The thorny question that often crops up is “what is a reasonable rate”? Rates are normally determined by reference to the Guideline Hourly rates set by the Civil Justice Council.
Read more on charging guidelines at gov.uk here.
Legal fees are quite possibly one of the most contentious areas between a solicitor and client. It needn’t be so. As a professional advisor, solicitors are entitled to charge a reasonable rate for a reasonable service. The thorny question that often crops up is “what is a reasonable rate”? Rates are normally determined by reference to the Guideline Hourly rates set by the Civil Justice Council.
At TMP our charges are open and transparent. We work with you to agree the costs. We avoid hidden surprises and we always take on board any comments you have about our charges. Before sending you and invoice we will send you our itemised cost breakdown for agreement. That way we avoid sending you a bill, which “surprises” you.
We weigh up your options of taking legal action as opposed to not taking legal action. This is often known as “cost benefit analysis”. The cases that we deal with are not always about recovering money or compensation. Often, keeping your job and avoiding a dismissal is far more valuable to the client than receiving a payment from the employer.
We provide reasonable cost estimates using our best judgement of the likely cost. In cases of litigation this is not always easy as litigation is unpredictable.
If we make a charge for a disbursement such as barrister’s fee, postage or photocopying then we do so with your prior implied or express authority and we avoid making any excessive charges.
We do not want costs to be a barrier to access to justice and we always look at ways to achieve desired results within the individual’s means.
We keep you updated about costs as the matter progresses. For example, we sent interim bills and this helps you try and control costs during the lifetime of the service.
We can put a price cap on costs so that when the costs reach a certain amount, agreement is sought from you to proceed further.
FEES IN UNFAIR AND WRONGFUL DISMISSAL CASES
We are experienced in dealing with employment cases.
All cases are different, and it is not generally possible to give accurate information about the likely total charges in an unfair or wrongful dismissal claim until we have met with you and taken full details of your case.
However, below you will find general information about the sort of fees which are involved in a typical unfair or wrongful dismissal claim.
Our hourly rate for unfair and wrongful dismissal cases range from £250 to £450 plus VAT depending upon the complexity. We offer an initial fixed fee appointment of £250 plus VAT for 1 hour to provide initial assessment of the merits. Thereafter, fees in a fairly typical unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal case are likely to be:-
Advising on the merits of the claim and preparing and lodging the claim at the Employment Tribunal – between 3 and 10 hours work.
Dealing with, and advising on, the response from the Employer – between 2 and 10 hours work.
Attending to disclosure and lists of documents – between 2 and 10 hours work, depending on the complexity of the case and the volume of documents.
Preparing and exchanging witness statements – between 2 and 15 hours.
Preparing for and attending the tribunal hearing. If we instruct a barrister to represent you then depending on the complexity the barrister’s charges are likely to be in the region of £1,500 to £3,000+vat for a 1 day hearing.
Your total fees for an unfair dismissal claim which is dealt with at a one-day final hearing in the tribunal are likely to be between £5000 to £15,000 plus VAT depending on work and complexity.
If your case is complex, or of very high value, then the total fees are likely to be higher than those set out above. A complex case may include a claim listed for 3-days or more or contains whistleblowing or discrimination allegations.
We will always provide you with a personal estimate of costs, tailored to your particular case, when you instruct us and we will provide you with an update of the costs incurred to date at any time upon request.
A tribunal claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal is likely to take between 9 and 12 months from beginning to end, although this can vary depending on the tribunal’s resource and availability.
We offer a first consultation meeting at a reduced fee or free of charge (depending on the circumstances). This enables us to understand your case, and for you to understand us. At the meeting we identify the legal issues in your case, your options to resolve, and the likely cost of instructing TMP. We follow up this meeting with a letter setting out what was discussed.
WAYS TO PAY
There are a number of ways to fund a case:
Pay as You Go – based on an hourly rate set by the solicitor
Fixed Fees – an agreed fee for a particular piece of work
Capped costs – set costs
Legal Expense Insurance – check policies such as home contents insurance
No win no fee (subject to meeting certain criteria)
Pro bono - work undertaken without charge, especially legal work for a client on low income or of special importance to the client or the wider community. More information here.
Acas – free telephone help here.
LEGAL OMBUDSMAN GUIDE
The Legal Ombudsman has produced a guide of “Ten questions to ask your lawyer about costs" here.
LEGAL EXPENSES INSURANCE
Legal expenses insurance (“LEI”) could cover you if you are dismissed or suffer detrimental treatment in your employment. You may have cover if you are a business to pursue or defend a contract claim. The cost of taking legal action can be prohibitive. LEI is usually sold as an add-on to car or house insurance, generally for a small extra premium. Occasionally it's included free.
There is always a limit to how much can be claimed under the policy – usually £25,000 or £100,000. The cover is designed to offer protection if you're faced with a legal dispute.
If legal proceedings are started then you have the right to choose to instruct your own solicitor. Often LEI’s will want you to use their panel solicitor but by law you do not have to use the insurers panel solicitor.
At TMP we can help you make a claim for funding to your LEI. This is not always an easy or straightforward process. There are strict criteria to comply with concerning the reporting of a legal claim and the merits.
You can view our complaints procedure here.