Monday - Friday8:30am - 5:30pm
WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY

We are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, including those with sight, audio and motor impairment restrictions.  It is built in a flexible manner and scales to ensure readability on whatever device or browser it is viewed upon.  Browser support is progressive, meaning more capable browsers may get improved aesthetics or functionality, yet content is still accessible on older browsers.  Users browsing on a desktop computer with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari or Opera will find that they can scale/zoom the entire page, including images, by holding down Ctrl and toggling the +/- keys.  Mac users need to use the Apple Cmd key in conjunction with +/-.  Users still using older browsers versions will find that they can resize the text only using the same key combinations.  Scale/zoom options can also be accessed via each browser’s context menu.  Users browsing on mobile and tablet devices can scale and zoom the content using opposed digits dragged across the screen in the conventional manner.

We have deployed a written style that is straightforward and understandable throughout the site.  Where possible, all hyperlinks use descriptive and meaningful text as a call to action.  Short-hand language, such as click here has been avoided.  Additionally, meaningful alt attributes and/or titles have also been added to all images where appropriate.  We have also maintained a standard layout and navigation structure throughout the site.  Screen reader users can skip the main navigation and return to the head of the page using the links supplied.  This site has been developed using headings, paragraphs, lists and other HTML (HyperText Markup Language) to create a logical and semantic document structure.  Alternatives to scripts or other controls which rely on client device capability have been provided.

Occasionally, errors do slip into the HTML mark-up, either via human error or input mistakenly into the content management system.  If you find a page which does not validate, or has display errors, please let us know which page the error is on and we will endeavour to fix it as soon as possible.

VAT REGISTRATION

Stewart Law Solicitors is VAT registered (VAT registration number 843 2631 39).

REGULATION

Stewart Law Solicitors is an English law firm whose service is provided by solicitors of England and Wales and the firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  You can download the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Handbook at www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/welcome.page.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

If you are a client, and we have made a contract with you by electronic means, you may be entitled to use an EU online dispute resolution service, to assist with any contractual dispute which you may have with us.  This service can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/odr.  Our e-mail address is enquiries@stewartlaw.co.uk.

We are committed to providing all of our clients with a high quality service.  We understand, however, that sometimes you may feel that we have not got things quite right and you may wish to raise a complaint.  You can find full details of how to make a complaint in our complaints handling policy.

 

FEES AND PRICE TRANSPARENCY

 

We are employment law specialists.  We do not advise on any other type of work.  We aim to provide you with a specialist service at a reasonable and transparent price.  The cost of the work that we do for you falls to be considered in context, including as against what you stand to receive via negotiation, or as a result of an Employment Tribunal award, the desire for you to defend a point of principle, have a fair hearing of your case or seek to clear your name.  We do not pay referral fees or charge for hidden extras.  We offer an initial half hour free consultation.  We provide each client with fee information tailored to their particular file.  Where we can reasonably offer fixed fee arrangements up front, we do, such as for contract reviews and staff handbook work, which we tailor carefully to each particular case.  Where we think we can reasonably offer capped fee arrangements up front, we do.  We provide relevant fee estimates and update those as we go along.  We may also offer to work under a damages based arrangement (commonly referred to as a no win no fee type of arrangement), depending upon the specific facts of a case.

 

On this website, our aim is to provide you with as much meaningful generic information up front as we can, but by way of examples only.  We provide more accurate estimates to clients directly, tailored to their particular matters.

 

If you would like us to provide you with specific information around anything, please feel free to call us on 01245 460 200 or send us an e-mail to enquiries@stewartlaw.co.uk.

 

Our fees are based primarily on the time we spend doing work for you, based on our standard hourly charge out rates.  Our current ones fall within the following bandwidths:-

 

Grade A fee earners:                £275 to £325 plus VAT

(Julie Stewart and other solicitors with over eight years of employment law experience)

Grade B fee earners:                £230 to £265 plus VAT

(Solicitors and Legal Executives with over four and up to eight years of employment law experience)

Grade C fee earners:                £180 to £225 plus VAT

(Other Solicitors or Legal Executives)

Grade D fee earners:                £150 to £175 plus VAT

(Trainee Solicitors and Senior Paralegals)

Grade E fee earners:                £120 to £135 plus VAT

(Paralegals)

 

Our Paralegals and Senior Paralegals typically all have law degrees from good universities, prior employment law knowledge and/or experience, and some have also completed the Law Society’s Legal Practice Course and are ready to become trainee solicitors, before qualifying as actual solicitors.

