HR Business Partner
Going to tribunal used to be an unknown quantity. Not any more.
From time to time every business will be in need of sound, honest employment law advice. It’s our intention to help keep you on the right side of the law, for example, by making sure you have up to date contracts of employment and appropriate policies and procedures for managing your staff.
See our HR Services for more information about this, and to find out how we can help you deal with tricky employee disputes, dismissals and redundancies, and the TUPE transfer of staff in or out of your business.
However, whether you are a current client or new to our service, there may come a time when a disgruntled employee threatens to sue you, or you get a call from the ACAS early conciliation team to notify you that an Employment Tribunal claim is in the pipelines.
If you find yourself in a spot, Kate, our legal expert, can help you.
Whilst all our HR Business Partners are qualified and experienced HR Professionals, we are pleased to be able to offer you access to additional legal expertise. Defending a claim can be time consuming, stressful and expensive. We can do most of the hard work for you and reduce the stress and costs to you.
It is free for an individual to bring a claim in to the Employment Tribunals.
Employment Tribunal fees were deemed to be a barrier to access to justice and scrapped in 2017.
The number of individuals bringing Employment Tribunal claims has increased as a result.
In the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, 88,476 claims were brought in the Employment Tribunals. When the fees were repealed, there was a 90% uplift on claims.
An individual doesn’t need to pay for representation in the Employment Tribunals.
They may be able to access legal advice through a legal expenses insurance policy, trade union membership or a ‘no win no fee’ type agreement.
They may also be able to access free advice through an organisation such as Citizens Advice Bureau, a university law school advice clinic or other pro bono service. Or, they may choose to represent themselves.
An individual has at least four months to bring their claim.
Most claims must be brought in the Employment Tribunals within three months of the act complained of (or within three months of the last act in a series of continuing acts). This usually means three months of dismissal.
However, the individual must first go to ACAS for early conciliation. Additional time is added to the three month deadline for this early conciliation. This additional time is the lesser of the amount of time spent with ACAS in early conciliation or one month.
The Employment Tribunals then have discretion to allow further additional time.
An individual can sue another individual e.g. a colleague or manager.
Some claims may be brought against another individual in addition to or in place of an employer.
For example, an individual may bring a claim for discrimination against both the company that employed them and their line manager or colleague as the alleged perpetrator.
The company must then decide whether to support the line manager or colleague by helping pay his/her defence fees and his/her share of any compensation awarded.
An employer has only 28 days to respond to a claim.
If you don’t get your response in to the Employment Tribunals within the 28 day window a judgment may be entered against you without you having a further opportunity to defend yourself.
An average employer will spend over £10,000 in legal fees defending themselves against a claim.
Law firms usually charge by the hour for all work done on your behalf. The hourly rate may vary between £150 plus VAT to over £300 plus VAT depending on the seniority of the lawyer.
A British Chamber of Commerce report (2011) found that the average employer spent £8,500 plus VAT in legal fees defending themselves against a claim. It is likely that this figure will have increased, particularly for more complex claims involving discrimination or whistleblowing.
The Employment Tribunals cap the amount of legal fees recoverable by an employer at £20,000 indicating that costs may well be expected to exceed this sum.
In 2016/2017 only 0.2% of employers facing an Employment Tribunal claim were awarded an order that the unsuccessful Claimant pay a contribution towards their legal fees.
You don’t need to use a solicitor to defend yourself against a claim.
You can choose who will represent you in an Employment Tribunal. You can choose to use other experts, such as HR professionals, or you can even represent yourself if you feel confident doing so.
We can help you!
We can help you defend yourself against a claim. Kate worked as a specialist employment law solicitor for over ten years before joining us and she can help you!
We can match the knowledge and experience of a solicitor’s firm and give you peace of mind that you’re represented by experts acting in your best interests.
We will work on a fixed fee basis so that you have peace of mind as to costs – and we won’t charge you the earth!
If you think you might be facing a claim in the Employment Tribunals give us a call for a free, no obligation consultation, to find out how we can help you.
If you have sought legal help in the past, you will be familiar with the concept of hourly billing. This means that your law firm may charge you for every minute of work that they carry out on your behalf. A practice that can lead to huge bills that build up very quickly.
When you’re defending your business and your staff against a claim in the Employment Tribunals, the last thing you need to worry about is escalating costs.
That’s where Kate comes in. Whether you’re a current client or not if you find yourself served with tribunal papers, or you receive a call from the ACAS early conciliation team we can help. Kate will support you throughout the process, and minimise the impact on your business.
Kate will provide expert guidance and support at every stage of the process, on a fixed fee basis. Your case will be researched and prepared, including identifying documents, preparing bundles and helping to draft witness statements.
We want to make sure you have total peace of mind. Kate will help you to defend your business against a claim on a fixed price basis. The amount you pay us will be agreed before Kate starts work giving you complete peace of mind that you will not pay anything more.
If you think you might be facing a claim in the Employment Tribunals, Kate will offer you a free initial appraisal of up to thirty minutes.
