Price Transparency

Pricing Policy: Employment Tribunals

Our charges are based on the time we spend dealing with the matter. They are calculated according to hourly rates which range from £125 excluding VAT for a trainee solicitor, to £225 excluding VAT for a director and £225 – £250 excluding VAT for a consultant.

This is our pricing policy for bringing or defending claims for:

  • unfair dismissal (dismissal for an unfair reason and/or without a fair process); and/or
  • wrongful dismissal (dismissal without notice or sufficient notice)

in the Employment Tribunal only.

Each claim made or defended is different and as such, the amount of work involved can vary significantly depending on (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • the legal issues involved;
  • the number of witnesses;
  • the amount of documentation;
  • the number and length of hearings required;
  • the approach taken by your opponents and the Tribunal;
  • if it is necessary to make or defend applications to amend claims or to provide further information about an existing claim;
  • defending claims that are brought by litigants in person;
  • making or defending a costs / strike out / deposit / disclosure application (or any other application);
  • complex preliminary issues such as whether the claimant is disabled (if this is not agreed by the parties), employment status etc;
  • the number of witnesses and documents;
  • if it is an automatic unfair dismissal claim e.g. if you are dismissed after blowing the whistle on your employer;
  • allegations of discrimination which are linked to the dismissal;
  • complex compensation issues such as pension losses;
  • settlement negotiations;
  • the number of claimants; and/or
  • if it is necessary to appeal, or ask for a reconsideration of, any aspect of a Tribunal’s decision.

As a result, it is difficult to have a standard pricing policy. What we have tried to do, therefore is to set out below a range of costs for a case involving only allegations of wrongful and/or unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.

 

Matter

 

Estimated fees

 

Examples of cases

Simple case £8,000 – £12,000 plus VAT ·         Straightforward facts, issues and timeline

·         Limited paperwork

·         No preliminary hearings (telephone or in person)

·         Only one witness on each side (with a short witness statement)

·         A 1 day final hearing

 

Medium complexity case £12,000 – £16,000 plus VAT ·         More involved facts and issues

·         Requirement for a preliminary hearing (in person or telephone)

·         One or two witnesses on each side

·         A final hearing of between 1-3 days

High complexity case £16,000 plus VAT and upwards ·         High value claims

·         Complex legal issues such as automatic unfair dismissal (for example dismissal due to TUPE, Health and safety, whistleblowing etc.)

·         Substantial amounts of paperwork or complex history of events

·         Multiple witnesses or substantial witness statements

·         One or a number of preliminary hearings (telephone or in person)

·         A final hearing of more than 3 days

 

If other legal issues are involved, whether or not they are linked, such as discrimination or wages claims or where wrongful dismissal or other contractual claims are brought in a County or High Court, we would need to discuss this with you and it will fall outside of the structure above. For High Court and County Court claims court fees also apply depending on the value of the claim.

There will be an additional charge for attending a Tribunal Hearing (whether preliminary or final hearings) of £1,000 – £1,800 excluding VAT per day depending on the seniority and experience of the person attending. Our attendance is generally in an advisory capacity at final hearings as a barrister will be instructed to represent you. Where we are attending a hearing to represent you (usually only preliminary hearings), we will of course charge for preparation time in addition to time attending Tribunal. Travel expenses and travelling time will be additional and will depend on the location of the hearing. The number of days required will depend on the number of preliminary hearings and the length of the final hearing.

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Tribunal fees or barrister’s fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process and as such, we require disbursements to be paid on account.

We would usually instruct a barrister to represent you at final hearings, and sometimes also at any preliminary hearings. We will discuss the choice of barrister and the likely costs with you. Barrister’s fees are estimated between £900 – £3,000 excluding VAT a day depending on the experience of the advocate for preparing for and attending a Tribunal hearing, but it could be more than this for a senior barrister or where it is a complex or lengthy matter.

Other disbursements may include photocopying costs, postage and courier charges, travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.

Key stages

The fees set out above cover all of the work in relation to the following key stages of a claim:

  • taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely compensation (this is likely to be revisited throughout the matter and subject to change);
  • entering into pre-claim conciliation to explore whether a settlement can be reached;
  • preparing the claim or response;
  • reviewing and advising on the claim or response from the opponent;
  • exploring settlement and negotiating settlement throughout the process;
  • preparing or considering a schedule of loss;
  • preparing for (and attending) a case management 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;
  • preparing a bundle of documents;
  • reviewing and advising on the opponent’s witness statements;
  • agreeing a list of issues, a chronology and/or cast list; and
  • preparation and attendance at final hearing, including instructions to the barrister.

