Hannah Johnson


DATE PUBLISHED: 12 Apr 2023 LAST UPDATED: 21 Jun 2024

How can you fund a dispute with your employer?

Often when we are instructed by employees in employment disputes, legal costs are a concern. We completely understand this, particularly in cases where jobs are at risk, or there has been a dismissal. Employment disputes can be very stressful, so our lawyers will do all we can to support you. As part of this, we will try to keep legal costs as proportionate as possible.

Employment disputes can be funded in several different ways:

1. Privately paying

Each of our lawyers has a different hourly rate, depending on level of qualification and seniority. At the outset of a case, we will provide a clear estimate of costs and discuss any financial concerns or budgets with you.

Where possible we fix our costs based on our hourly rates to a set number of hours depending on the work that needs to be carried out and apply this to each stage of your case. This ensures that you know the cost upfront and can budget for each stage of the work, from providing you with an initial assessment of your case up to a final hearing.

Dependant on the circumstances, we can either represent you on the record, or we can advise you in the background while you represent yourself to keep costs more proportionate.

2. Insurance

Quite often legal expenses insurance (LEI) is included as part of another insurance policy, for example home or car insurance. It is always important to check any existing insurance policies for LEI because if this is part of your policy then this may include legal cover for employment disputes. It could also be a benefit under a bank account package.

You have the legal right to choose your own legal representative, so you do not have to accept one of your insurers panel solicitors if you are offered one.

We often work with insurers who are funding employment claims. All insurers have their own processes to set up funding and we can help you with this. Most insurers will only consider funding a case where there are good prospects of succeeding (usually over 51% chance of success) and the claim is not too high risk. The stage of proceedings where the funding is available will depend on the policy (some insurers will only consider funding at the stage of issuing a Tribunal claim).

If you do have LEI and the insurer agrees to fund your claim, there is usually an excess you need to pay under your policy, and we take over from there by agreeing legal costs directly with the insurer and sending our final bill direct to them. The prospects and risk are kept under review throughout your case as the insurer needs to be kept updated; if the prospects fall too low, they can withdraw funding.

3. Damages based agreement

There are some types of claims that we will consider under a damages based agreement (“DBA”). Not all claims are eligible for a DBA due to the high risk nature, for example a claim for discrimination only while you are still employed would not usually be eligible.

A DBA is like a ‘no win no fee’ agreement where you will not pay any legal costs if you lose (except for disbursements such as barrister’s costs) and if you win, we will take a percentage of your compensation. Before a claim is issued, this is 25% and this increases to 35% after a claim has been issued.

Before we can offer a DBA, one of our lawyers will need to carry out an assessment of your case at an agreed fixed fee. The reason for this is that the firm takes a risk under these agreements because there is a chance that our costs for time spent on your case will not be covered. Usually, a case needs to have good prospects of success and/or have a potentially high value to be considered for a DBA.

4. Trade Union

If you are a member of a Trade Union, we urge you to approach them to see if they will help you with your case. Usually, legal advice is included in your membership, depending on the agreement that is in place and the nature of the dispute. If you are a member of a Trade Union and seek legal advice from an independent solicitor, there can be a risk that they will not fund your case. This is why it is important to always explore options with your Trade Union first and check what benefits you have with your membership.

5. Representing yourself

There is no requirement for you to have a legal representative in an employment tribunal claim. You can represent yourself and there is no cost to do so.

How can Ellis Jones help?

If you have a dispute with your employer or are considering issuing a Tribunal claim or have any concerns or queries about funding your case, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Employment Lawyers on 01202 525333 or employment@ellisjones.co.uk who will be happy to discuss this further.

How can we help?

When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.

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