Costs to bring an Employment Tribunal claim

There is currently no cost for submitting an Employment Tribunal claim, since a landmark ruling in 2017.

Costs at the end of the Tribunal procedure

The general rule in the Employment Tribunal is that each party (the individual Claimant and the Respondent employer) pays its own costs. Occasionally, though, an Employment Tribunal will order that you have to pay your employer’s costs if you lose the claim. Similarly, if your claim succeeds, the Tribunal may order the employer to pay some of your costs.

‘Costs’ can include legal fees for advice and preparing the case, the cost of expert witness opinions and the cost of the time spent on the case by the Claimant and any unpaid advisers.

It is more likely that you will have to pay costs if you fail to comply with the Tribunal processes properly or behave in an unreasonable or uncooperative way. Taking the following into consideration will help with this:

  • Always tell the truth: misleading the Employment Tribunal can result in an order to pay costs.
  • Behave sensibly: it is important to cooperate with the Employment Tribunal and carry out any directions given.
  • Having a reasonable claim: make sure there are good grounds for and evidence to support your claim. Taking proper legal advice can help with this
  • Don’t hold anything back: be sure not to withhold information from the Employment Tribunal.

The likelihood of you being ordered to pay costs is very low if your claim is a reasonable one and your behaviour has been reasonable at all times, even if you lose, but the employer will usually ask for costs. It cannot be ruled out that an Employment Tribunal will order some costs to be paid by the Claimant, though this is unusual.

Costs warnings

The employer might send you a ‘costs warning’ during the process, saying that it will ask the Employment Tribunal to award costs against you if you carry on with the claim and lose it. The employer can still apply for costs against you, even if it hasn’t sent a costs warning beforehand, but the Employment Tribunal may be less inclined to make the costs order.

Preparation Time Order

If you win your case, you can apply for a preparation time order (once a case has been won) to claim back costs for the time taken to prepare the case if you did the preparation yourself or were helped by a volunteer. If you think you are very likely to win your case, or the employer is behaving unreasonably it is worth planning to apply for a preparation time order. You should warn an employer if you plan to do this.

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