Options to Suit You

Costs are a very important factor in pursuing legal matters.
While effective legal advice can be a very valuable investment, such costs can act as a barrier to justice.
Well-resourced parties can use the costs factor to their tactical advantage. We recognise those situations and can offer flexibility when it comes to funding your legal case.

Fee arrangements breakdown to the following four general types of retainer:-

Businesses and individuals usually have differing considerations when it comes to legal costs retainers. Below are some general points about each fee arrangement.

All fee arrangements are subject to further information and formal agreement. We even may be able to use different arrangements for different stages of a case.

Always check to see if you have alternative funding options such as legal expenses insurance (easily overlooked as an add-on to insurance policies); or, Trade Union or other professional body membership.

Hourly Rate

This is the ‘traditional’ type of legal fee and is based on time spent/time engaged.  

Time is broken down into 6-minute units. 

Our hourly rate ranges from £160 – £220 (*currently no VAT) 

This is considerably less than the official Court Guideline Hourly Rates range for our experience and location. 

Court Guideline Hourly Rates range from £229-267 p/h + VAT  for our experience and location. [London Pay Band A Grade 3 Fee Earner (SW19)]

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The actual rate offered/agreed depends on a number of factors such as: urgency, complexity, proportionality and the level of expertise required. 

Pricing examples for Unfair Dismissal Employment Tribunal claims

Below we have set out example costs for a claim, depending on the level of complexity and using a median fee estimate of £190 p/h. 

Complexity level

Our estimated fee (currently no VAT)


£3,800 – £7,600


£7,600 – £13,300


£13,300 – £30,400

We anticipate that on an unfair dismissal case we would spend:- 

  • 20 – 40 hours for a relatively straightforward case
  • 40 – 70 hours for one of medium complexity 
  • 70 – 160 hours + on one of high complexity 

Factors affecting the level of complexity include:

  • the factual and legal matrix
  • making or defending applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim
  • making or defending a costs application, strike out or deposit order application
  • complex preliminary issues such as limitation issues as to whether the claim has been brought within time
  • the number of witnesses and documents
  • if it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim (such as if you are dismissed after whistleblowing on your employer)
  • if it is a constructive unfair dismissal claim (such as if you have resigned in response to a fundamental breach of contract by your employer)
  • allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal
  • if the claim is joined with a number of other claimants

In addition to our fee, there will usually be fees payable to Counsel (barrister). Instructing a barrister for a hearing maximises the chances of success. Their fees depend on the number of hearings and the length of these. We will always endeavour to source the most cost-effective counsel for your case. Hearing fees are based on an initial Brief Fee (preparation + first day) and Refreshers (each subsequent day). Estimated Counsel fees range from £900-£12,000 (including VAT).

Work included and Key Stages

The precise work and stages involved in bringing an unfair claim vary according to the circumstances. However, we have set out the key stages involved in a typical claim:

  • taking your initial instructions, including a proof of evidence 
  • reviewing all relevant documentation and advising you on merits and likely compensation
  • entering into pre-claim conciliation where this is mandatory to explore whether a settlement can be reached
  • preparing your claim
  • reviewing and advising on response from the other party
  • exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process
  • preparing a schedule of loss
  • preparing for (and attending) a Preliminary Hearing
  • exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents
  • taking witness statements, drafting statements, and agreeing their content with witnesses
  • reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements
  • preparing for (and attending) Judicial Mediation
  • agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list (if appropriate)
  • preparation and attendance at Final Hearing, including instructions to Counsel

Services excluded

Our services (within the scope of this costs information) will not include any of the following:

    • any work outside of the scope listed above
    • procedural steps which need to be taken prior to commencing proceedings, as part of an internal disciplinary/grievance procedure
    • other types of claim, e.g. discrimination claims. We will be able to give you an idea of an estimate of fees for other types of claim on request once we have the details of your case from you
    • advice or assistance in relation to any appeal
  • enforcement of a Tribunal judgment 

Approximate/average Timescales

The time that it takes from your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends on many factors. Cases involve a lot of moving parts and matters are outside of one’s control. 

If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case could take 6 – 8 weeks. 

However, if your claim proceeds to a Final Hearing, your case could take 12 – 18 months. This is just an estimate, there are many factors outside of our control eg. how busy the particular Employment Tribunal is. 

We will be able to give you a more accurate timescale once we have more information and as your case progresses

Fixed Fees

These are increasingly attractive to parties, bringing relative certainty where most legal situations involve so many variables. 

