Unfair and Wrongful Dismissal Claims – Employer

Unfortunately claims are sometimes brought by employees. These can often be time consuming and costly. This guide sets out some basic information about wrongful and unfair dismissal claims as well as some of the likely costs you will incur in defending a claim.

Our key recommendation is that you contact us before you dismiss an employee. If that is not possible, then speak to us as soon as you believe that a claim may be brought by an employee. This will allow us to work with you to reduce the chances of a claim being brought/ lodged, thereby saving you money in the long run.

Unfair dismissal claims vary in complexity depending on the background facts and the number of documents and/ or emails which need to be reviewed. An unfair dismissal claim relates solely to the termination of employment. Generally, an employee needs to have two years’ service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal although there are some exceptions which we will be happy to explain to you.

Wrongful dismissals are rarely brought on their own as they principally relate to whether an employee’s notice period has been paid. We would expect our costs for defending a wrongful dismissal claim to be between £1,000 and £2,000 plus VAT assuming that there is not a complicated factual matrix behind the dismissal or you wish to lodge a counterclaim.

The pricing below relates to unfair dismissal claims only. If an employee brings other claims against you such as discrimination, harassment or unlawful deduction of wages the cost may be higher as more work will need to be done to defend the claim. If this is the case we would, as we do with all our clients, discuss the likely cost with you at the outset of the matter and keep you up to date on the costs incurred as the matter progresses.

The pricing below is intended to act as a guide so that you can understand the likely costs involved in defending a claim for unfair dismissal which ends up at a final hearing.

As each case is different and you should speak with us so that we can give you a more accurate quote. The costs which are indicated below will vary depending on our level of involvement with your matter.

  • Straightforward case: £8,000 - £12,000 (excluding VAT)
  • A case with some complicated facts: £12,000 - £18,000 (excluding VAT)
  • A highly complicated case: £18,000 or more (excluding VAT)

Factors which could make a case more complex or cost more include:

  • a long history of events which lead to the dismissal;
  • a claim of constructive unfair dismissal;
  • the number of witnesses and documents;
  • the number of days which the hearing is listed for;
  • allegations of discrimination or harassment/ bullying which are linked to dismissal;
  • making or defending a cost application;
  • if you wanted a conference with counsel or meetings with witnesses;
  • if the claim is for automatically unfair dismissal e.g. if the employee was dismissed after blowing the whistle; and
  • if there are significant preliminary issues which have to be dealt with such as determining whether you are disabled (to the extent not agreed) or defending applications for a deposit or strike out order.
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If you would like a member of our team to attend the hearing, then there would be an additional charge of between £750 and £1,250 per day plus VAT.

In addition to our fees, you will need to pay the fees of a barrister to represent you. The fees of a barrister vary depending on the experience of the advocate and how good they are! In our experience, the initial fee for a barrister and the first day of the hearing (known as the brief fee) will be in the region of £1,000 - £3,000 plus VAT. Each subsequent day would be an additional £500 - £1,500 plus VAT. If you want a very experienced barrister then the cost is likely to be more. You may also incur additional charges such as travel costs for us to attend meetings and hearings. You will also need to pay the costs of printing, photocopying and storage which should not exceed approximately £80 plus VAT.

The fees which we have set out above cover all of the work in relation to the key stages of a claim. They include:

  • taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely costs (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change);
  • entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  • reviewing and advising on the claim from the other party;
  • preparing the response to the claim;
  • exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process;
  • preparing or considering a schedule of loss;
  • preparing for (and attending) a preliminary hearing (if necessary);
  • exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents;
  • taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses;
  • preparing bundle of documents;
  • reviewing and advising on the other party's witness statements;
  • agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list; and
  • preparation for the final hearing, including instructions to Counsel.

Obviously, if you reach a settlement before the final hearing or some of the stages are not needed then the fee may be reduced. Equally, fees may increase due to unexpected circumstances or additional stages, if this is likely to happen then we would discuss this with you.

We are often asked how long a matter will take. This unfortunately is as about as easy to answer as the question “how long is a piece of string”. It will depend on whether you settle or end up at a final hearing. If you do end up at a final hearing, then the date of the hearing will depend on how busy the employment tribunal is and when they can fit you in.

If you settle during ACAS early conciliation, it is likely to take between two and six weeks from the date on which you commence the conciliation. If you end up at full hearing then in our experience the final hearing will be between five and nine months from the date that the employee’s claim, depending on the length of hearing and the availability of judges. You may then have to wait for a decision if the tribunal needs more time to consider the evidence and give a reserved judgment.

We should be able to give you a more accurate timescale when we discuss your case with you.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when considering defending a claim for unfair dismissal. We highly recommend that you ring one of our excellent employment lawyers to discuss the case, its merits and the likely costs.

Our employment team comprises of:

Gill Brown

Solicitor and Director

£265 plus VAT per hour

01256 854605

Jack Gardener

Solicitor and Director

£265 plus VAT per hour

01256 854665

Kathleen Tingle

Solicitor

£200 plus VAT per hour

01256 854670