Employment Tribunal Fee
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Bringing or defending employment tribunal claims can be a stressful and time-consuming period, especially if you want to keep your claim private. So understandably, employment tribunal fees are the last thing you want to worry about. The good news is that you may not have to pay any fees depending on the outcome of your case. With the help of an experienced solicitor, you can deal with your employment tribunal claim and get the representation you need through the tribunal process from start to finish, as well as pragmatic advice as to how to progress or resolve matters. Read on to learn more about employment tribunal fees.
The Cost Of Making An Employment Tribunal Claim
Before submitting a claim, all employees have to follow the ACAS Early Conciliation (“EC”) process. This gives both parties a chance to resolve the dispute without the need to go to the employment tribunal. An employment law solicitor can begin advising you at this stage to try and resolve the matter before employment tribunal proceedings have been commenced. If ACAS EC is not successful, you will need to make an employment tribunal claim. The good news is that you will not have to pay any fees to make a claim.
Having said that, it’s worth taking into account the cost of legal representation. While there is no legal obligation to seek the services of a solicitor to make a tribunal claim, a solicitor can assist you or your organisation in bringing or defending any subsequent claim that is lodged with an employment tribunal. If you want to give your claim a fighting chance at success, you may find it helpful to get advice from a solicitor.
Factors That Can Make An Employment Tribunal Case More Complex
The cost of legal representation can vary depending on the complexity of your case. For example, your case may be more complex if it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim. Similarly, it is more complex to defend claims that are brought by litigants in person; that is people who are not legally represented. Defending these types of claims is nearly always more time-consuming because the litigant in person is unfamiliar with legal processes and issues.
You can also expect costs to increase when making or defending a cost application. Complex preliminary issues, such as time limits or whether the claimant is/was an employee, can also increase legal expenses. Even factors such as the number of witnesses and documents in the claim can make your case more complicated and increase your legal fees. With this in mind, it’s worth checking if any of your insurance policies cover legal expenses. Alternatively, if you’re a member of a trade union, they may be able to help cover such costs.
It is worth noting that cases involving discrimination or whistle-blowing tend to be more expensive because the additional legal complexities involved require more work and longer hearings. To learn more, read our guide on avoiding hypersensitive tribunal claims.
Situations Where You May Have To Pay Employment Tribunal Fees
If you lose your case, there is a small chance that you may have to pay the other party’s employment tribunal fees. For example, if your case had no chance at success, you will likely have to pay the other party’s costs. Similarly, if you behaved unreasonably in the way you handled your case or turned down a reasonable settlement offer, you may have to pay.
In such cases, there is no limit to the amount you could end up paying. For this reason, it is wise to make sure that your claim is reasonable. Equally, it’s important to be truthful and behave reasonably when dealing with your case.
When You Can Claim Employment Tribunal Fees
If you win your case and have legal representation, you may be able to make a costs order. Though the judge will only make the order if the other party’s claim was unreasonable or if they acted poorly.
If you don’t have legal representation, the employment tribunal can order a preparation time order, ordering the other party to cover the time you spent preparing for the case. Note that you cannot get both a costs order and a preparation time order.
Costs that are related to your matter, payable to third parties, are known as disbursements. This can include barrister’s (also known as counsel) fees, the cost of medical reports, travel expenses to the tribunal hearing and court fees in the county court or the high court. There are currently no fees to pay in the employment tribunal. Your solicitor will handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
What Do Your Legal Representation Fees Cover
The cost of legal representation should cover all of the work in relation to the following key stages of a claim:
- Following your initial instructions, advising you on merits and possible compensation after reviewing your papers (often revisited throughout your matter and likely to change)
- Pre-claim conciliation where it is mandatory to investigate if a settlement can be reached
- Preparing responses or claims
- Advising and reviewing and advising claims and responses from the other party
- Exploring and negotiating settlements during the process
- Considering or preparing a schedule of loss
- Attending and preparing for Preliminary Hearings
- Agreeing on documents and exchanging with the other parties
- Drafting and taking witness statements, as well as agreeing content with witnesses
- Advising and reviewing the other party’s witness statements
- Agreeing a list chronology and/or cast list of issues
- Attendance and preparation at Final Hearing, in addition to instructions to counsel
In some cases, you may wish to handle the claim yourself and only have advice concerning some of the stages. Doing so can help to reduce your legal fees.
How Long Will My Matter Take?
How long your matter takes, from the moment you give your initial instructions to your final resolution, will depend on what stage your case is able to be resolved. Cases settled during a pre-claim conciliation are likely to take 2 to 6 weeks.
When a claim is submitted to a tribunal, the employer should have a copy of this claim form within a matter of days from the Tribunal Service. The employer will have 28 days to respond. However, many tribunal centres have a backlog with many taking weeks to process a claim.
If a claim proceeds to a final hearing, this will approximately take around 9 months. Again, however, this period of time will vary based on the demands of the tribunal system.
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All advice is correct at time of publication.