Julie Stewart, who qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and has been practising employment law ever since, is responsible for supervising all of the firm’s employment law work and, of course, undertaking much of it directly herself.

We review and, where applicable, increase our standard hourly rates annually on or around 1 May of each year.

We can advise you on how to make best use of our time to minimise costs and get the best results

 

Sitting outside of, and in addition to, our fees for our fee earner time on a file are the third party expenses (which we call “disbursements”) incurred on a file.  Save as may otherwise explicitly be agreed with a client, these will always be payable on top of our fees for the time we spend working on your file for you.  We add them onto your invoices without including any mark up.  The most obvious disbursements that our clients may incur are as follows:

 

Money laundering search fees:     A £4 plus VAT Veriphy search fee.

 

Photocopying fees:                      10 pence per page for black and white copies and 15 pence per page for colour copies.  For advisory work, this will typically cost no more than £50 plus VAT.  For Employment Tribunal claim work, this can cost around £1,000 to £2,500 plus VAT.

 

Signed for delivery fees:              Typically of around £25 to £50 plus VAT per delivery but up to around £150 plus VAT.

 

Courier fees:                                Typically of around £75 to £150 plus VAT per courier delivery.

 

Medical fees:                               We may ask you to obtain medical reports and copies of your medical records as we go along.  Where we do that, we invariably suggest that you request, obtain and pay for those directly yourself, instead of through us, to avoid the need for us to add VAT at the rate of 20% onto the fees you incur.  If you pay for them directly yourself, they will not normally be VATable.

 

Barristers’ (counsel) fees:            These can be incurred for advice on a particular issue and/or representing you at Tribunal or at court, if we are not undertaking that work for you directly ourselves.  For advisory work, barristers will sometimes charge based on fixed brief fees or for work undertaken at their specified hourly rate, essentially in the same way as we do.  Representation at a hearing involves an initial fixed “brief” fee (for preparatory work and the first day of the hearing) and fixed daily “refresher” fees for each and every subsequent day of the hearing.  Work for time spent drafting legal submissions and working on witness statements may sit within a fixed brief fee or it may be charged for on top, at a barrister’s hourly rate or as a separate fixed fee arrangement.  All barristers’ fees vary depending on the seniority, experience and specialism of the barrister and the set of chambers that they work at, as well as the amount of time that a given piece of work requires, depending upon its volume, its complexity, its urgency and importance and the barrister’s availability, particularly if in close proximity to a specific hearing date.  The barristers we typically use tend to have hourly charge out rates of between £175 and £225 plus VAT.  Their brief fees for a two hour preliminary tend to range between £500 and £1,750 plus VAT.  Their brief fees for a one day hearing tend to range between £750 plus VAT and £2,500 plus VAT.  Their brief fees for a five to ten day hearing tend to vary between £5,000 and £7,500 plus VAT.  Their daily refresher fees for day two and each and every subsequent day of a multiple day hearing tend to come in at around £1,250 to £1,750 plus VAT.  We use only very senior barristers known as “Queen’s counsel” (or QCs or silks for short) very infrequently as they tend to have much higher charge out rates.  If and when we do, we will always discuss that very carefully in advance with our clients.  In general, we will always agree the instruction of a barrister and cost implications with you in advance of giving them work to do on your file.  Very occasionally, barristers will seek the travel costs of them attending a hearing for you.  Typically, we insist upon all travel, hotel and subsistence costs falling within their fixed brief and daily refresher fees.  Barristers are not required to accept work until an appropriate fee has been agreed.  They are entitled to demand payment of their fees in advance of them undertaking some or all of their work.  They will routinely do that, with respect to their agreed brief fee, for a multi-day hearing.  If so, it will become payable in advance, in tranches, a set number of days in advance of day 1 of the hearing.  For shorter hearings and routine work carried out outside of hearings, they will typically only invoice for that work in arrears, once it has been undertaken and delivered in full.