The stages set out above are an indication and if some of stages above are not required, the fee will be reduced. You may wish to handle the claim yourself and only have our advice in relation to some of the stages. This can also be arranged according to your individual requirements.
How long will my matter take?

 

The time that it takes from taking your initial instructions to the final resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved. If a settlement is reached during pre-claim conciliation, your case is likely to take 4 – 6 weeks. If your claim proceeds to a final hearing, your case is likely to take between six and eighteen months, depending on its complexity and the availability of the parties and the Tribunal. This is just an estimate and we will of course be able to give you a more accurate timescale once we have more information and as the matter progresses.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the delays this has caused, Tribunals are dealing with significant backlogs and as such, the listing of cases for preliminary and final hearings and for Tribunals to deal with calls and correspondence is taking significantly longer than usual.

Employment Tribunal claims will be dealt with by Andréa Hopson, a director and solicitor with 20 years’ experience in employment law and/or Rachel Stephens, also a director and solicitor with 14 years’ experience in employment law.

If you would like to discuss this further or to instruct us to deal with a claim on your behalf, please contact either Andréa Hopson or Rachel Stephens.

Pricing Policy: Probate & Estate Administration

What is Probate?

Probate is a term that is often used to describe the process of administering someone’s estate after they die, collecting in their assets, paying their debts and taxes and distributing what is left over to their beneficiaries.

Where a person leaves a Will, the Probate Registry (the Court that deals with Wills and related matters) will usually issue a Grant of Probate to that person’s executors – i.e., a Court Order which allows the executors to liquidate assets and handle the administration. Where there is no Will, there is a similar process where the law specifies a family member to be an administrator whose job it is to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

What does Probate involve?

Whatever the size and nature of a person’s estate, whether an executor is applying for a Grant of Probate or an administrator is applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration, the basic steps are the same:

  • The assets of the deceased need to be identified, secured and valued;
  • The deceased’s liabilities need to be identified;
  • The values of both assets and liabilities need to be reported to HM Revenue & Customs;
  • In some cases, inheritance tax needs to be paid;
  • An application to the Probate Registry needs to be made and the application fee paid;
  • Once the Grant issues, the deceased’s assets need to be liquidated or transferred to the beneficiaries, but not before the liabilities have been paid; and
  • Finally, all loose ends need to be tied up and accounts prepared.

Whilst there is no time limit for administering an estate, executors and administrators are under an obligation to get on with their job and to communicate with beneficiaries.

How long does Probate take?

No two estates are the same and it can be difficult to predict with certainty what the timescale will be.

Difficulties in settling the tax position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can cause delays, as can locating lost assets or missing beneficiaries. Multiple shareholdings can be particularly tricky, especially where the deceased did not keep accurate records. Estates with foreign aspects typically take longer to administer and claims against estates can cause holdups. Sometimes delays can be foreseen – e.g., the complexity of a particular estate; at other times, delays can arise unexpectedly – e.g., the issue that arose in the Spring of 2019, where the time taken by the Probate Registry to process Probate applications increased from an average of two weeks to three months.

As a general rule of thumb, the timescales for most estates can be calculated as follows:

  • 3-6 months to obtain a Grant of Probate
  • 2-12 months to administer the estate

These are general guidelines only – it can be less or more depending on the size and complexity of the estate and the issues that crop up during the administration.

 What are our typical fees?

Unlike some solicitors and most banks, we do not charge a percentage fee based on the value of the estate. Our fees are based on the time it takes us to do the work and we apply a system of hourly rates ranging from £125 exclusive of VAT for paralegals and trainee solicitors to £225 exclusive of VAT for director-level solicitors and £225 – £250 exclusive of VAT for consultants.

You can instruct us to do as little or as much of the work as you wish.

Sometimes, we are able to offer a fixed fee for preparing a “Grant only” Probate application based on information you supply to us. This will be £1,000 exclusive of VAT for a basic Probate application, rising to £2,000 exclusive of VAT where we have to complete the more complex HMRC forms that are typically needed when inheritance tax is payable.

If you would like us to administer the estate fully – i.e., to include ascertaining all the asset and liability valuations, completing the forms and dealing with the Probate Registry and HMRC, arranging for the payment of tax, liquidating bank accounts and distributing the assets (and in some cases, managing difficult family dynamics) – our fees will typically fall into the following categories:

  • £1,500 to £2,500 exclusive of VAT for a straightforward estate with a handful of assets and beneficiaries;
  • £2,500 to £5,000 exclusive of VAT for a larger estate, typically with a greater number of assets and beneficiaries;
  • £5,000 to £7,500 exclusive of VAT for a complex estate with inheritance tax and valuation issues, perhaps due to the existence of several properties or a family business

The costs of administering the most complex estates can exceed this. However, we will look at each estate on its merits and will always give you an individual fee estimate at the start of the matter. If unexpected issues arise, we will inform you of how our fees will be affected as soon as we can.

