An unfair dismissal claim arises when an employee has been dismissed and they believe the dismissal was in breach of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and therefore unfair.
The person bringing the claim is called the claimant. In an unfair dismissal claim, the entity responding to the claim is the former employer and is called the respondent.
If the claimant was summarily dismissed (dismissed without notice) they may also have a claim for wrongful dismissal and as such they would make a claim for the notice pay they say they should have been paid.
According to HMCTS, the process for a straight-forward unfair dismissal claim would follow is:
- Dispute arises.
- Try to resolve it informally or directly, if not, Acas early conciliation.
- If Acas early conciliation is not successful, the claim is then presented to the ET office.
- It should then take 5 days for the claim to be acknowledged and accepted. It is then sent to the respondent.
- The respondent then has 28 days to present a response.
- If necessary, there is a preliminary case management hearing.
- Directions are issued. The steps which would need to be taken are:
- The claimant produces a schedule of loss (what is being claim in monetary terms).
- Both parties make a list of all relevant documents and compare that with the other side’s.
- Any documents which have not been seen and which are held by the other side are provided.
- Those documents are collated into a bundle for use at the hearing (usually the respondent does this task).
- Both sides draft and prepare written witness statements for the hearing. Witness statements are exchanged with the other side and their statements are reviewed.
- Details are then provided to a barrister to provide representation at the final hearing.
- It is HMCTS’s target for the final hearing to be held within 26 weeks of the claim commencing.
- If oral judgment is not given at the final hearing, the target is for a written judgment to be issued within a further 4 weeks.
This is an example of a very straight-forward unfair dismissal claim, with no complications.
In reality, there will almost always be other factors which come into play. For example, in our experience, unfair dismissal hearings are not taking place within 26 weeks. This is because the ET is currently under resourced. Hearings are being postponed due to a lack of judges. Sometime one party will ask for and be granted a postponement.
Sometimes the case is not allocated to a judge and ‘floats’. This means that the system relies upon other cases settling and so resources become available; this does not always happen.
It would be more realistic to say that the final hearing would take place within 52-weeks, but even then, it can take longer than that.
An unfair dismissal claim will take longer, be more complex and cost more if other claims are brought in addition to unfair dismissal, eg:
- Transfers of Undertakings (TUPE);
- Health and Safety/Trade Union/Working Time
- Unlawful deductions from wages.
For a claimant, a straight-forward unfair dismissal case could cost on average £10,000 + vat. It is likely to cost more for a respondent as they usually have more witnesses, so an employer can expect costs on average of £13,000 + vat.
We charge an hourly rate for the work we undertake for you. This depends upon the level and experience of your representative. It ranges from £160 + vat for a trainee solicitor or paralegal to £275 + vat for a solicitor. The hourly rate may increase during the course of a transaction.
Employment work is supervised by a solicitor with over 20- years’ experience working full-time in the employment field, who has handled over 500+ cases and has judicial experience.
We would expect a barrister to represent you at a final hearing. That cost depends upon how experienced the barrister is and how long the hearing is set to last for.
As a guide, you can expect to pay around £2,000-£3,500 + vat for representation at a one day hearing. A longer hearing will cost more, probably an additional £750-£1,500 + vat per day.
Please contact us for a specific quote in respect of your case.
It is important to note that the ET is a costs neutral jurisdiction, so in general, each side is responsible for their own costs. Costs awards are rare, so the successful party should not expect the unsuccessful party to pay their costs.
You should be aware that when ETs (then called Industrial Tribunals) were set up in 1965, the aim was to make them easily accessible and informal, so that the parties could feel confident to represent themselves. Unfortunately, the claims which can be brought before the ET increased (there are currently over 120-claims for which the ET has jurisdiction) and so it has become more common for the parties to be represented. The representative does not have to be a lawyer. You can be represented by anyone you desire to represent you and that can include a friend/relative, an employee or a Trade Union official.
There are other sources of representation and advice, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Law Centres, Trade Unions and you should check whether or not you have legal expenses insurance (usually found as an add-on on insurance policies, such as household insurance, credit cards or car insurance).
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If you would like to discuss a potential unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal claim in more detail and would like further information about our charges, please contact us on 01273 249200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.