passion and interest in the legal profession. Other experience includes working as a legal receptionist and completing work experience in the public law sector.
How you will be charged
We have four qualified solicitors and one qualified barrister. We also have one paralegal who will be used for work such a compiling bundles and putting together files, but will never be asked to provide legal advice to you. You will never be charged for the supervision of one of our qualified solicitors or barristers or the paralegal.
We charge on a time basis and our current hourly charge out rates (which are reviewed annually) are as follows:
Beverley Sunderland (Solicitor/Director)
£400 plus VAT @ 20%
Kevin Charles (Consulting Barrister)
£400 plus VAT @ 20%
Barry Ross (Solicitor/Director)
£325 plus VAT @ 20%
Maria Hoeritzauer (Partner)
£325 plus VAT @ 20%
Owen Dear (Partner)
£325 plus VAT @ 20%
James Wallwork (Assistant Solicitor)
£220 plus VAT @ 20%
Jade Dunsden (Trainee Solicitor)
£180 plus VAT @ 20%
As we charge on a time basis then the more frequently you call or email us then the higher the charges. Also, the estimates below are based on full and timely co-operation with us, both from you as our client and also our opponent.
Our time is in units of 6 minutes which means that if you are on the telephone for 2 minutes you will be charged 1 unit, 10 minutes you will be charged 2 units. We also charge 1 unit for dictating an attendance note of any call we have with you.
We do not charge for time spent travelling but if we work whilst travelling then this is chargeable.
Every case is different in terms of the number of documents, number of witnesses, interaction with the other side and interim hearings which are listed by the Employment Tribunal. If the legal arguments are more complex this will increase the time for research and submissions.
A wrongful dismissal is a breach of contract claim and will either be because an employee has not been paid notice where they say it should have been, or where they say some other contractual process has not been followed leading up to their dismissal. Both will require the same process in the Tribunal, as the Tribunal will have to listen to evidence to decide if the employee did in fact commit a fundamental breach of contract entitling the employer to dismiss without notice, or hear evidence as to the actual processes followed.
Therefore, the following estimates for time are the same for both unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunal only. Wrongful dismissal claims can also be brought in the County of High Court and different pricing will apply.
No fees are currently payable to bring an Employment Tribunal claim, although a Claimant can be asked to pay a deposit and, in exceptional cases, either party can be ordered to pay the costs of the other.
Before a claim can be lodged, it is necessary to go through early conciliation with ACAS. This can be done by the parties themselves.
Based on our 80 years plus experience the estimated time spent at each stage for bringing/defending a claim are set out below, the total cost ranges are based on a figure of £400 plus VAT per hour and will obviously need to be adjusted depending on which fee earner is dealing with your case:
Completing the Claim / Defence (ET1 and ET3)
This will require taking detailed instructions, reviewing the documents and condensing the information provided into succinct legal arguments.
The estimate for this is between 5-10 hours’ work, depending on the complexity. A straightforward unfair dismissal claim where the employer has not gone through a proper process will be at the lower end of this, but a complex constructive dismissal or discrimination claim will be at the higher end.
Total = £2,000 - £4,000 plus VAT at 20%
Case Management Discussion/Pre-Hearing Review
These are preliminary hearings which can either be administrative to agree what the issues are and set the hearing dates or they can be hearings at which key issues will be decided such as whether or not a Claimant is disabled. They will not be required in every case, generally only complex discrimination/whistleblowing cases. Often the Tribunal will issue standard directions but sometimes there will be the need to actually attend the Tribunal in person, because one party is not represented or because witness evidence is required.
On the basis that a preliminary hearing is required at an initial stage then the approximate time spent will be as follows:
- Preparing a bundle of documents – 4 hours
- Preparing a witness statement – 2-4 hours per statement
- Preparing submissions and legal argument – 2-6 hours depending on complexity
- Miscellaneous correspondence – 2 hours
- Attending the hearing – 1-5 hours depending on complexity and waiting time
Total = £4,400 - £8,400 plus VAT at 20%
If we are not successful in having the matter disposed of at the case management hearing then the next stages are:
- Full disclosure
- Witness statements
- Preparation of the bundle
- Preparation for the hearing
- Attendance at the hearing
This will depend on the number of documents and the co-operation of witnesses in providing them. For instance, if documents are sent in one by one then this can be more expensive as it means revisiting the index which is always chronological. We then have to read the documents to ascertain their relevance, whether they are privileged or whether they affect the prospects of success.