Our fees do not include any conveyancing work needed to deal with properties in the estate, for dealing with income tax returns or for advising on or preparing any trust documentation that may be needed. We will discuss these with you if they become relevant.

 Other Costs associated with Probate

In addition to our fees, a typical estate administration also involves fees becoming payable to third parties. These are known as disbursements. Examples of disbursements are set out in the table below.

Disbursement Cost Cost + VAT (if any)
Probate Registry fees £155.00 £155.00
Extra copies of Grant of Probate  (updated 01.05.2020) £1.50 £1.50
S27 Trustee Act Notice Approximately £200.00 Approximately £240.00
Asset and will traces Approximately £145.00 Approximately £174.00
Telegraphic transfer fee £40.00 £48.00
HM Land Registry fees for copy of title £3.00 £3.00
Bankruptcy search fees £2.00 per beneficiary £2.00 per beneficiary
Valuation by RICS Qualified Surveyor (typically) £450.00 £540.00

We charge mileage at £0.45 per mile plus VAT for travelling to meetings outside our offices and may charge for our travelling time too. Parking expenses and train tickets will also be passed on to you.

We will charge VAT at the prevailing rate (currently 20%) on our fees and on many of the disbursements we incur on your behalf.

How to instruct us to help with Probate

Gareth Parry is an experienced solicitor and is a full member of STEP (The Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners). He is a leader in his field and is ably supported by Kathryn Alsop. Please contact Gareth or Kathryn if you would like to instruct us or if you would like more information.

Pricing Policy: Debt recovery (up to £100,000)

Letter Before Action

Upon receipt of your instructions, we immediately forward to the debtor a letter before action, requesting settlement. The letter before action can be sent by email and post.

For debts due from businesses – limited companies and partnerships a 7-day letter before action can be sent.

If the debtor is an individual, including sole traders, then the Pre-action Protocol for Debts needs be followed, and 30 days given to clear the debt.

We make it clear to the debtor that if payment is not made then court proceedings will be instigated and if such a step is necessary then, in addition to the debt, we will seek payment of interest, court fees and costs.  The letter is sent on the day of receipt of instructions.

Issue of Court Proceedings

If payment is not received in response to the letter before action then court proceedings are issued instantly on-line, so there is no delay.

In addition to the debt, on business claims, we seek interest at the rate of 8% above the Bank base rate under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002, as well as late payment compensation. If the debt is not a business debt, then we will claim interest at the rate of 8% under Section 69 of The County Courts Act 1984.  If your terms allow for a higher contractual rate, then we can claim contractual interest.  As solicitors we are also able to recover costs in addition to court fees.

The court serves the proceedings upon the debtor, who then has 14 days in which to respond. If the debtor fails to respond, then Judgment can be entered immediately by default. Judgment is entered instantaneously on-line after the expiry of the 14 days from service.

If the debtor files an Admission to the debt, then Judgment will be entered either after acceptance of the repayment proposals or determination by the court.

Upon the issue of proceedings, it is necessary for us to sign a statement of truth on your behalf confirming that the debt is due and there is no valid dispute. We will take your instructions to recover a debt as specific authority for us to sign the statement of truth on your behalf. You can be held in contempt of court and suffer sanctions for any statements that are not true.

Enforcement by way of Bailiff/High Court Enforcement Officer

Upon receipt of the sealed Judgment from the Court, the usual way to enforce payment is by instruction of the Bailiff or Enforcement Officer who will be able to seize the debtor’s goods if Judgment is not paid. For claims under £600 the County Court Bailiff has to be used. For claims over £600 we transfer all claims to the High Court and instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer, who is more effective than the Bailiff, to recover the debt.

Defended Actions

The debtor can file an Acknowledgment of Service to the court proceedings, indicating an intention to defend the matter. In such cases, the debtor will have a further 14 days to file a Defence.

Upon the filing of a Defence, a disputed claim will be allocated either to the Small Claims Track, Fast Track or Multi Track, depending on the size of the debt, and will be dealt with as a defended action. For further information please see pages 12 -15 in this brochure.

Instructing us to Recover a Debt

In straightforward undefended debt claims, you do not need to send us all your paperwork at the outset. Copies of outstanding invoice(s)/statement of account should suffice.  The only details we require from you are the debtor’s name, address, email, the amount due, the period of invoices and a brief description of the basis of your claim, i.e. goods supplied.

The easiest and quickest way to send instructions is by way of e-mail. New instructions can be e-mailed to tim@hopsonsolicitors.co.uk.

