Employees are a valuable part of every business. They can also be the biggest headache if things go wrong. Employment law is a minefield for the unwary employer and is fast changing. Action which may seem entirely reasonable and fair to an employer may not be in line with what is required by law so that the employer’s actions or failure to act in any given circumstance may give rise to a substantial claim by the employee. Things that appear simple such as calculating a day's pay for holiday purposes can in fact be highly complex. All of our employment solicitors have significant experience in dealing with employment issues and can take that headache away for you.
We believe that prevention is better than cure. We much prefer it if our clients call us first to check what they propose to do so that we can give them advice on how best to proceed. We will draft letters, prepare scripts for disciplinary, grievance or other meetings and even attend meetings with you where appropriate. We also advise on procedures such as restructuring, disciplinary and dismissal and generally hold your hand when necessary. Unlike some other employment advisers we won’t tell you that you can’t do what you want to do and leave it at that; we will advise you what the risks are of undertaking the action you propose and how best to minimise those risks or if possible circumvent them. Should you receive a tribunal claim or notification of an ACAS conciliation then we are able to advise you on the best way of minimising the cost of defending it and of course saving your time in having to deal with it.
We also prepare employment documentation for our clients, including contracts of employment and policies and procedures, so that the terms of the employment relationship are clearly understood on both sides leaving less room for misunderstandings. Training also forms part of the service we offer our employer clients so that managers are aware of the basic principles of employment law in areas such as disciplinary and discrimination and able to supervise employees in accordance with it.
Whilst we mainly act for employers, we do advise employees too. Most of our employee clients are senior executives and we advise them on their service agreements, restrictive covenants, share option schemes and exit arrangements including settlement agreements. We believe that acting for both employers and employees (although not in the same company!) gives us an edge as when acting for an employee we can anticipate the arguments from the employer and vice versa. Our negotiating skills have been honed through many years experience.
Employment law fees
No two employment law cases are ever the same and so the advice that follows can only ever be a guide to the sort of cost that might be involved in taking a case to a tribunal hearing. Our fee earners work on hourly rates. We do not normally work on a no-win, no-fee basis or on a contingent fee basis unless there are very special circumstances. All our Employment Lawyers are old hands. Our work is not delegated to junior members of staff. Our hourly rates are as follows:
Hamish Cameron Blackie (32 years’ experience as a litigation lawyer) - £330 plus VAT or £396
Andrea Tishler (20 years’ experience as a litigation lawyer) - £325 plus VAT or £390
Ashley Holden (31 years’ experience as a litigation lawyer) - £295 plsu VAT or £354
Christine Goodyear (35 years’ experience as a litigation lawyer) - £350 plus VAT or £420
We are all experienced advocates.
In short cases, where it is cost effective to do so, we may not instruct barristers to appear for a final hearing. We only routinely instruct barristers to advise at the outset in cases where it is anticipated that a barrister will be required because of the complexity of the case or the novelty of a point raised on the facts. Experience shows that in large cases it is cost effective to have one barrister closely involved from the outset.
Additional support will be given by trainee solicitors at an hourly rate of £120 plus VAT. The identity of the trainee will change from time to time.
In cases where you want to instruct a specialist barrister for advice and representation at trial then there will be an additional cost for that barrister. There is a huge range of costs for barristers from the very newly qualified who will charge out at less than £100 per hour plus VAT to very experienced barristers (called QC’s) who will charge at hourly rates in excess of £650 per hour plus VAT. We will advise you at the time if it is cost effective, or sensible to instruct a barrister and match your case to the most appropriate barrister.
For a hearing before the employment tribunal involving a simple case of unfair dismissal lasting no more than one day, with just one witness for the employer and one witness for the employee and a simple bundle of relevant documents of no more than 50 pages then we would anticipate a range of cost of between £3,000 and £5,000 plus VAT or £3,600 to £6,000.
Factors which will cause this figure to increase will include whether:
- your case involves a novel or complicated point of law;
- a large number of documents need to be considered;
- it is alleged that the other side is being untruthful in its account of events giving rise to the dismissal;
- the other side is unrepresented.
Large and complicated cases will cost very considerably more. A 10 day case involving either a solicitor and a barrister and volumes of papers will cost in excess of £150,000 plus VAT or £180,000.
Giving any estimate on time scales of work in the Employment Tribunal at present is very difficult. We have recent experience of one case in the Employment Tribunal where a claim presented to the Tribunal in January 2018 had not even been processed and served by the Tribunal on the respondent by November 2018, another case where proceedings presented to the Tribunal in November 2017 have been listed for trial in December 2019, and another case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal where papers presented in March 2018 are still awaiting to be “sifted”, i.e. the first stage of an appeal, in November 2018. If and when the system gets back to its performance levels of 5 years ago, then expect a simple case such as that above to take around 6-9 months to progress from the issue of proceedings to the hearing of a full trial.