We offer an initial Fixed Fee Consultation

For a fixed fee of £350 we will:- 

  • Consider all relevant documents;
  • Discuss your case with you over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting – (no set duration); 
  • Conduct all necessary research and follow-up; 
  • Verbally advise you on our view of your prospects of success; likely costs; options going forward. 

It may then be possible to arrange Fixed Fees for stages of the ensuing work. We can also form a reasonable view about whether we consider the case is appropriate for a No-win/No-fee agreement. 

Legal expenses insurance (“LEI”) could cover you if you are dismissed from your job or suffer some other form of detrimental treatment during your employment.

If you are an individual seeking legal representation then you should check your insurance policies (eg. home, car) to check whether you do have legal expenses insurance included. EI is usually sold as an add-on to car or house insurance, generally for a small extra premium.  Occasionally, it’s included free.

If you are a business, then you may also have cover under the relevant policies that the business has.

There is a limit to how much can be claimed under the policy – usually £25,000, £50,000 or £100,000. The cover is designed to offer protection if you are faced with a legal dispute. You should discuss with your insurer what coverage you have and obtain a copy of the relevant LEI policy.

If legal proceedings are commenced then you should have the right to choose your own solicitor. The insurer will often want you to use a solicitor from their own ‘panel’ of solicitors but you have the legal right to decline this and choose your own. The insurer will have to agree the rate to pay your solicitor – which is often the subject of negotiation. 

We can help you make a funding claim from your insurer under your LEI policy – this is not always an easy or straightforward process and there are usually strict criteria to comply with concerning the reporting of a legal claim and the merits.

“No-Win / No-Fee”

The type of No-win/No-Fee retainer we use is a Damages Based Agreement (‘DBA’). 

This is a ‘contingency fee’ where the client and solicitor share the risks of litigation.   

Instead of being paid by conventional hourly rate, the solicitor’s legal fees are only payable if the claim succeeds. The fee will be calculated as a percentage sum of the damages recovered from the losing party. 

This can offer access to justice at a known and proportionate cost. 

A DBA can apply to both contentious litigated civil proceedings (such as debt recovery) and employment tribunal proceedings. 

DBA’s set a percentage of what is ‘won’ (monetary recovery) as a fee – and so are ‘outcome-based’.  

First, we would need to assess – via a Fixed Fee Consultation – whether we consider your case is appropriate for us to enter into a DBA. Generally, we would have to consider the case as having a better than a 50% chance of success. 

While this involves looking upon the situation as objectively as possible, ultimately it is a subjective view. 

If you enter a DBA, you will only have to pay your solicitor’s costs if the matter succeeds. 

Those will be a percentage of the money/compensation recovered. 

The agreed percentage usually reflects numerous factors assessed by your solicitor which include: - the likely timeframe to resolve the matter; the lack of cash flow it entails; your prospects of success/risks of losing and receiving nothing.  

DBA’s in Civil Court cases work differently to Employment Tribunal cases. 

In Employment Tribunal cases, generally each side bears their own costs. Paying costs to the other side is very much the exception and not the rule.  Such limited circumstances include:- unreasonable conduct; misconceived bringing or conducting of proceedings; non-compliance with tribunal orders. 

Successful claimants in Civil Court cases are entitled to claim their solicitors’ standard time costs (in addition to the sums claimed). The recovery of such costs from the defendant may partially or wholly redeem the percentage payable to your solicitor under the DBA.

DBA’s are not available to Respondents/Defendants. Payment is due not only where a solicitor obtains a favourable outcome on your behalf, but only after a monetary sum or some other ‘specified financial benefit’ is recovered.

In employment tribunal proceedings it is 35% (including VAT but not counsel’s fees).

In civil proceedings it is capped at 50% (including VAT and counsel’s fees). 

Disbursements, such as court fees and experts’ fees, are not included in either of the percentage sums. That said, if your civil case is successful, disbursements will usually be recoverable from the losing party (but not any ATE insurance premium). You must pay these disbursements if your claim fails, unless covered by after the event (ATE) insurance.

It depends on your financial circumstances and the strength of your case. In a challenging economic climate, claimants may be less keen to embark on potentially expensive litigation with its inherent risks. Ultimately it is a commercial decision for you. 

DBA’s present an opportunity to access justice in meritorious cases. The aims of the solicitor and their client are very closely aligned and should only back claims with good prospects to go forward.  

The risk to solicitors is that they may receive no payment for their services as well as being liable for irrecoverable barrister’s fees in civil court cases (*not in employment tribunal cases). They are only likely to be offered to clients with a substantial value claim and strong prospects of success and recoverability.

