Harrowells Banner Image

Our Resolve. Your Resolution.

View all services for Employment advice

Defending unfair or wrongful dismissal claims

Wrongful dismissal claims may arise if you have not terminated someone's employment in accordance with their contract. Unfair dismissal claims focus on the reasons someone's employment has been terminated and whether these are valid under prevailing employment law.

The cost of not doing it properly

It is really important to seek specialist employment legal advice, otherwise you may:

  • Invalidate or limit the scope of your defence by not following the correct procedures and/or omitting key lines of defence
  • Fail to identify and make the most of any negotiating leverage you may have
  • Take key steps without the benefit of timely professional advice
  • Lose at the Employment Tribunal despite having a good underlying defence

As a general rule, your legal costs are not recoverable in the Employment Tribunal, which means that parties usually pay for their own legal costs. We have set out our typical charges below along with additional information about timescales. 

We offer transparent and flexible payment options, including hourly rate and fixed fee options, designed to suit your needs.   

Our typical charges for wrongful and unfair dismissal claims

It is important to understand that not all unfair or wrongful dismissal claims proceed all the way to the Employment Tribunal. In many cases, particularly with the help of experienced employment lawyers, the parties settle before incurring significant costs or time. Early advice from us will improve your chances of reaching a favourable settlement.

 What’s coveredTypical timescales*
1 Meeting & advice upon claim submitted by former employee

Review claim


Review documentation

Written advice as to prospects of & tactics for responding to the claim

1-2 weeks
2 Drafting detailed response to the claim and submitting  to the tribunal

Prepare first draft response

Seek your instructions on the content and request any necessary further information

Finalise response and submit

1-3 weeks
3 Disclosure of evidence

Gather any additional relevant evidence from you and collate for disclosure

Produce list of documents

Review documents disclosed by your former employee and obtain information from you on the content

1 – 6 weeks
4 Bundle preparation

Prepare and agree index with former employee and collate tribunal bundle

Produce multiple bundles

1 – 2 weeks
5 Review Schedule of LossReview and advise upon schedule of loss received from your former employee1 – 2 weeks
6 Witness statements

Prepare witness statement

Review statement received from your former employee

3 – 6 weeks
7 Final HearingInstruct a barrister to represent you at the final hearing1 week

* Please note that the timescales given above relate to the time which we anticipate it will take for us to undertake that particular stage of the work.  The time that it might take from submitting your initial response to reaching the final hearing will vary depending upon various factors (including how busy the tribunal is) but could be typically anything from 6 to 18 months.

Our fees

We tailor our support to your circumstances and requirements. The charges can vary in a number of ways dependent upon various factors such as:

  • The simplicity (or otherwise) of the facts in the case
  • The number of witnesses and documents in the case
  • Whether a preliminary hearing is held to review a particular point before the claim proceeds
  • Whether either party makes an application at any stage or the judge orders additional steps (such as a chronology or list of issues)
  • Whether your former employee is acting as a “litigant in person” i.e. without representation
  • How often you make contact with us
  • Whether we attend the final hearing

As a result, our charges will need to take these aspects into account. Note also that, if you have employment claims’ cover (for example, through our employment package ‘Harrowells Assist’), then you may be able to recover these costs from your insurer.

We have expressed our fees below exclusive of Valued Added Tax (VAT) as this is a more useful format for most businesses; you are reminded that the current prevailing rate of VAT is 20%.

Our fees for defending a wrongful or unfair dismissal claim (taken through stages 1 to 7) start from £5,100 plus VAT.  This assumes the most simple and straightforward unfair dismissal claim involving, amongst other things, simple facts and minimal documentary evidence, no more than one witness for either party, no preliminary hearings or applications and minimal communications with your former employee or their representative.

Typical wrongful or unfair dismissal claims can involve significant documentary evidence, several witnesses and challenges from the other party.  As a guide, our fees, on average, for a wrongful or unfair dismissal claim (taken through stages 1 to 7) are £15,000 plus VAT.  These fees are based on the following hourly rates: partner-level solicitor £315 plus VAT; solicitor £195 plus VAT; trainee solicitor £120 plus VAT.

None of the figures above take into account unfair dismissal claims which are accompanied by other more complex claims such as the following (non-exhaustive) examples:-

  • Discrimination
  • Whistleblowing
  • Equal pay

In cases involving other complex issues, we will provide a quotation for the work bespoke to your particular circumstances.

Typical third party charges (disbursements)

Our fees do not include Counsel's fees for representing you at a hearing which are estimated between £1,000 (plus VAT) per day and £4,000 (plus VAT) per day (depending on the seniority of the barrister).

Other charges which may apply in more unusual situations:

  • Travel costs
  • Postage costs (for posting larger, heavier items such as case bundles)
  • Photocopying costs (for production of copy documentation and bundles)

Our expertise

Your matter will predominantly be looked after by a qualified, regulated solicitor who focuses exclusively on employment law and the majority of the work will be undertaken by them directly. From time to time, they may delegate certain aspects of the work, under their supervision, to a trainee solicitor. Click the 'Meet the team' button on this page for more details about our employment law advisers.