 

Accountant/auditor/actuary fees: These can be incurred for advice on a particular specialist tax, accounting, actuarial or pension valuation issue, particularly where share valuations, defined benefit pension schemes, pension transfer issues and HMRC investigations are concerned.  All accountant fees vary depending on the seniority, experience and specialism of the accountant and the firm that they work at.  The accountants we typically use tend to have hourly charge out rates of between £225 and £320 plus VAT.  To read into a file and give initial share valuation advice, they tend to quote for around three hours of work at a cost of up to around £960 plus VAT.  Detailed accountancy advice and valuation work tends to cost up to around £5,000 plus VAT.

 

Court fees:                                   These are payable for lodging a claim or counter-claim and having a trial in the civil courts.  A current list of these is accessible at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fees-in-the-civil-and-family-courts-main-fees-ex50.

 

Employment Tribunal fees:          These were abolished in 2017, so there won’t be any additional costs for you in this area.

 

Travel expenses:                          We charge for our fee earners’ expenses in traveling to and from meetings, conferences with counsel, hearings, mediations, training days and anywhere else of relevance to your file.  Typically, these charges are of around £50 to £100 plus VAT per day.

 

Hotel and subsistence expenses:  We may incur these when representing you at or otherwise attending an Employment Tribunal hearing or meetings or delivering training for you at a separate external location.  The amount of these will depend on the location and the number of days involved but may be of up to £500 plus VAT (based on a two to three day case).

 

We are obliged to charge VAT on our fees at the current rate of 20% for all clients using our services within the UK and any European Union country.  Where we provide services to clients outside the European Union, we do not usually have to charge VAT but would let you know the correct position for you, based on your particular circumstances.  The VAT we receive is payable to the government.

 

Unfair and wrongful dismissal claims are the most common of a number of different claims that can be brought in the Employment Tribunal.  They provide a good basic model for the stages of litigation and our prices.

 

Wrongful dismissal claims are essentially brought to secure notice pay.  These claims can be very simple or pretty complex, depending upon the facts.

 

Unfair dismissal claims are brought when someone feels that they have been unfairly dismissed (due to an unfair reason and/or unfair process).  These can be relatively straightforward or incredibly complex, particularly if other claims are involved as well, such as for unlawful discrimination, whistleblowing and the raising of health and safety concerns.

 

The cost of a claim will depend on many variables, including if and when it settles.  By far the majority of cases settle prior to an Employment Tribunal hearing and often before a claim has to even be lodged.  Our negotiating skills and extensive experience and specialism make a real difference to your prospects of settling and to you getting the best possible deal.  As part of settlement terms, most employers offer to pay some or all of an individual’s legal fees as part of the negotiated terms.  You should also check to see whether you have any insurance policy which may include provision for the payment of legal fees in connection with an Employment Tribunal dispute.

 

Even if you successfully bring or defend an Employment Tribunal claim, you will not normally be able to recover your legal costs.  Different rules apply, however, for claims brought in the civil courts.  That said, costs can be awarded against a party in the Employment Tribunal where they and/or their representative have acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the bringing or conducting of the proceedings or part of them or if any claim made in the proceedings by a party had no reasonable prospect of success.

 

When bringing or defending a claim, you should also consider the amount at stake as against the costs you might incur in connection with the litigation.  It may be more cost effective to consider settling claim instead of fighting it.

 

Estimated costs

 

Estimated costs for this firm’s fee earner time to take an unfair or wrongful dismissal case all the way through to a final hearing are:

 

Simple case:                          £2,000 to £7,500 plus VAT

 

Standard case:                       £7,500 to £25,000 plus VAT

 

Complex case:                      £25,000 to £50,000 plus VAT

 

Highly complex case:            £50,000 to £150,000 plus VAT

 

If a case settles or it is withdrawn or dismissed earlier on in the process, the costs are obviously likely to be less.

 

Complexity

 

Factors that could make a case more complex include:

 

  • How many parties there are. Some cases involve multiple claimants and some involve multiple respondents.

 

  • The claimant having been employed in a regulated sector.

 

  • Making or defending applications, to amend claims, or to provide further information (sometimes called further and better particulars) about an existing claim.

 

  • Defending claims that are brought by litigants in person, who are acting for themselves, without professional representation.

