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What to Do Before Starting a Claim for Unfair Dismissal

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Kate has over eight years of experience as an employment and personal injury legal executive. She runs LawCat, a legal explanations website.

If you have been dismissed and are considering bringing a claim against your former employer then you might be feeling lost, unsure of where to begin, or even unsure if you want to bring a claim at all. This article discusses four of the key questions you should ask yourself before bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal. Its goal is to help you decide if bringing a claim is right for you.

What Is Unfair Dismissal?

If you have ever been dismissed from your employment, you will already know that it is a stressful and upsetting experience. An experience that can be even more upsetting if you believe that there was no justifiable reason for your dismissal. Unfair dismissal is when your employer has dismissed you but does not have a justifiable reason for their actions. It is not legal and you can seek compensation at the Tribunal if you can prove what your employer did was unlawful.

Examples of Fair and Unfair Reasons for Dismissal

These are not exhaustive lists.

Your dismissal can also be unfair if the correct procedure to dismiss you is not followed by your employer, even if the reason for your dismissal is justified. You should check your company handbook to find your empl

Fair Reasons For DismissalUnfair Reasons For Dismissal

Poor conduct on your part

You requested a change to your working hours

A redundancy situation in the workplace

You joined a trade union

A breach of company policy on your part

You have applied for, or are taking, maternity, paternity or adoption leave

When to Bring a Claim

Bringing an Employment Tribunal Claim should not be your first action.

If you are still employed, you should try to resolve any problems with your employer using their complaints and grievance procedure. If you are unsure what your employer's grievance procedure is then you should check your company handbook or speak to your human resources department or your trade union representative. They will be able to provide you with a detailed explanation of the steps involved in raising a grievance.

If you have already been dismissed, you can still bring a grievance with your previous employer. This could potentially result in you getting your job back.

If you have already been dismissed and have exhausted the grievance procedure option, then you may be considering a claim with the employment tribunal. Before you do, however, you should ask yourself the following questions.


Is There a Way to Resolve This Without Going to Tribunal?

Being dismissed for an unjustified reason can make you feel very angry. While it might be enjoyable to envision standing in Court while a Judge berates your previous employer for the terrible way they have treated you, the reality can be very different.

Going to the Tribunal can be stressful and expensive. Resolving the issue in a way that does not involve the Tribunal is much cheaper and far less demanding. As you will have already tried discussing the matter with your previous employer yourself, through the grievance procedure, and will have found this to be unsuccessful, you may be wondering what other options are available.

The best way to resolve the situation without going to tribunal is through mediation. Mediation gives you the opportunity to discuss the matter in a controlled environment and, hopefully, reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to both you and your previous employer. ACAS, also known as the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service provides a free and impartial service to employers and employees. They provide information, advice and mediation on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.

Recently, it has become mandatory to attempt to settle matters before bringing a claim.

If you are considering a claim you must contact ACAS in order to engage in early conciliation. You cannot proceed if you cannot prove that you have attempted a resolution before bringing court action. This is enforced by the Employment Tribunal requesting a reference number from you that will be given to you at the end of ACAS’ early conciliation process.

Is it Financially Worth it to Bring a Claim?

Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal will not result in a huge payout.

Compensation for this type of claim is restricted to a fixed fee, which calculated by your length of service and your age. You can also request to be reimbursed for some expenses such as the cost of finding a new job. You may also receive some of your lost wages, but this amount is usually limited to three months worth of net pay.

You will sometimes have to pay Tribunal fees, and this can be up to £1,200.00. Although you may be eligible for fee remission if you get certain benefits or you’re on a low income and have savings less than £3,000.00.

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Fee Remission Benefits


Income Based Jobseekers Allowance

Income Related Employment Support Allowance

Income Support

Universal Credit with Gross Annual Earnings of Less than £6,000


Are You Prepared to Answer Questions in Front of the Tribunal?

Bringing a claim is a stressful thing to go through, and while not all claims that are started reach the Tribunal, there is always a very real possibility that you will find yourself at a Hearing in the witness stand.

Being questioned by your previous employer’s barrister will be an uncomfortable experience. The barrister will try to make your boss look reasonable in their actions by making you look unreasonable and difficult. It is a challenging experience and one that requires a lot of emotional and mental preparation.

You must be ready to deal with that. If you decide to use a solicitor to bring your claim then they will discuss this with you prior to your Hearing and give you an idea of what to expect and how to keep your cool.

Using a Solicitor

Do You Want to Bring a Claim Yourself or Go Through a Solicitor?

If you go through a solicitor then they will run your claim for you. They will advise you on how they think you should proceed, they will draft all the documents needed and engage with your previous employer and the Tribunal on your behalf. This can take a lot of the strain away from you and put you in the hands of someone who is qualified and has experience in these matters.

If you are paying privately for your solicitor you will pay them an hourly rate, this will be payable win or lose and you will often pay upfront. If you are paying through a No-Win-No-Fee-Agreement, also known as a CFA, then you will not have to pay any legal fees if you lose your claim. However, if you are successful you will stand to lose a percentage of your compensation, usually 30%. You will also be liable, win or lose, for the tribunal fees.

If you decide to bring the claim yourself then you will have to do all of the work yourself. You will communicate with the Tribunal and your previous employer yourself, you will draft all the documents yourself and you will present your case yourself at the Hearing. However, if you are successful you will keep all of your compensation.

There are pros and cons to using a solicitor and the decision to use should be considered carefully.


You should consider the above questions carefully before you bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Bringing a claim can be laborious at times and some find the process to be stressful.

Deciding whether or not to go to Tribunal can be a difficult decision, but if you give it thought beforehand and consider the potential outcomes carefully, as well as the work and emotional effect involved you will be better suited to make the right decision for you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Katie

Got Questions? Leave a comment!

Katie (author) from Norfolk, UK on January 16, 2017:

Thank you, Jerrycarman. It's very kind of you to say.

jerry carman from 1724 st. james place elkhart,indiana on January 16, 2017:

You do a good job with pictures and you have a conclusion. Not very many people have conclusions. Keep up the good work and good luck/

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