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Employment - small businesses

Pricing Information  for small businesses in respect if Employment Tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal). 

Small business means a sole trader or business employing up to 49 people.

Service Description - 1.3(f):

All of the fee information set out below is based on the following hourly rates of lawyers within our team.

The range of hourly rates within each band of lawyers depends on the seniority of the lawyer, and their office location.

The indicative cost of each stage of the process will depend on the seniority of the lawyer who is advising you - this would always be your choice - where the lawyer is based  (this would depend on where you are based, and the likely venue for the Employment Tribunal claim) - and whether or not the former Employee is legally represented.

Status Charge-out rate per hour 
Partner £285 - £400 + VAT
Legal Director  £250- £350 + VAT
Senior Associate £250 - £350 + VAT
Associate £200 - £275 + VAT
Solicitor £160 - £200 + VAT
Trainee Solicitor £140 + VAT
Paralegal £75 - £140 + VAT

Please note that any reference to VAT in this statement is at the current rate of 20% unless otherwise stated.

We have a range of experienced individuals who would work on your case. In order to find out more about who they are, their qualifications and level of experience please follow the link.   

Stage 1A: Initial assessment of your case once a claim has been threatened

Once you let us know that a former employee has threatened to issue an Unfair Dismissal or Wrongful Dismissal claim against you, we would:

  • Take instructions from you to understand your former employee's case, and your legal position;
  • Review all of the relevant documents;
  • Advise you about the strengths and weaknesses of your position, and provide you with an idea of how likely it is that you will be able to defend a claim from your former employee successfully; and
  • Give initial tactical advice, including whether you should try to settle the dispute on commercial terms before the employee actually issues a claim.

The typical range of costs for this stage is:  £500 to £4,500 + VAT, depending on:

  • How complicated the instruction is;
  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • How many documents there are for us to consider; and
  • Whether you would like us to advise you in person, in writing or over the phone - again, this would be your choice.  Advising in person or in writing tends to be more expensive than advising by telephone (especially if you would like us to come to your premises).

Stage 1B: Pre-claim conciliation  

Employees cannot issue a claim for Unfair Dismissal or Wrongful Dismissal in the Employment Tribunal unless they have started a Pre-Claim Conciliation process via ACAS. 

The aim of the Pre-Claim Conciliation process is to see if a potential claim can be settled by agreement before a claim is actually issued.

The first time you may find out that an employee wants to issue a Unfair Dismissal or Wrongful Dismissal claim against you may be when you receive notification from ACAS of their potential claim.

The Pre-Claim Conciliation process will last for a month, although it can be extended by agreement  for up to two weeks.

The Pre-Claim Conciliation process might also come to an end before the end of that month if it is clear that no deal will be done.

If you would like us to support you at this stage, we would:

  • Liaise with ACAS;  and
  • Help you with any negotiations during this Pre-Claim Conciliation period.

The typical range of costs for this stage is:  £500 to £4,500 + VAT, depending on:

  • How complicated the instruction is;
  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • How many documents there are for us to consider;
  • Whether you would like us to advise you in person, in writing or over the phone - again, this would be your choice.  Advising in person or in writing tends to be more expensive than advising by telephone (especially if you would like us to come to your premises); and
  • The attitude taken by you and your former employee to the negotiation process.  For example:  the process would come to an end quickly if you do not want to make an offer, or the former employee accepts your first offer,  or they have completely unreasonable expectations of the value of their claim.  Alternatively there may be more detailed negotiations.

Stage 2: Recording a settlement 

If the negotiations under Stage 1A and/or 1B result in a settlement, those terms will need to be recorded in a document called a "COT3" or a Settlement Agreement.

We would negotiate the terms of the Agreement for you, and manage the signature process for you.

The typical range of costs for this stage is:  £500 to £2,500 + VAT, depending on:

  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • The complexity of the Agreement; and
  • The attitude taken by you and your former employee to the negotiation of the terms of the Agreement.

Stage 3: Defending a claim in the employment tribunal 

If the Pre-Claim Conciliation process does not result in a deal, and your former employee then issues an Employment Tribunal claim for Unfair Dismissal or Wrongful Dismissal, the next stage would be you receiving notification of their claim from the Employment Tribunal.

This will be in a form called an ET1, in which your former employee is called "the Claimant", and you are "the Respondent".

At the same time, the Tribunal will tell you when and where the case will be heard, and will also set out a timetable for the steps you and the Claimant will have to take before that final hearing.

You will have 28 days from the date on which you receive the ET1 to file your defence on a form called an ET3.

If  you do not file an ET3, a default Judgment will automatically be issued against you.  This means that, when you receive an ET1, you should let us know as soon as possible.

We would then discuss all relevant issues with you, including:

  • The strengths and weaknesses of your position and the Claimant's position;
  • Any witnesses we would need to speak to, and any further documents we would need to see;
  • The likely costs of dealing with each stage of the claim process;
  • Whether or not you want to settle the claim on commercial terms, before we lodge the ET3; and
  • How you will be paying for each stage of the process, including whether you have legal expenses insurance which would cover our fees.