Therefore the amount of time spent will be very dependent on the number and complexity of the documents but disclosure can take between 5-10 hours of time for an average bundle of 250 pages.
Total = £2,000 - £4,000 plus VAT @ 20%
These are the most important part of the case and it is our practice to take witness evidence in person, to ascertain how each witness will be perceived by the Tribunal and to test the evidence given. It will normally take about 2 hours to take the evidence and then between 3-5 hours to prepare each statement and have this checked by the witness. This is per witness and therefore the number of witnesses will dictate the cost.
Total = £4,000 - £5,600 plus VAT at 20% (based on two witness statements)
One party will be ordered to prepare the bundle and although this is normally the employer, it can also be the employee. We normally suggest that preparation of the bundle is our role as your adviser, as a poorly prepared bundle can cause more damage at the hearing and can prolong proceedings.
This will depend on the number of documents but can take between 2-5 hours for an average sized bundle of up to 250 pages.
Total = £800 - £2,000 plus VAT at 20%
This is out of our hands if our opponent is prone to sending long letters or requests for further and better particulars. However, on the basis that it is just ordinary correspondence then between 3-5 hours to deal with you, our opponent and ACAS.
Total = £1,200 - £2,000 plus VAT at 20%
Preparation of cross examination and legal argument:
3-5 hours per witness for preparation of cross examination and between 2-10 hours for submissions at the end, depending on legal complexity.
Total = £3,200 - £8,000 plus VAT at 20% (based on two witness statements)
Attendance at hearing:
- One day between 6-7 hours
- Overnight preparation 5 hours
- Second and subsequent days between 6-7 hours and 5 hours a night preparation
Total = £4,400 - £9,600 plus VAT at 20% (based on a one or two-day hearing)
The following can also increase costs:
- Service of a Data Protection Act subject access request and our involvement in this
- Request for further and better particulars
- Service of a discrimination questionnaire (although these have been abolished there is still an ability to ask questions)
- Interim hearings requested by either party to discuss or decide issues
- Preparation of chronologies and cast lists (for complex hearings)
- Excessive correspondence or calls from you or the other side
Excluding the miscellaneous matters above, the average range of a one to two-day wrongful dismissal or unfair dismissal case, including a preliminary hearing is therefore: £22,000 – £43,600 plus VAT at 20%
There are currently no fees for bringing or defending employment tribunal proceedings. Therefore the only disbursements that you will be charged for are:
1. Bulk photocopying at 10p a sheet
2. Travel costs to and from meetings and hearings at the standard fare.
3. Accommodation costs if overnight accommodation is needed.
4. Counsel's fees should you wish to instruct counsel rather than us providing the advocacy. You will still incur fees for us liaising with counsel and attending at the hearing. Counsel's fees are negotiated on a case by case basis depending on the complexity and the experience of the barrister. They will normally comprise an hourly rate for initial advice on the claim, a brief fee that covers preparation for and attendance at the first day of any hearing and then a refresher fee which covers any additional days at the hearing. A senior barrister charges £300 - £500 + VAT (£360 - £600 including VAT) per hour and their brief fee will range from £10,000 - £50,000 + VAT (£12,000 - £60,000 including VAT) and then on top of this will be a refresher fee of £3,000 - £5,000 +VAT (£3,600 - £6,000 including VAT) per additional day. A junior barrister will typically charge £150 - £300 + VAT (£180 - £360 including VAT) per hour and a brief fee from £5,000 - £25,000 + VAT (£6,000 - £30,000 including VAT) with a refresher fee of £1,000 - £2,000 + VAT (£1,200 - £2,400 including VAT) per day.