SRA – Transparency of service and price in unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal cases.
At Wordley Partnership we do not undertake residential conveyancing, our property work is related to commercial transactions or commercial clients. We do undertake employment work and this SRA pricing note is specific to our employment work and in particular the pricing of unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal cases.
Clients come to us because of a recommendation from another client or they are aware / have been made aware of our firm’s experience and detailed understanding of the financial and professional service sectors in which many of our clients operate. Wordley Partnership is a firm which specialises in a wide range of litigation, including employment, particularly for senior level employees and directors as well as high profile, employment and partnership dispute resolution generally in the City. Technical knowledge is a given. We are regularly praised for our responsive, top-quality service and empathy. Clients know they are in safe hands.
The Transparency Rules
The costs information below is provided in accordance with the SRA Transparency Rules and the Price and Service Transparency guidance issued by the SRA and the Law Society.
These Rules require us to provide costs information in relation to (1) the provision of advice and representation to employees in relation to the bringing of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal and (2) the provision of advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal.
We act for both employers and employees. For individuals, it is unlikely we would bring these complaints as stand alone claims and we know that our employer clients would prefer to avoid the likely disproportionate costs of defending such actions. Our deep understanding of employment matters often enables us to help our clients resolve potentially contentious matters on acceptable terms quickly, amicably and cost-effectively. We recognise that clients on either side rarely want to end up in the courts or tribunal.
We pride ourselves in raising cost benefit before our clients do. For individual clients, we would rarely act on matters where the amounts at stake do not significantly exceed six figures. This is to ensure our fees can be justified by the likely outcome. For employer clients, we recognise that on occasion there may be more at stake, for example, the need to take a hard line against spurious claims.
We offer every client a first meeting for a fixed fee which ranges from £850– 1,000 plus VAT depending on the experience of those solicitors attending the meeting. The meeting typically lasts up to 1.5 hours and is usually attended by a Partner and / or a senior solicitor with the appropriate expertise to ensure a matter is appropriately resourced from the outset.
At our first meeting we seek a full understanding of the background to the situation, raise questions, ask clients to define their objectives, identify the relevant legal issues, work out a timetable, assess the extent of the input required from us and agree a budget. We expect to provide some legal and practical advice in the course of that meeting.
We devote a significant amount of time to understanding our clients’ objectives to enable us to focus on the issues that matter to them and devise a strategy to meet those aims.
We normally find that it is more efficient for us to review documents after our initial meeting and once we have been fully briefed. If the issues need urgent attention, clients may like us to prepare by considering papers before the meeting. Additional fees will be charged on a time-spent basis if the time spent preparing for and attending the meeting exceeds an hour and a half.
The starting point for calculating our budgets for client matters is time spent multiplied by our charge-out rates. In the current financial year (2022/2023), our hourly rates range from £240 plus VAT for our most junior associate solicitor to £450 plus VAT for our most experienced partner. Our charge-out rates are reviewed periodically and may be varied from time to time. We are happy to let a client or potential client know the rates which will apply at any time and any changes will be notified to a client in advance.
Meet the team
We recognise the importance to a client of getting to know their legal advisers before any formal instruction. For that reason, we offer a “get to know us” meeting at no cost, which typically lasts around 20 minutes. This is often utilised by both us and potential clients to understand the nature of their issue in order to assess whether we are the right firm for the client. Our intention is to ensure that a client is not charged for work that was unnecessary. If we feel that there is a better option or more appropriate firm for the client we will endeavour to provide such advice within the meet the team meeting.
Costs – Unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims
It is difficult for us to provide discrete costs indications for individual claims for the reasons we explain above and below. Most claims are settled at some point before reaching a final hearing in the Employment Tribunal.