Before you decide to work with Kate, you will receive a breakdown of the cost of that work. This quotation will include agreed fixed fees for each stage of the process of defending your claim right through until the hearing.
For an illustration of possible fees, click here.
We won’t pass your work down to a junior member of staff or someone who is not fully qualified. You can be assured that all of the work undertaken on your behalf will be carried out by Kate who is a former solicitor with over ten years specialist employment law experience.
You will meet Kate to discuss your case. She will carry out an appraisal of the claim, talk you through your options and help you to understand the process. If you decide to work with Kate she will carry out all of the work required to bring your case to conclusion.
We won’t leave you in the dark, wondering what is happening with your claim. At the start of your case, Kate will explain the stages involved and timescales for action so that you know what to expect. She will provide you with regular updates throughout your case so that you know what is happening at each stage.
We won’t leave you hanging! We don’t want you worrying. If you get in touch to talk about your case, you will get through to Kate or she will call you back ASAP.
Important “small print”:
This is an illustration only. It is based on a simple unfair dismissal claim with one witness for the Claimant, two witnesses for the employer Respondent and a one day hearing.
If you contact us for a quotation, we will offer you the best rates we can for the claim you are facing without you having to negotiate with us – but it might differ from the following illustration.
Each stage includes short letters and calls to you, the Claimant/ their representative, ACAS and the Employment Tribunal.
|ACAS CONCILIATION STAGE|
Initial appraisal (up to 30 minutes), either in person at our office or over the telephone
We can assess the situation in brief and advise you how we might be able to help you and what solutions you may want to consider at this early stage.
If you would like to proceed with us, we will provide you with a fixed fee quotation for agreement.
First full advice
A detailed review of your papers and advice on the merits of the claim against you (who is most likely to win?), the quantum (how much might the Claimant get?) and tactics (how are we going to tackle this?).
We’ll talk you through our advice and send you a summary note for your ongoing reference.
Negotiation of settlement
If we agree that early negotiation is a good tactic, we will liaise with ACAS on your behalf to get you the best deal. If we can secure an agreement for you, we’ll draft the COT3 settlement agreement too.
Total if settled before claim reaches Employment Tribunal.
|EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL STAGE|
Drafting a response
This includes obtaining your instructions, drafting the ET3 response form and any additional ‘grounds of resistance’ in support of your claim, and submitting this to the Employment Tribunal.
Please note that you only have 28 days to do this once the claim form (ET1) arrives.
Advise on schedule loss
We will review the Claimant’s schedule of loss and advise on their prospects of recovering what they’re seeking, whether it is worthwhile negotiating with them at this stage, and whether a counter-schedule of loss should be submitted.
Deal with disclosure of documents
We will liaise with you to collate all relevant documents and disclose them to the Claimant / their representative.
Review Claimant’s disclosure and provide second full advice.
We will review all documents disclosed by the Claimant and provide you with an update on merits, quantum and tactics. As before, we’ll talk you through our advice and send you a summary note for your ongoing reference.
Prepare bundle of documents
The Employment Tribunal usually orders the Respondent to prepare a joint bundle of documents for use at the hearing, even if the Claimant is represented. We’ll do this for you and send you a copy.
Draft witness statements
£400 per statement = £800
In an unfair dismissal claim the Respondent witnesses will usually be your dismissing officer and appeals officer. We’ll interview them and prepare first draft witness statements. We will then work with the witnesses to finalise their statements and exchange them with the Claimant / their representative.
Review Claimant’s statement and provide third full advice.
We will review all the Claimant’s witness statement and provide you with an update on merits, quantum and tactics. As before, we’ll talk you through our advice and send you a summary note for your ongoing reference.
We will recommend a barrister for your claim based on their expertise, seniority and fees. We will agree a fixed fee with their clerk and prepare instructions to them to represent you.
Prepare for hearing
We will meet with you and your witnesses to talk about Employment Tribunal procedure and what to expect at the hearing. We will involve the barrister in this meeting so that you can get to know them ahead of the hearing.
If we agree that we should try to negotiate settlement at any point, we’ll liaise with ACAS, the Claimant / their representative and the Employment Tribunal. We’ll secure the best deal with can for you and If we can secure an agreement for you, we’ll draft the COT3 settlement agreement too.
|EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL HEARING|
If settlement is attempted and not successful before hearing.
Hearing – us
By the time we get to the hearing, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for the day. You’ll have spoken with your barrister and won’t need us around. But, if you want a friendly face and extra support on the day, we’re happy to come with you. We may need to charge a little extra but will agree this with you in advance.
Hearing – barrister
We’ll negotiate the best fixed fee we can for you. A strong junior barrister should be able to conduct a one day unfair dismissal hearing for around £1,500 plus VAT.
We’ll debrief you on the claim including looking at what went well and what learning points there may be for your business or your managers going forwards. We can also look at whether management training might be helpful and what we can do for you going forwards.