Employment Tribunal Costs

Andrew Boast
4 min read
Employment Tribunal Costs advice from employment law friend

Employment Tribunal Fees

You can now bring a claim for free to the Employment Tribunal. Just because there are no employment tribunal fees doesn't mean the whole process will be cost free.

One of the first things that people want to know before they consider taking action against their employer is how much it’s going to cost. Financial costs you need to think about are:

Employment Tribunal Costs

This is where you can either reduce your employment tribunal costs and do it yourself, or get a trained solicitor to do it for you.

  • Representing Yourself - the costs of preparing the claim (photocopying, travelling, researching, research materials, postage). Expect to pay upwards of £100 – £1,000; or
  • Hire an Employment Law Solicitor - Expect to pay anywhere between £1,000 – £1m+ depending on how far the claim proceeds. You may be lucky and be offered a settlement after one letter from your lawyer. Be aware your legal costs can eat up any tribunal award. Remember the Russian banker who won £3.2m in tribunal for sex discrimination? She had £2m of legal fees to pay and ended up bankrupt.

The average cost of employment tribunal to employer is £8500, according to the British Chamber of Commerce. How much will your employer spend? Can you afford to fight them?

Employment Tribunal Costs Orders

You may be ordered to pay the respondents costs.
This is rare, and usually only happens if you haven't followed the correct process, or haven’t cooperated throughout the process. It can also happen if you withdraw your case at the last minute. On the same note, if you win, your employer may be ordered to pay your costs too. Below are sections 74 and 76 of the The Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure 2013

Employment Tribunal costs from Employment Law Friend: When a costs order or a preparation time order may or shall be made 76.—(1) A Tribunal may make a costs order or a preparation time order, and shall consider whether to do so, where it considers that— (a) a party (or that party’s representative) has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in either the bringing of the proceedings (or part) or the way that the proceedings (or part) have been conducted; or (b) any claim or response had no reasonable prospect of success; [or 26 (c) a hearing has been postponed or adjourned on the application of a party made less than 7 days before the date on which the relevant hearing begins].(a) (2) A Tribunal may also make such an order where a party has been in breach of any order or practice direction or where a hearing has been postponed or adjourned on the application of a party. (3) Where in proceedings for unfair dismissal a final hearing is postponed or adjourned, the Tribunal shall order the respondent to pay the costs incurred as a result of the postponement or adjournment if— (a) the claimant has expressed a wish to be reinstated or re-engaged which has been communicated to the respondent not less than 7 days before the hearing; and (b) the postponement or adjournment of that hearing has been caused by the respondent’s failure, without a special reason, to adduce reasonable evidence as to the availability of the job from which the claimant was dismissed or of comparable or suitable employment. (4) A Tribunal may make a costs order of the kind described in rule 75(1)(b) where a party has paid a Tribunal fee in respect of a claim, employer’s contract claim or application and that claim, counterclaim or application is decided in whole, or in part, in favour of that party. (5) A Tribunal may make a costs order of the kind described in rule 75(1)(c) on the application of a party or the witness in question, or on its own initiative, where a witness has attended or has been ordered to attend to give oral evidence at a hearing.

‘Costs’ might include legal fees (solicitor’s fees) and reimbursement for the time that the winner and any of their unpaid helpers or advisors have spent preparing the argument for court, (£40 per hour).

Tribunal costs definition from employment law friend: COSTS ORDERS, PREPARATION TIME ORDERS AND WASTED COSTS ORDERS Definitions 74.—(1) “Costs” means fees, charges, disbursements or expenses incurred by or on behalf of the receiving party (including expenses that witnesses incur for the purpose of, or in connection with, attendance at a Tribunal hearing). In Scotland all references to costs (except when used in the expression “wasted costs”) shall be read as references to expenses.

If you'd like to try and claim your costs back from your employer, you must notify them in a warning letter, before you make an application to the tribunal for costs.

Employment Tribunal Costs Warning Letter Template from Employment Law Friend

Download Costs Warning Letter

Save money on legal advice by downloading a professional tribunal costs warning letter to complete yourself, with our handy guide.

Download Document

Avoid being made to pay the respondent’s costs:

  • Check first that your claim is strong, that the respondent truly has behaved unlawfully, and that you have enough evidence to prove it. Your trade union may be able to advise you.
  • Tell the truth, the whole truth; do not lie, or withhold any information about your claim.
  • Cooperate with the judge. If you are asked to gather evidence or disclose information, do so.
  • Attend your hearing, or the hearing could go ahead without you. The employment tribunal may judge your case and may order you to pay your respondent’s costs.
  • If you decide to withdraw your case, try to do it as early as possible. Avoid dropping the case too closely to the date of your hearing.

Other employment tribunal costs

Besides the financial employment tribunal costs, you must consider the emotional cost and the hours, days and weeks of your time that running an employment tribunal claim will take. Claimants who have been through the process are about 50/50 on whether they would have run the claim if they had known how difficult they were going to find it, emotionally and financially.

Many claimants are so stressed and distressed at the process that they develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are ways to manage stress and anxiety but having the right mindset and expectation is crucial for seeing a claim all the way to the end, whether by settlement or Tribunal. Remember that if you have to withdraw your case late, whether for personal or financial reasons, you may be ordered to pay the other sides costs.

Still not sure if going to the employment tribunal is the right option for you?
We can review your claim and recommend your best path forward.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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