It is entirely understandable that many employees facing an employment dispute seek no win no fee employment law advice. After all, these situations are not exactly wanted or planned for and legal costs are objectively high.
The public may well perceive no win no fee in employment law in the same way as for personal injury cases but the position is radically different, for the following reasons :-
1. There is a no costs rule in the Employment tribunal – regardless of winning the case, the employee will have to pay his or her own legal costs from any settlement or damages.
2. Most employment cases are statistically worth less than £10,000.00.
3. In many employment disputes the outcome of the case is far harder to predict than say a whiplash personal injury claim
4. all of the above mean that far fewer lawyers are prepared to take an employment case on a no win no fee basis, the risk is high.
Aside from the above, no win no fee may not in reality help an employee secure more than a pyrrhic victory. Tribunal cases are time intensive, especially if they get anywhere close to a final tribunal hearing. is there really any point in pursuing a case, with all the anxiety and hassle that comes with it, if any damages are going to go to your lawyer ?
So, what’s the solution ?
Well, there is no easy solution – the best advice perhaps for both employment lawyer and potential client with a no win no fee matter is to be open and realistic. the lawyer should clearly explain all of the above o the client. the clients should accept that the best solution is likely to be an early compromise with the employer on terms which are perhaps significantly less favourable than the nest case outcome may be at Tribunal. In other words, say an unfair dismissal claim might be worth £10,000.00. Going all the way to trial and winning may mean nothing for the client. A settlement of say £3,500.00 early on in the proceedings might result in half of that settlement going to the client and half to the lawyer. This is a more sensible although not ideal solution.
This article submitted by Ben Jones, head of employment law at Darlingtons Solicitors. Ben blogs on areas including unfair dismissal law, compromise agreements and general employment law at EFRB.org.uk.