Initial telephone call
Our specialist employment law team can assist you with an employment claim.
In the initial telephone call we aim to get a brief background of your case with a view to establishing whether it is sensible for you to be instructing a solicitor and how experienced a solicitor you are likely to need. We do not charge for the initial call.
Employment is a very complex area of law and most claims will turn on the specific facts of the case. We will not be able to provide you with a detailed assessment of your case during that first conversation. However, we will often be able to tell you if it seems unlikely that you would win, or that any claim would be worth bringing.
Unless we have agreed in writing to assess your case for free (or for a fixed price) we will charge for our services, from the first meeting onwards, applying our hourly rates. Our current range of hourly rates for members of the team is from £165 plus VAT to £450 plus VAT per hour. You will be informed of the hourly rate you will be charged before the first meeting. If you do not believe you have been provided with this information, please ensure that you ask the solicitor concerned what the rate is before attending any meeting.
Legal expenses insurance
You should check whether you have legal expenses insurance which might cover employment litigation. Legal expenses insurance is not usually taken out separately, but is in insurance policies primarily designed to cover other risks, such as:
- home contents and/or buildings insurance
- payment protection insurance
- car insurance
- credit card insurance
Most of our clients are not aware that they have such insurance until they check their policies.
Legal expenses insurance will not usually cover disciplinary or grievance proceedings, or internal appeals. However, it will cover you from the time the claim is issued, provided the claim in question has sufficiently strong prospects and the policy terms are met. It is also possible that you will be covered under an insurance policy held in the name of someone you live with.
If you are not sure whether your policy covers the type of claim you are thinking of bringing, we would be happy to discuss this with you, or check the terms for you.
If you find you do have legal expenses insurance, but you are told by your insurers that you must use their solicitors (or solicitors from their panel) it is usually possible to convince insurers to agree to your instructing your own solicitors, if you would prefer to do so.
No win, no fee
We are often asked if we take cases on a no win, no fee basis. This expression usually refers either to:
- conditional fees (under which the firm recovers at higher than its usual hourly rates in the event of a successful outcome); or
- contingency fees, or damages based agreements (under which the firm takes a percentage of any amount recovered, plus any barristers’ fees which have been incurred)
Unfortunately we can only consider a no win, no fee arrangement in the Employment Tribunal if the claim has very strong prospects and is a high value claim (i.e. one worth £75,000 or more). This is because of:
- the high cost of bringing claims
- the fact that, in the Employment Tribunal (unlike in the Courts), it is unusual for the loser to have to pay the winner’s costs
These factors mean that low value awards or settlements will usually either be cancelled out by the costs incurred, or will not justify the cost and risk involved in bringing the claim.
Note that we may be prepared to bring or defend an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal or the Court of Appeal on a no win, no fee basis, even if the claim is not a high value one.
Some clients will have breach of contract claims and the option of pursuing these in the Courts, rather than the Employment Tribunal. They may also be sued for breach of contract, including in relation to restrictive covenants. Because costs are usually recoverable from the losing party in the Courts it may be possible for us to do this sort of work on a no win no fee basis, if the amount at stake and the prospects of success justify it.
Clients who initially approach us about bringing a claim on a no win, no fee basis sometimes find they have legal expenses insurance
If you wish to bring a claim which is likely to be worth less than £75,000 (as nearly all unfair dismissal claims where the employee’s salary is less than this will be), and you do not have legal expenses insurance, you have the following options:
- bring the claim yourself - Employment Tribunals are less formal than courts and many litigants represent themselves, or are represented by a friend, contact or relative. Visit the Ministry of Justice for details of how to do this. If you are considering this, you may wish to obtain an opinion on your prospects and/or the likely value of your claim at the outset. This is something we can usually agree a fixed fee for before we undertake any work. In order to agree this fee, we will usually need to see your summary of the case and the most relevant documents
- bring the claim with occasional advice and assistance from us - if you cannot afford full representation, you may wish to bring a claim relying on occasional advice and assistance. For example, we can draft your pleading (so that you can be sure that your case is put on a sound legal footing), review witness statements, advise in relation to legal points or Tribunal rules, check your schedule of loss, etc. We can usually agree a fixed fee in advance in respect of any such work
- contact the Free Representation Unit - the Free Representation Unit may be prepared to take your case forward for you
- contact your Citizens Advice Bureau - Citizens Advice Bureau have trained staff who may be able to provide you with assistance in relation to your claim