Employment Tribunal Claims – Employer defence of a Claim for Unfair Dismissal in England or Wales



How much does this service cost?

In our experience, no one Employment Tribunal claim is the same as another and so our fees for defending claims of unfair dismissal will reflect the particular requirements and complexity of your matter.  The figures quoted below may vary in cases with added complexities, and therefore we cannot give you a fully reliable estimate of the cost of us helping you until we have details of the matter.  If you wish to engage our services on behalf of your business, we will provide you with an estimate of fees tailored to your business and the particular circumstances, and issue you with full terms and conditions of business so that you can make a fully informed choice as to whether to proceed.  Of course, if your matter develops any unexpected or unforeseen complication, we will always advise you of this immediately, and would fully disclose the potential consequences of that before any additional charges are incurred.

Where appropriate we may offer to work on your matter, or parts of it, on a fixed fee or capped fee basis.  You may have the benefit of legal expenses insurances or employment liability protection insurance which may cover some or all of your fees in defending a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

Please note that legal fees are not normally recoverable as a rule in the Employment Tribunal, win or lose.

All estimates and information provided below assume that the matter proceeds to a Final Hearing.  Typically, if resolution is achieved sooner, the overall cost will be less.


Our charges will be calculated primarily by reference to the time spent on the matter, although other factors may be taken into account.  These include the complexity of the matter, the importance and urgency of the matter to you; and the skill, effort, specialist knowledge and responsibility involved in dealing with it on your behalf.  The time spent will be charged in units of one-tenth of an hour.

As at 1st Jan 2023, the hourly rates utilised for solicitors in the Ellisons Employment team who may work on your matter range from £180 to £330 plus VAT.

We estimate our approximate fees, excluding VAT and disbursements, to be as follows:

  • Simple Case: £7,500 – £12,500
  • Medium Complexity Case: £12,500 – £40,000
  • High Complexity Case: £40,000 +

VAT will be charged at an additional 20%.

Simple cases are likely to be where there is a final hearing dealing with both the question of unfairness and also compensation, of 1 or 2 days in duration, and where the Claimant is likely to be the only witness for him or herself.  The facts giving rise to a claim will be relatively straightforward and will have occurred over the course of a matter of weeks or a few months at most.  There will not be much documentary evidence relied upon and the Claimant’s losses will either be low or straightforward to calculate over a finite period.

Factors that could make a case more complex such that it would fall into the medium or high complexity price ranges include the following.  These are indicative examples and there could be other complicating factors: –

  • Complicated set of facts or circumstances arising over a long period of time;
  • The number of witnesses on either side;
  • If witnesses are hard to trace, are uncooperative or unavailable;
  • If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims/responses or to provide or request further information about the claim;
  • If there are preliminary hearings listed by the Tribunal to deal with procedural matters and/or to hear applications;
  • If there are other Claimants pursuing claims arising out of the same circumstances;
  • If time is spent pursuing potential settlement which proves unsuccessful;
  • If the Claimant delays or does not comply with Tribunal orders;
  • If the Claimant does not seek legal assistance and acts in person;
  • The Claimant’s choice of representative;
  • Complex preliminary issues such as whether the Claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties) or whether the claim or parts of it are out of time;
  • The number of and complexity of documents;
  • If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim, e.g. if the Claimant alleges they have been dismissed after blowing the whistle;
  • If there are allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal;
  • If there are other claims the Claimant is bringing such as for unpaid wages or holiday pay;
  • If the dismissal is connected with a TUPE transfer and so for example there is potentially more than one Respondent;
  • If the Claimant’s alleged losses are large and/or involve loss of pension rights under a final salary pension scheme and /or bonuses, a car or share awards;
  • If the case is split so that liability issues are dealt with first followed by the amount of compensation, necessitating at least two hearings;
  • If Expert evidence may be necessary – for example a medical report;
  • If a Tribunal hearing is postponed or part-heard and a further hearing becomes necessary;
  • If there are Tribunal administrative delays or errors;
  • If translation services or an interpreter is necessary;
  • Making or defending a costs application;
  • If you delay in providing instructions or provide incomplete instructions.

Representation at preliminary hearings at the Tribunal is usually conducted by us and is included in the price guides above.  Your business will typically be represented by a barrister at a Final Hearing.  Typical charges for a barrister are set out under the disbursements heading below.  There will generally be an additional charge for us to attend a Tribunal hearing to sit behind the barrister (Counsel) representing you at a hearing, to take notes in more complicated cases for example.  Otherwise our attendance is not usually necessary, but helpful particularly on the first morning at least of a hearing to assist you and Counsel and deal with any last-minute procedural matters etc.  Charges for such attendance will typically range from £1,000 to £2,000 per day (excluding VAT).  Generally, as a guide, we would allow 1-2 days for a simple case, 2-5 days for a medium case and 5-15 days for a complex case.


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

Potential Disbursements:

  • There are not usually any significant disbursements for Employment Tribunal claims other than barrister fees if you are represented at a hearing by a barrister (Counsel), and sometimes experts’ fees – for example a report from a doctor, as well as travel expenses to hearings.
  • Counsel charge a “brief fee” which includes preparation and the first day of representation and then a “refresher fee” for each additional day of representation after that.  Brief fees typically range from between £1,500 – £2,500 (excluding VAT) for a simple claim to £10,000 to £15,000.00 (excluding VAT) for a complex case.  Typical refresher fees will range between £1,000 to £2,500 per day (excluding VAT) (depending on experience of the advocate and complexity), for attending a Tribunal Hearing.

As part of our fee we will:

  • Take your initial instructions, review the papers and advise you on merits of the claim being pursued, your defence, and likely compensation that could be awarded (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change);
  • Respond to pre-claim ACAS conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached with the Claimant;
  • Review and advise on the claim form (the ET1);
  • Draft and advise on the response (the ET3) from your business as the Respondent and file with the Tribunal;
  • Explore settlement and negotiate settlement throughout the process including liaison with ACAS and drafting/agreeing settlement terms;
  • Review of relevant documentation:
  • Consider and advise on the Claimant’s schedule of losses and preparation of a counter schedule(s) of loss;
  • Prepare for and attend a Preliminary Hearing (medium or high complexity cases only);
  • Exchange documents with the other party and agree a bundle of documents index and preparation of the bundles for all parties and the Tribunal;
  • Take witness statements, draft statements and agree their content with witnesses, and cross reference the bundle pages;
  • Review and advise on the other party’s witness statements;
  • Agree a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list;
  • Prepare action for and attend (if necessary) at Final Hearing, including providing full instructions to Counsel;
  • Liaise with you throughout.

The stages set out above are an indication. Other stages may be involved depending upon the complexity.  Typical stages not included in the pricing above are Mediation Hearings and preparation for the same; Appeals against any orders/judgments made; and a costs application made or defended at the conclusion of a Final Hearing.

You may wish to handle the claim yourself on behalf of your business and only have our advice in relation to some of the stages for example.  This can also be arranged on your needs and fees estimates can be given for this.

How long will my application 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.
– If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, the case is likely to take 4-8 weeks.
– If the claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, as a guide it is likely to take from 6 – 9 months for a simple claim and from 9 to 15 months for a medium complexity claim and up to 24 months for a high complexity claim.
The location of the Tribunal where the claim is issued and is to be heard will impact upon these typical times as there is great regional variance.  These timeframes, as with the pricing, are 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.


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