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Employment law costs

The employment solicitors at Ironmonger Curtis with Bell & Buxton have years of experience at providing clear estimates regarding costs for employment tribunal cases.

For legal advice call us on 0114 249 59 69 or ask a question

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Employment law costs

‘Unfair dismissal’ is a claim that an employee raises which (as it sounds) they believe to be unfair. ‘Wrongful dismissal’ is where an employer dismisses an employee in breach of contract – for instance by not paying them the proper notice.

There are many different types of claims that can be brought in an Employment Tribunal (unlawful deductions from wages, harassment, discrimination, employee status claims etc). Claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal are some of the most common types of claims and follow the most standard process.

If you would like a flowchart of the key stages in an Employment Tribunal claim or a quote for your specific matter then please contact our employment solicitors who will be able to provide more information.


‘Costs’ are the sums that are payable to Ironmonger Curtis for the legal work in a claim. They are sometimes referred to as ‘legal fees’.

Low complexity case:                      £3,750 to £5,250 (excluding VAT)

Medium complexity case:               £5,250 to £9,500 (excluding VAT)

High complexity case:                     £9,500 to £15,000 (excluding VAT)

The above are broad guidelines in how much a claim will cost to progress. At the outset of the matter we will review your case, provide you with an assessment of your prospects of success (i.e. how likely it is that you will win) in either bringing or defending the claim and then will set out the fees which will be incurred at each stage of the claim.

Factors that could make a case more complex:

  • The number of witnesses (the more witnesses there are the more time will need to be spent on drafting witness statements, arranging their attendance at the hearing and taking instructions);
  • The number of documents (where an employee has been employed for a long period of time or has raised a large amount of complaints there are normally a lot more documents. To allow us to be secure that we are aware of all facts and issues in the case we will need to review these documents in full);
  • If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if the Claimant is dismissed after blowing the whistle (whistleblowing), if the Claimant is dismissed for raising a statutory complaint (such as the right to pay) or if the Claimant has raised a health and safety / working time dismissal claim;
  • If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim;
  • Where the claim is of a high value;
  • Where the claim tests a unique or convoluted set of facts which may push the boundaries of the current case law;
  • 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 or whether the claimant is an employee (if this is not agreed by the parties);
  • Where multiple claims are brought by the same individual i.e. not just an unfair dismissal claim but also linking this with a claim for unlawful deductions, failure to allow for a representative at an internal hearing, failure to pay holiday pay etc. Whilst all these claims may stem from the same matter they will each require individual attending.
  • Allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal.


There may also be other costs in dealing with your matter known as ‘disbursements’. Disbursements are the term used for costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties.

These could be costs such as train fares to get to hearings, courier costs to send key documents securely to the other side, barristers fees (covered in more detail below), costs of requesting medical evidence on a Claimant, cost of instructing a specific expert to provide evidence at a hearing.

We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. We do not charge extra for office disbursements such as postal charges or copying costs. We will not incur disbursements unless these are expressly agreed by you.

Key Stages

The fees set out above cover all of the work in relation to the following key stages of a claim:

  • 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 subject to change. This may also affect the quote and whether the matter is considered to be low, medium or high complexity);
  • Entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  • Preparing a claim or response;
  • Reviewing and advising on claim or response from other party;
  • Exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process;
  • Preparing or considering a schedule of loss / counter schedule of loss;
  • Preparing for (and attending) a Preliminary Hearing based on Case Management (this would normally only be incurred in a medium or high complexity claim);
  • Exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing / preparing a bundle of documents;
  • Taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses;
  • Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements.

The stages set out above are an indication and if some of stages above are not required, this will be reflected in the fees.

There may be other specialist costs which are not normally incurred in unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal claim – such as a judicial mediation or private mediation – which we will quote for on a case by case basis. These types of costs would be more common in discrimination claims.

You may wish to handle the claim yourself and only have our advice in relation to some of the stages. This can also be arranged on your individual needs. We will provide you with a breakdown of the relevant costs at the start of the matter and you will be able to decide on how to most cost effectively manage the claim – this could be by producing a bundle of documents yourself.


‘Advocacy’ is the process of appearing in a Tribunal Hearing to cross examine witnesses and provide legal submissions to a judge (or full Tribunal panel) as to why our client should be success in bringing or defending a claim.

This is the final part of the claim and involves the case going to a Tribunal Hearing. A low complexity case will normally have a hearing lasting only one day. A medium complexity case will have a hearing lasting 2 – 4 days and a high complexity case will last 5 days or more.

At Ironmonger Curtis with Bell & Buxton we provide our own advocacy services. You will be advised by a member of the employment law team from the first instruction until the final hearing.

The cost of the Tribunal Hearing itself is charged on the basis of preparation for the hearing and attendance at the actual days. This would also include the fees in the following final stages of a claim:

  • Agreeing a list of issues – essentially an agreed list of what is to be decided at a final hearing. This is ordered to be produced by a Tribunal where both parties are represented. In any event, these are a useful tool for us to produce so we know the main issues in a matter and what is in dispute.
  • A chronology – a list of the key stages in a matter and what happened at each point. These are not always necessary but are useful where the background to a matter has occurred over a long period or where there are multiple issues – for instance a disciplinary process running at the same time as a grievance process.
  • A cast list – this is a schedule containing all the key individuals in a matter and their role. This is only necessary where there are lots of individuals involved in a matter, over and above just the investigating officer, the disciplinary officer and the appeal officer.

Preparation time would be a fixed cost of £1,500 to £3,000 (excluding VAT) where the matter was a Low or Medium complexity case. This cost would include the first day of the Tribunal Hearing.

Where the case lasts for more than one day then there is cost of £750.00 (excluding VAT) for each additional day of the hearing for a low complexity case.

There would also be a cost of a Preliminary Hearing to decide on a specific issue (such as if the Claimant is disabled or whether they are an employee or self-employed). This would normally incur a fee of between £750.00 to £1,500 (excluding VAT).

Where we are not able to perform the advocacy (or if you would prefer) then we will instruct a Barrister (known as Counsel) to perform the advocacy services at the Employment Tribunal Hearing.

We may instruct Counsel because our solicitors are unavailable on the day set down by the Tribunal because of workload or leave. We will normally instruct Counsel in complex cases or where hearings are due to last over 5 days. Counsel’s fees will be similar to the costs set out above but will vary depending on the level of post qualification experience of the Barrister and whether we wish them to provide other services such as an assessment of prospects or list of issues.

How long will my matter take?

The time that 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 4 to 6 weeks.

If your claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, your case is likely to take 3 to 4 months if this is a low complexity case (this would be in addition to the time for pre-claim conciliation).

Where a case is of medium complexity this can take up to 6 months or longer if the matter is of a high complexity. This is normally based on the availability of the Tribunal to actually hear a claim that is longer than one day.

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.

Who will deal with the claim?

The claim will be overseen by the specialist solicitors in the Employment Law team. Our solicitors will be assisted from time to time by appropriate non-qualified staff.

For business law advice call 0114 249 59 69


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