Yes, but there are different caps for different claims:

  • 35% cap for employment tribunal cases – which is inclusive of VAT but not counsel’s fees or other disbursements.
  • 50% cap applies in civil proceedings (county court, High court) and is inclusive of VAT and counsel’s fees (where these are incurred by the solicitor as a disbursement) - but not other disbursements (eg. court fees).

In employment tribunal claims, the usual rule is that each side bears their own costs.  – meaning: generally not.  

In civil litigation cases (mainly ‘money claims’), the losing defendant will not necessarily have to pay the full amount of the contingency fee if the claim is successful. The principle of costs following the event (‘winner recovering costs from loser’) does apply, the costs payable would be subject to assessment in the conventional way – ie. how many hours were reasonably spent on the case, what is a reasonable rate for those hours, and do the costs meet the proportionality test (where costs are assessed on the standard rather than the indemnity basis) 

If the agreed contingency fee is higher than the assessed figure, the claimant will have to pay the shortfall to their lawyer out of the damages.

That means the existence of a contingency fee arrangement cannot increase the amount of the defendant’s costs liability.

It could decrease the defendant’s costs liability. The indemnity principle applies to DBAs, so that the claimant cannot recover more in costs than it is liable to pay its own lawyer. Therefore, if the agreed contingency fee is lower than the figure arrived at through a traditional costs assessment, the defendant will only have to pay the lower amount.


Say a claimant has agreed a contingency fee of 30% with their solicitor and wins £1 million damages. The claimant owes their lawyer £300,000.

  • If recoverable costs from the defendant are assessed at £200,000, then the claimant has to pay its lawyer the £100,000 shortfall out of its damages – i.e. the lawyer is paid the agreed 30% but claimant keeps £900,000 of the damages,  
  • If the assessed costs are £400,000 then the defendant only has to pay the lower contingency fee figure of £300,000 due to the indemnity principle, and there is nothing further for the claimant to pay its lawyer. The claimant keeps all the damages and the lawyer gets their original 30% fees paid. 

The fact that the indemnity principle applies to DBAs also means that if a claimant’s DBA is unenforceable because of a breach of the applicable legislation or regulations, the defendant will not be liable for costs if the claim against it is successful.

Before you read any further there is one simple consideration:  claims under £10,000.00 typically fall within the Small Claims Track of the County Court and therefore costs would not be recoverable in any event.

This is not the usual rule in the Employment Tribunal. 

In civil cases, if you issue proceedings and are unsuccessful then costs generally follow the event. So if you lose, your ‘no-fee’ only applies to your lawyers’ legal costs. This means that the Defendant would be also able to seek an award for costs against you because you lost. 

As a general rule of thumb costs awarded can be anything up to 70% of the actual fees incurred. Further, the costs are likely to be in line with your own legal team’s costs having gone through the same litigation with you.

When taking out a DBA for a civil claim, it is recommended that you have effective after the event insurance (“ATE”) in place to safeguard you against any cost awards in the event you are unsuccessful.

At the outside of your claim an ATE provider will assess the likely prospects of success and the merits of your case when considering any offer it is willing to make in respect of funding your litigation risk. The amount the ATE is willing to underwrite in respect of your case will be confirmed at the outset, together with the premium that you will have to pay for the policy in the event you are successful with your claim.

No, not usually. The ATE provider’s insurance premium will only be triggered if you win and ordinarily will be based on a percentage if not a fixed amount.

If you do not win and are required to pay costs to the Defendant the ATE provider will make a payment on your behalf up to the indemnity limit agreed.

No. An initial assessment of the merits and likely prospects of cost recovery would need to be considered, the amount or your claim, together with the means of the Defendant concerned. This will provide an early indication of whether a DBA would be suitable and work for you. It will also enable the solicitor to consider and confirm if they are prepared to invest in your litigation and take the risk of not being paid.

It is not a case of one size fits all. There are a number of variables that need to be taken into account. The case must be a viable and attractive option for everybody involved and would also have to be workable in practice.

It follows that not all cases are suitable for a DBA or a viable proposition for a solicitor or ATE provider. Each case will need to be assessed on its own merits.

No. Whilst a solicitor’s practice may be willing to fund their costs through a DBA it is solely at the firm’s discretion, down to their assessment of the risk in non-payment and whether they are prepared to take it on.

No matter what type of claim you are pursuing, the chances are that we have a funding option to suit you.