 

  • Making or defending a costs application.

 

  • Complex preliminary issues, such as around whether the claim has been brought in time, whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed upon by the parties), whether the claim is an employee, a worker or a limb b worker or whether the case is sufficiently strong or should be struck out or a deposit order made as a pre-condition of it being allowed to continue.

 

  • Multiple preliminary hearings.

 

  • Mental ill health and capacity issues.

 

  • The need for multiple and detailed impact statements.

 

  • The need for a highly detailed List of Issues and/or a Scott schedule (setting out the claims in an unusually high amount of detail).

 

  • The number of witnesses being called by either side.

 

  • The need for expert evidence and witnesses, such as on medical issues.

 

  • The volume of documents that is relevant to the claim.

 

  • If it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim, such as if you’re claiming that you have been dismissed, having blown the whistle on your employer.

 

  • Allegations of unlawful discrimination, linked to the dismissal.

 

  • Allegations of the raising of health and safety concerns, linked to the dismissal.

 

  • Media interest.

 

  • Risk of reputational damage.

 

  • Consideration of unusual issues, such as anonymity and restricted reporting orders.

 

  • The number of days that the final Tribunal liability hearing is to last for.

 

  • Whether or not the Tribunal hands down its judgment at the hearing or reserves it, to be typed up and sent out later on.

 

  • Whether the case is won or lost.

 

  • Whether remedy is dealt with at the same time as liability or at a separate hearing, to work out the level of financial award to be made.

 

  • How complex issues of loss and remedy are, such as if they involve complex defined benefit pension scheme losses, career losses and loss of share options and long term incentive plan benefits.

 

  • Whether complex schedules of loss and counter-schedules of loss are required.

 

  • Whether a detailed chronology of key events and a detailed cast list are required.

 

What services are included

 

Employment Tribunal claims usually follow a similar pattern but each case is very much unique.  The length and cost of each stage varies depending on the complexity of the claim, the willingness of the parties to engage, the volume of documents to be reviewed, discussed and exchanged and also the quality of the other side’s legal advisers, if they have them.  Most cases are settled by negotiation rather than going to Tribunal so they could end at any point without the need to pay for Tribunal representation.

 

We’ll advise in our first consultation with you and throughout your case what level of support is required for your particular case.

 

The following stages are typical in Employment Tribunal claims and of relevance to and comprised within the fee estimate bandwidths set out above:

 

  • Discussing your individual circumstances with you.

 

  • Gathering initial information and documentation.

 

  • Taking your initial instructions.

 

  • Reviewing the papers.

 

  • Advising on the strength of your case.

 

  • Advising on likely compensation.

 

  • Undertaking ACAS early conciliation to protect your ability to lodge a claim and explore whether a settlement can be reached.

 

  • Direct settlement discussions to see if settlement can be explored.

 

  • Preparing a claim or response.

 

  • Reviewing and advising on the claim or response from the other party.

 

  • Investigating settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the case.

 

  • Preparing a schedule of loss, which sets out how much the claim(s) are worth and how they are calculated.

 

  • Requesting and responding to requests for additional information and documents.

 

  • Preparing or commenting upon a List of Issues.

 

  • Wider preparation for a preliminary hearing, to include drafting and reviewing case management agendas and the directions required to bring the case to a final liability hearing.

 

  • Attending a preliminary hearing at the Employment Tribunal.

 

  • Drafting or reviewing and advising upon an impact statement.

 

  • Preparing documents for disclosure.

 

  • Reviewing the opponent’s documents.

 

  • Preparing or reviewing the bundle of documents for the final Employment Tribunal liability hearing.

 

  • Taking witness statements.

 

  • Drafting witness statements.

 

  • Agreeing the content of witnesses statements with witnesses.

 

  • Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements.

 

  • Agreeing the list of legal issues.

 

  • Agreeing a chronology (timeline).

 

  • Agreeing a cast list setting out the names of the personnel involved in the dispute to assist the Tribunal.

 

  • Preparation for the final Employment Tribunal liability hearing.

 

  • Attendance at the final Employment Tribunal liability hearing.

 

  • Advising throughout and dealing with strategy, the strength of the case and case management issues.

