It is always worth getting independent legal advice if you have experienced any form of misconduct, discrimination, or other kinds of harassment or mistreatment while at work.
This advice may well lead to you taking your case to an employment tribunal.
An employment tribunal will hear your case and take arguments from both parties, in much the same way as all other kinds of court hearings. The tribunal will then make a judgement and then order the guilty party to pay any damages,often including the legal fees.
In terms of these legal fees, however, it is not always so simple. The expenses of a case can also vary depending on a variety of factors. Before we dive into these details, it’s essential to know a bit about the background of the fees for taking a case to tribunal.
The 2017 Supreme Court Ruling
A hearing was held in July 2017 by the Supreme Court to decide on the legalities regarding who was responsible for fees during a case with an employment tribunal.
The result of that hearing led to the ruling that employees would no longer be required to pay legal fees when submitting a claim to a tribunal.
While this means that for claimants, there are no longer any costs involved in submitting a case for a hearing with a tribunal, there still are various legal fees that should be taken into account.
While there may be no more direct fees related to bringing a case to a tribunal, there are still legal fees to take into account. These can depend significantly upon multiple factors, including:
- The length of time a case takes to be heard.
- Solicitor fees
In the past, it used to be standard practice for employees to represent themselves during the hearing of their own cases at a tribunal. While this is still a possibility, it is now recommended that a claimant seeks professional legal advice before doing so. This recommendation is due to the legal complexities, which have increased over time. Many claimants find it necessary, not to mention helpful, to seek out professional help before embarking on the procedures.
Which Party Pays the Legal Costs?
In recent years, tribunals tend to order each party to pay their legal fees, no matter the case’s outcome. This means that the employer pays their costs and expenses, while the employee does the same.
In the past, it used to be the case that the losing party paid the legal fees for all involved. This is no longer the rule – however, some elements of that practice do remain.
For example, if one party was deemed by the court to have behaved “vexatiously, abusively, disruptively, or otherwise unreasonably,” then the court may order them to pay both parties’ legal fees. This kind of ruling is quite rare, but can and does happen.
It’s also important to remember that a tribunal may well order this if there has been a reasonable offer for settlement made, it has gone unaccepted, and the claim has ultimately been unsuccessful. In that case, the court may order the party who rejected the reasonable offer to pay all legal fees for all involved.
Using “Without Prejudice Save As To Costs”
“Without prejudice” is a term often used in legal communications between parties. In essence (at least in employment terms) it is used whenever one party wishes a letter or other form of communication to be essentially “off the record.”
For example, if an email is prefaced with “without prejudice”, its contents cannot be used as evidence in any coming hearing.
When is it used?
“Without prejudice save as to costs” is mostly used when two parties wish to have a frank discussion about possible settlements before a hearing with a tribunal.
However, these communications and efforts to achieve a settlement can be used if a hearing cannot reach a verdict. They can show good faith earlier on from one particular party, who offered a reasonable settlement early on that was refused. This can inform the court and give them more information upon which to base a judgement.
Remember that “without prejudice” tactics are often used primarily for strategic legal reasons instead of discussing settlements. If a solicitor knows that a settlement won’t be accepted by an unreasonable opponent, for example, then it can provide more ammunition against them later on.
This kind of strategic legal thinking is just another reason why it is highly recommended that individuals or parties seek out professional legal advice and aid. These legal professionals have experience planning and dealing in these types of cases, and can be invaluable.
Need More Information?
While it is true that the fees behind taking a case to an employment tribunal are lower than they have been in the past, thanks to the 2017 ruling, this does not mean that they are non-existent.
There can be numerous legal fees to consider – primarily legal aid costs, such as solicitors and lawyers.
On some occasions, the court will order the losing party to pay everyone involved’s fees – this is becoming less and less common. Typically, each party involved will be responsible for their expenses. It is vital to include this in any plans you make when deciding whether to bring your case to the employment tribunal.
Want to know more about the intricacies of legal fees in these types of cases? Contact our employment lawyers now! Our legal specialists are available to provide personalised advice and in-depth information on precisely what legal fees you can expect to incur when taking a case to an employment tribunal.
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