Once you had decided that you wanted to defend a claim, we would prepare the paperwork for you, to check and approve.

That work would include:

  • Reviewing the claim form (the ET1);
  • Drafting the defence form (the ET3); and
  • Drafting a Grounds of Resistance document, which sets out the details of your defence.

Once you have approved that paperwork, we would lodge it at the Employment Tribunal, electronically.

The typical range of costs for this stage is:  £1,000 to £7,000 + VAT, depending on:

  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • The amount of paperwork relevant to your case; and
  • The number of potential witnesses we would need to speak to.

We may advise you at this stage in exceptional cases that you should apply to the Employment Tribunal to strike out the claim (if for example the Claimant did not have sufficient service to bring an Unfair Dismissal claim), or for an order that the Claimant should pay a deposit as a condition of continuing with their claim (if the claim is very weak).

The typical range of costs for making these applications is:  £1,000 to £5,000 + VAT, depending on:

  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • The amount of paperwork relevant to the issues; and
  • Whether or not there would need to be a hearing of your application, or the Employment Tribunal was prepared to deal with it on paper.

Stage 4: Dealing with the case timetable 

As the Respondent, the steps you will need to take with us during the case timetable will include:

  • A review of the Claimant's Schedule of Loss, which is a document setting out the value of the Claimant's claim, and possibly the submission of Counter-Schedule of Loss;
  • The disclosure process, under which both the Claimant and the Respondent prepare lists of all documents they have which are relevant to the issues in the case, and provide copies of those documents to each other;
  • The agreement and preparation of a Hearing Bundle, which will contain all of the papers which the Employment Tribunal will see at the final hearing; and
  • The preparation of Witness Statements, setting out the evidence which your witnesses will give at the final hearing; and
  • A review of the Claimant's Witness Statements.

The typical range of costs for the Tribunal timetable is  £2,000 to £12,000 + VAT, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • The volume of paperwork;
  • The number of witnesses you need to call, and the length of their statements;
  • The Claimant's approach to the agreement of the contents of the Bundle.

Either you or the Claimant may ask the Tribunal to decide various issues during this process, in which case the Tribunal may ask you and the Claimant to take part in a hearing, at which those issues will be resolved by the Tribunal.

These hearings can take place in person, or by telephone, depending on the Tribunal and the types of issue to be considered.

We would generally represent you at the hearing, or we may advise you that we should instruct a specialist Barrister to represent you.  This will depend on the type of hearing, and whether it is to be by telephone or at the Tribunal itself.

The typical range of costs for dealing with such a hearing is  £500 to £5,500 + VAT, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • How complicated the legal issues are;
  • Whether it is to be by telephone or at the Tribunal itself;
  • The length of the hearing;
  • The volume of any paperwork;
  • Whether or not we will need witnesses at the hearing, and/or a bundle of documents; and
  • Whether or not we instruct a Barrister to do the hearing for us.  A Barrister's Fee for a hearing on a simple issue is generally in the range of £750 - £2,500 + VAT.

At each stage of the process, we would continue to review the strengths and weaknesses of the Claimant's and your legal and commercial positions in relation to the Claimant's claims, and consider with you whether, and (if so) on what terms, you should try to settle the case.

The costs of dealing with these issues would be similar to the range of fees set out in STAGES 1A and 2, above.

Stage 5: The final hearing 

If the claims are not settled, we will instruct a Barrister to represent you at the hearing as the date of the final hearing approaches.

We will agree the Barrister's fees for the hearing with their Clerk.

The Barrister's fee will depend on:

  • The length of the hearing;
  • The complexity of the issues;
  • The size of the Bundle; and
  • The seniority and experience of the Barrister.

We have an excellent relationship with several experienced Barristers, which means we can negotiate best value fees with the best Barristers for your case.

By way of indication, the fee of a Barrister for representing a Respondent at a one-day Hearing would be likely to be between £750 - £3,000 + VAT, depending on the complexity of the issues and the size of the Bundle.

We may decide with you that it would be best to have a meeting with the Barrister before the hearing.  This could be in person or by telephone.  Whether or not we do this depends on the complexity of the case, or whether there are any issues which the Barrister wants to discuss.

Our fee for attending such a conference would be in the range of £500 - £3,000 + VAT, depending on the complexity of the issues.

You should also budget for the cost of dealing with any issues which arise in the weeks leading up to the hearing, such as the appearance of new documents, and any issues with the witnesses or the Tribunal administration system.  Such work could cost in the region of £500 - £2,000 + VAT.

We will also discuss with you whether you would like us to come to the hearing as well as the Barrister.  Typically our charges for attending with the Barrister will be £750 - £1,500 + VAT per day, together with the cost of any overnight accommodation.

How long will my matter take?

The time it takes from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take four to eight weeks. If your claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, your case is liable to take 26 - 52 weeks. 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 as the matter progresses. Hearing dates are determined by the Employment Tribunal and are out of our control. 

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