 

  • Dealing with all communications from the opponent or their representative throughout the proceedings.

 

  • Preparing instructions for counsel (a barrister) and conferences (meetings) with counsel.

 

What services are not included

 

There may be aspects of your claim which you can handle yourself, to assist in minimising your costs, and only obtain our advice on some areas.  We can arrange this with you, based on your individual needs, and it can prove to be an excellent way for you to save costs.

 

Some Employment Tribunal claims require specialist advice that we do not provide in-house.  If this is the case, then we will help you find an adviser with the right level of expertise and seek to agree a fee with them in advance.  This would include:

 

  • Specialist accounting advice, such as around the valuation of shares and share options.

 

  • Specialist pension advice, such as around actuarial valuations, the calculation of pension benefits and advice on pension scheme transfers.

 

  • Specialist tax advice, such as dealing with HMRC investigations.

 

  • Other costs (also known as “disbursements”), which are commented upon above.

 

If there were to be any applications for a reconsideration of a Tribunal judgment and/or an appeal against one, the costs incurred in connection with those would sit outside of the above fee information as well.

 

How long will your case take?

 

How long your case will take very much depends on whether or not the case is settled and, if so, how early and easily this happens.

 

You have three months less a day from a particular act complained of to instigate mandatory Acas early conciliation as a precursor to you bringing an Employment Tribunal claim.

 

Acas early conciliation typically lasts for six weeks.  Most people instigate it late in the day and have around one month after that within which to lodge a Tribunal claim.

 

Once a claim has been served, a Respondent to it has 28 days within which to lodge their response.

 

If settlement is reached in advance of or during ACAS early conciliation, or shortly after a claim has been lodged, it could be as little as a few days, weeks or two to three months for us to complete your work for you.

 

If your claim goes to a final hearing, it is likely to take at least three months for a simple claim and up to six months to a year and, if very complex, up to 18 months for all others from the point of your claim being lodged for your final hearing to actually take place.

 

Most wrongful dismissal claims involve half a day to one day final liability hearings.

 

Most straightforward unfair dismissal claims involve one to three day final liability hearings.

 

More complex ones, involving additional claims too, are typically listed for five to ten days.

 

The longer the hearing, the further off it is likely to be and the higher the number of preliminary hearings in between there are likely to be.  Unfair dismissal claims involving additional, complex claims will typically be listed for one preliminary hearing to take place around three to four and a half months after the claim has been lodged.

 

Final liability judgments are often reserved nowadays, which means they are issued in writing, at some point after the final hearing and typically received within one to three months of it.

 

To get to the point of any separate remedy hearing after the judgment has been delivered could take a further two to three months on top, with the remedy judgment typically being delivered on the day itself unless particularly complex calculations and representations are required, in which case it may follow on in writing afterwards.

 

These time estimates can be impacted by a wide range of factors, including how busy the particular Tribunal dealing with your particular case is (depending upon where in the country you are based) and how straightforward or complex your particular claim is, in terms of its ability to progress through the Tribunal system.  Delays can occur within specific Employment Tribunal locations and with specific, more complex claims.  We will be able to give you more accurate timescales and information tailored to you, once we have information about your particular case and as the matter progresses.

 

Conditional fee arrangements arise where a client is liable to pay a fee to their law firm if they win (or settle) their case, by reference to the costs they have incurred with their law firm.  We don’t typically use conditional fee arrangements but such an arrangement may be agreed, depending on your case.

 

Damaged based arrangements are also based on a claim succeeding (or settling) but focus on the amount they are awarded.

 

We operate under these very occasionally.

 

Where we do, you are responsible for paying the disbursements (expenses) that we incur on your behalf and of paying them as we go along, regardless of whether you win or you lose your claim.  We will provide an estimate of these to you, together with the anticipated times at which they will become payable.

 

At the crux of any such arrangement, if you win or settle your claim, you will pay us a success fee 35% of any money received/awarded (inclusive of any VAT at the rate of 20%).

 

You will have to pay all of our fees to us, on a standard time spent basis, within two weeks of delivery of our invoice to you, if you terminate your arrangement with us early, behave unreasonably in the conduct of your claim or in unreasonably refusing an offer of settlement, breach your contract with us or our assessment of the merits/prospects of success of your claim changes.