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Unfair Dismissal Claims

Employment Tribunal Claims – Unfair Dismissal and Wrongful Dismissal

Costs of Services

Following the dismissal or resignation of an employee, an employee may decide to bring a Tribunal Claim for unfair and/or wrongful dismissal.  Before any claim can be commenced in the Employment Tribunal, an employee needs to commence the Early Conciliation Process through ACAS which involves the completion of an online form and then telephone discussions with an ACAS Early Conciliator who will liaise with both the employee and the employer.  If the claim is not settled or withdrawn during this conciliation process (which lasts for up to 4 weeks and may be extended by a further 2 weeks) then the employee is free to bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal within certain time frames. This will involve the completion of a Claim Form outlining the employee’s case and the nature of the dispute.  Once that Claim Form is served upon the employer, the employer usually has 28 days to file a Response Form setting out the nature of the employer’s defence to the employee’s claim.

Once the Response Form is filed with the Employment Tribunal, the Tribunal will either list the matter for an interim hearing (known as a Preliminary Hearing) to state what needs to be done for the rest of the case to get it ready for a final hearing or if the case is less complex, simply make Directions in writing for how the case is to be dealt with without the need for an interim hearing.

If the matter reaches a final hearing (and often cases are settled/compromised before they get that far) then witness evidence will need to be given to the Tribunal and a Judge sitting alone (if it is simply a claim for unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal) will make a decision. 

 At SME Solicitors, we charge you for the time we spend working on your particular matter.  We therefore advise you at the outset of the fee earner(s) assigned to your matter and their hourly rate.  Once we have reviewed your matter, we will give you an estimate of the costs involved and it is possible that this estimate may change as further information comes to light or external factors influence the matter. 


Range of Costs

Our pricing for bringing and defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal, including constructive dismissal, are as follows:-

  1. Less complex case: £6,000 to £10,000* (+ VAT at 20%)
  2. More complicated case: £10,000 to £14,000 (+ VAT at 20%)
  3. Complex case: £14,000 to £18,000 (+ VAT at 20%)

* If your claim is for wrongful dismissal only and simply involves non-payment of notice pay then your claim will generally cost less than £6,000 (+ VAT at 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 namely those without legal representation (or potentially, defended by a small employer acting through one of its Directors or Partners, or a sole trader); 
  • Making or defending a costs application; 
  • Complex preliminary issues such as whether the former employee is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties); 
  • The number of witnesses and documents; 
  • If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim for example if an employee is dismissed after blowing the whistle on their former employer;
  • Allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal n.b. if a claim does involve any element of discrimination, then the costings for less complex, more complicated and complex cases will need to be re-assessed; and
  • An interim hearing (known as a Preliminary Hearing which takes place before the final hearing) that requires us to represent you at the tribunal.

There will be an additional charge for a fee-earner attending a tribunal hearing of approximately £2,500 per day (+ VAT at 20%).  Generally, we would allow 2 to 3 days depending on the complexity of your case.

In the figures referred to above, an assumption is made that we do not need to chase you for the receipt of important information including documents.


Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Court fees.  We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. 

Barrister (Counsel) fees are estimated as between £1,500 to £2,000 (+ VAT at 20%) per day (depending on experience of the Advocate) for attending a tribunal hearing (including preparation).

Travelling expenses to and from the tribunal are charged at 45 pence per mile (+ VAT at 20%).  Parking fees are also payable.

If an employee has lost the benefit of a pension scheme, then pension experts’ fees may be incurred for calculating the loss of pension rights and these will cost between £500 to £1,000 (+ VAT at 20%). 

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 re-visited throughout the matter and subject to change); 
  • Entering into pre-claim conciliation where it is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  • Preparing claim or response;
  • Reviewing and advising on claim or response from other parties;
  • Exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process;
  • Preparing or considering a Schedule of Loss;
  • Preparing for (and attending) a Preliminary Hearing; 
  • Exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of


  • Taking witness statements, drafting statements and agreeing their content with witnesses;
  • Preparing and agreeing a 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 potentially a Skeleton Argument; and
  • Preparation and attendance at a final hearing, including Instructions to Counsel.

The stages set out above are an indication and if some of the stages above are not required, the fee will be reduced.  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.

Other Ways to Pay

You may have legal expenses insurance to cover a claim which is generally available to employees rather than employers.  This will be explored at the initial meeting.  If you have, it is important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible because it is unlikely that it will cover any fees incurred prior to being notified of a potential claim.  Legal expenses insurers often have various firms of solicitors on their panel whom they would wish you to use.  It is often possible for you to be in a position to choose the solicitor that you wish to use in matters involved before bringing a claim and once a claim is about to be commenced, it is obligatory for a legal expenses insurer to allow you to use the solicitor of your choice.

In some cases, depending on the value of the claim and the complexity of the case among other matters, it may be possible for us to act for an employee on the basis of a no win, no fee agreement known as a contingency fee agreement.  Again, this will be explored at the initial interview.

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 and the level of work being dealt with by the regional tribunal that is dealing with your case.  If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take 2 to 3 weeks.  If your claim proceeds to a final hearing, your case is likely to take 8 to 9 months and possibly longer depending upon tribunal availability and the length of the hearing.  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.

Our Team and their Individual Hourly Rates

Our team has a number of years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to defending and claiming unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal.

We have three members of the team who may work on your matter.  Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by Guy Salter, Partner and Head of Employment.

  • Guy Salter, Partner, Solicitor:         £300.00 per hour + VAT at 20% (£60.00)
  • David Denovan-Smith, Solicitor:    £285.00 per hour + VAT at 20% (£57.00)

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