We will also keep you informed, by way of email, as to the progress of your cases. If you receive payment or wish to give us instructions, for example to place the matter on hold or confirm a payment then please advise by way of email.

Expert Advice and Service

It is our aim to provide a highly efficient service. The latest technology is an important tool in debt recovery, although we recognise the importance of face-to-face meetings. Tim Wheeler can meet with your Financial Director/Credit Manager on a regular basis to ensure that you are receiving a first-class service.

Accounting and Reporting

We would normally invoice you in advance for disbursements to be paid and account to you upon clearance as and when monies are recovered. Accounting can, however, be adapted to your needs.

You will be kept informed as your cases progress and we can also provide periodical reports.

Fees and Costs

Standard Letter before Action Charge

We make a standard charge for the receipt and consideration of your instructions and the sending of a letter before action and general advice on your claim, depending on the size of the debt. The standard charge is as follows:

Debt Amount Standard Charge
Up to £1,000 £25 + VAT
£1,000 to £2,000 £35 + VAT
£2,000 to £5,000 £50 + VAT
Above £5,000 £75 + VAT

For regular instructions (10 or more instructions per month) we can agree a reduced charge per debt.

Alternatively, we are happy to agree a monthly retainer to cover an unlimited number of letter before action instructions and to cover general debt advice given throughout the month to your Credit Manager.

Court Proceedings

If court action is necessary, then the following court fees and our charges will apply. The court fees and our charges will be recoverable from the debtor and therefore in a successful court action you will pay nothing. VAT is applicable on our charges (not on court fees) although you will be able to reclaim back the VAT provided you are VAT registered.

There are no hidden charges. If the debt is not recovered – for example the debtor disappears or becomes insolvent – then you pay the court fees applicable and our charges as set out below. You are able to assess at the outset what a case will cost you if there is not a successful recovery.

Debt Amount Court Issue Fee Bailiff/Enforcement Officer fee*
 
Up to £300 £25 £77
£300.01 to £500 £35 £77
£500.01 to £600 £60 £77
£600.01 to £1,000 £60 £66
£1,000.01 to £1,500 £70 £66
£1,500.01 to £3,000 £105 £66
£3,000.01 to £5,000 £185 £66
£5,000.01 to £10,000 £410 £66
10,000.01 to 100,000 – 4.5% of the value of the claim

 

*Enforcement Officer is instructed on all claims over £600 and an abortive fee of £90 + VAT is payable if debt is not recovered

Our Charges

As solicitors we are able to recover costs from the debtor and we also claim on your behalf compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002. In a successful action we will retain the costs and compensation recovered from the debtor to cover our charges. VAT will be applicable, although you will be able to claim back the VAT if you are VAT registered. Therefore, in a successful action you will receive IN FULL the debt and Late Payment Interest at the rate of 8% above the base rate on business debts (or 8% interest if a non-business debt or contractual rate).

Amount of Debt Compensation Claim Form On entering Judgment in default (following an admission) On enforcement by Enforcement Officer or Bailiff
£25.00 – £500 £40.00 £50.00 £22.00 (£40.00) £2.25
£500.01 – £600 £40.00 £70.00 £22.00 (£40.00) £2.25
£600.01 – £1,000 £40.00 £70.00 £22.00 (£40.00) £51.75
£1,000.01 – £5,000 £70.00 £80.00 £22.00 (£40.00) £51.75
£5,000.01 – £10,000 £70.00 £100.00 £30.00 (£55.00) £51.75
£10,000.01 – over £100.00 £100.00 £30.00 (£55.00) £51.75

 

In an unsuccessful action, our charges will be limited to the sum that would have been recoverable from the debtor as per the table above, depending on the stage reached. VAT will be payable upon this fee, although will be recoverable if you are VAT registered.

*It may be possible to claim greater compensation if there are for example several months of invoices outstanding and in such cases our charges will include the total sum recovered in a successful claim, although in an unsuccessful claim our charges are limited as above.

Timescales

A limited company or partnership debtor has 7 days from the Letter Before Action to pay whereas an individual debtor has 30 days to pay.  If Court proceedings are then necessary, then provided the claim is not defended, Default Judgment can usually be obtained in approximately 3 weeks from the issue of the proceedings.  Upon Judgment, enforcement steps can then be taken.

Tim Wheeler is a Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (MCICM) with over 35 years’ experience in litigation. He is ably assisted by Clare Fisher, an affiliate member of the MCICM. She has 15 years’ experience working in debt recovery.

If you would like to discuss this further or to instruct us to deal with a claim on your behalf, please contact Tim Wheeler, tim@hopsonsolicitors.co.uk.

Updated 28.04.21

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