The pricing set out below is intended to cover the following key stages and services:
• initial instructions and reviewing key documents to advise on merits and likely compensation (which will be regularly reviewed and subject to change);
• the early conciliation process;
• preparation of the claim or defence (often prepared by counsel);
• preparing for and attendance at a preliminary hearing, including reviewing the other side’s claim or defence, preparing an agenda and schedule of loss (for the employee claimant only);
• disclosure of documents, including evaluating documents for relevance and privilege;
• preparing witness statement evidence and reviewing the other side’s evidence;
• preparing a bundle of documents (usually undertaken by the employer respondent); and
• preparation for and attendance at the final hearing, including instruction of counsel.
Many factors will affect the final cost including the complexity of the case; the seniority of the lawyers necessarily engaged on the matter and the time it takes to complete. We have set out below a list of factors which may affect the following indicative guides:
• Bringing a claim for an employee client for unfair dismissal with a final hearing length of 1 to 3 days may cost in the region of £50,000 to £100,000 plus VAT excluding disbursements (such as the fees of Counsel). We would be very unlikely to bring a stand-alone claim on behalf of an employee client in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal. They may be brought as part of a combination of other claims which do not attract the statutory cap on compensatory awards of £93,878 (2022/2023) or one year’s salary, if lower. Contractual claims for wrongful dismissal are not generally heard in the Employment Tribunals but in the High Court or County Court given the limit on compensation (£25,000) for this type of claim if brought in the Employment Tribunal.
• Defending an employer client against a claim for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal in the Employment Tribunal with a final hearing length of 1 to 4 days may cost in the region of £60,000 to £120,000 plus VAT excluding disbursements (such as the fees of Counsel). Again, for reasons of proportionality, we would typically only act for a respondent employer in a case where it is likely to go all the way to a final hearing in a case involving multiple claims.
Due to the complexity of the cases we handle, it is not possible to provide an average cost, as we need to fully understand the situation and your objectives, as outlined above.
Factors that could make a case more complex and consequently increase the total cost for a client include the following:
• The factual background and requirement of understanding of the regulatory context.
• Correspondence relating to early disclosure of documents or the processing of personal data, for example, preparation of or a requirement to respond to a data subject access request or other questionnaires relating to policies and procedures in place.
• Defending claims that are brought by litigants in person.
• Making or defending a costs application.
• Where there is a foreign element to the claim and an issue of territorial jurisdiction is raised.
• If it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim.
• Complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties).
• The number of witnesses and documents and if applications for specific disclosure are required.
• If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if the employee is dismissed after blowing the whistle on his or her employer. An application seeking interim relief in a whistleblowing clam would have further cost implications.
• Allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal.
• Where there is a mediation or prolonged settlement discussions and negotiation of settlement terms, particularly where preparations for a hearing must continue at the same time to meet Tribunal timetables.
• If an order or judgment following an application or final hearing is the subject of an appeal.
• If a respondent client is funded by an insurer, we will have additional reporting obligations to the insurer.
Disbursements are costs related to a client’s matter that are payable to third parties, such as barristers. We handle the payment of disbursements on behalf of our clients to ensure a smoother process.
How long will the matter take?
The time that it takes from receiving a client’s initial instructions to the final resolution of the matter depends largely on the stage at which the case is resolved. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation or pre-action correspondence, a case is likely to take a few weeks. If a claim proceeds to a final hearing, the case may from our experience take 6 to 12 months from the Employment Tribunal issuing the claim to receipt of a final judgment. This is just an estimate and we will of course be able to give a client a more accurate timescale once we have more information and as the matter progresses.
We always strive to understand and meet our clients’ objectives. We regard the opportunity of serving our clients as a privilege and hope that clients will be pleased with our work and recommend Wordley Partnership to their contacts. Suggestions as to how we improve our service are welcomed. We take comments and concerns about our service and fees seriously. We would always prefer to try to resolve any concerns directly with our clients in the hope this will lead to a more prompt resolution of issues than reference to third parties. Wordley Partnership operate a formal complaints procedure which can be viewed here.