Employment Tribunal Fee Guidance for Employers (Respondents)

Our highly experienced team of 22 qualified employment solicitors are capable of dealing with every type and complexity of employment tribunal claim. The biographies of all of our employment lawyers are available on our website.

Our current trainees and paralegals in the team are also likely to be involved in some aspects of your case under supervision. 

Jeanette Wheeler is a Partner and Head of the Birketts Employment Team and local office team supervision is managed as follows:

The cost of defending an employment tribunal claim will depend on a significant range of factors, not all of which can be anticipated at the outset of the matter, including: complexity of the legal and factual issues; the amount of documentary evidence involved; the number of witnesses involved and the length of any hearing; whether the claim settles early or late in the process; the way the case is conducted by the individual claimant (your employee/former employee bringing the claim(s)); whether there are preliminary issues which need to be resolved by the employment tribunal before a case can go to a full merits hearing (for example 'out of time' points, employee status issues etc), as well as other factors which cannot be easily anticipated. Some cases may be listed for a separate remedies hearing and costs hearing. 

The total cost will also depend on the seniority of those dealing with the matter. Our costs are charged according to the hourly rate(s) applicable to the fee earner(s) carrying out the work. The hourly rates of the employment team range from £115 to £310 per hour. We will advise you of the fee rates applicable to your matter at the outset. 

Cases which include discrimination claims, maternity or pregnancy related claims, holiday pay claims, TUPE, whistleblowing and other more complex claims in addition to ordinary unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal (this is a breach of contract claim relating to the non-payment of notice monies) will fall to be estimated individually and are outside the scope of this fee guidance. 

As an employer you may have had some notice that an employee/former employee is considering bringing a claim because he or she is obliged to contact Acas first to allow it to explore the possibility of early conciliation. We can assist you at this early stage should you wish us to. Where matters have not been resolved at that stage the employee/former employee will be issued with a certificate (certificate number) by Acas which they will have to include on any Employment Tribunal Claim Form (sometimes referred to as an ET1). 

Once you have received a copy of the Claim Form from the tribunal you will have 28 days to file your defence on a Response Form (referred to as an ET3). This is the start of the employment tribunal litigation process. 

Estimated costs for defending unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims

Our costs for acting for an employer in defence of a straightforward claim for unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal at a one day employment tribunal hearing with no more than two witnesses are likely to be in the range of £5,000 plus VAT to £7,000 plus VAT, plus the barrister’s fees for undertaking the advocacy at the hearing on the day. The barrister’s fees are likely to be between £1,500 and £3,000 plus VAT per day (depending on the seniority of barrister, complexity of the case and volume of documentation) plus the barrister’s accommodation and travel expenses (known as 'disbursements'). 

The fee range quoted above will include:

  • reviewing and checking the information on the Claim Form (ET1)
  • taking detailed information from you about what happened, obtaining all of the related e-mails, letters, texts and other documentary evidence which is held by those in your business and which relates to the matter and issues in dispute and reviewing these
  • drafting and submitting the Response Form (ET3)
  • advising on the merits (strengths and weaknesses) of the claim(s) and considering any schedule of loss provided by the claimant
  • speaking to Acas and liaising and negotiating throughout to ascertain if an agreement can be reached without the need for a hearing and concluding any settlement terms
  • preparing a list of documents in accordance with the tribunal’s directions (usually issued once the Response Form has been accepted)
  • preparing a list of issues/completing an agenda and attempting to agree this with the other side
  • preparing a bundle of documents for use at the hearing and agreeing this with the other side and preparing sufficient copies for use at the hearing (usually at least four copies)
  • preparing and drafting and exchanging witness statements (up to two witnesses) with the other side. Considering and drafting short supplementary statements (if required) to cover issues arising from the claimant’s witness statement. 
  • instructing a barrister. 
  • attendance (normally by a trainee) at the merits hearing of the claim and advising you on the outcome.

The above are an indication of what’s required and if some of the stages above are not required, the costs will be at the lower end of the fee range quoted above. We will always provide you with an individual cost estimate at the outset of dealing with a claim, once we know further details of what the claim involves. Please note, we do not offer clients a free initial meeting to discuss the claim.

The fee range quoted above will not include:

  • requests for further and better particulars of the claim to better understand the case being brought by the claimant
  • dealing with an application and attending any hearing for interim relief made by an individual claiming an automatically unfair dismissal (eg for reasons relating to trade union membership or activities, health and safety, whistleblowing and other ‘automatically unfair’ reasons)
  • applications to the employment tribunal for compliance with directions, compulsory witness orders
  • applications to amend the defence in light of further information
  • making or defending a costs application or application for early strike out of a claim or application for a deposit order
  • complex preliminary issues such as whether the claim is in time or establishing the claimant’s employment status
  • preparing for a longer hearing with more witnesses and witness statements required
  • preparing detailed or multiple supplementary witness statements
  • defending a more complex automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if the claimant alleges he or she was dismissed after blowing the whistle on the employer
  • dealing with allegations of discrimination or other claims in addition to the unfair dismissal
  • any judicial or other formal mediation
  • giving any tax or pensions advice
  • preparation and attendance at preliminary hearings
  • preparation and attendance at a remedies or costs hearing
  • advising and representing in relation to any appeal.

We will keep you up to date with the costs incurred and inform you of any material change to the estimate as your matter progresses. 

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees and barristers’ fees and costs. Where these are payable we will ask you to put us in funds before we make the payment on your behalf. 

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, how busy the regional tribunal centre is and how quickly it can resolve any preliminary issues and list your claim for a full hearing. If the claim proceeds to a final hearing it is likely, based on current listing times, that your case will be listed to be heard around six to eight months of the date the claim was lodged. This is just an estimate and we will of course be able to update you on timescales once we have more information and as the matter progresses. It is likely to be significantly longer than this for cases requiring two or more days at the final hearing and/or any additional hearings.