How Much Does an Employment Tribunal Cost? 

For employers, defending an employment tribunal claim can be worrisome, especially considering the potential financial impact. 

Navigating the complexities of tribunal proceedings involves various costs and expenses. 

This blog post aims to give employers a detailed overview of the key costs associated with employment tribunals. 

We'll examine the different categories of expenses, from legal fees to settlement awards, and offer insights into how employers can effectively manage these costs. 

The goal is to give employers a comprehensive understanding of the financial considerations, realistic cost estimates, and prudent strategies to help minimise the economic burden of tribunal claims. 

With the correct information and preparation, employers can feel empowered when facing the daunting prospect of employment tribunal proceedings.

Categories of Costs

Legal Fees

With most claims highly complex, legal representation is practically essential for employers to mount an effective defence. Solicitors and barristers skilled in employment law must be retained, with fees scaling based on factors like case intricacy, volume of evidence, and number of witnesses involved. 


If claims succeed, employers may be ordered to pay substantial compensatory damages for the claimant's losses and harms suffered. These amounts are case-dependent but often reach thousands of pounds, sometimes more.

Time and Resources

Defence preparation demands extensive investments of internal resources. Critical tasks like gathering documentation, liaising with lawyers, and managing staff absences for evidence hearings accumulate. On average, hearings last 1-3 days but can span weeks for complex cases - time syphoned away from normal operations.

Reputational Costs

Beyond direct expenses, claims can inflict collateral damage via negative publicity. With hearings typically public, high-profile cases risk harming the employer's reputation and public perception.

The Tribunal Process

Filing a Defence

Employers must act swiftly, filing a defence using form ET3 within 28 days to avoid default judgements. Missing this tight deadline can instantly spell defeat.

Case Management Orders

Extensive disclosure of relevant evidence and witness statement exchanges within prescribed timeframes are mandated. Meticulous, timely compliance is essential.

Attending Hearings

Multiple hearings may arise depending on case complexity, including preliminary, liability, remedy and appeal proceedings. Legal representation is typically prudent.

Compensation Expectations

The compensation varies depending on the type of claim. A basic and compensatory award is calculated using a statutory formula for unfair dismissal claims. The maximum basic award is limited to £16,320, and the compensatory award is capped at 52 weeks' gross pay or £89,493, whichever is lower.

Reducing or Avoiding Costs

Early settlement is often more cost-effective than defending a claim, especially for low-value claims. Employers should engage in early conciliation procedures to explore settlement options without legal proceedings.


Navigating the multifaceted costs of employment tribunals can be daunting for employers. 

While expenses vary case-by-case, understanding the potential legal fees, damages, and time investments enables prudent planning and decision-making should a claim arise. 

However, there are no shortcuts - successfully minimising tribunal costs requires experience;

this is where consulting the experts at Front Row Legal represents a wise move for employers. 

Our team leverages decades of specialisation in employment law and extensive litigation experience to strategically protect your interests. 

We bring a tried and tested understanding of curbing legal expenses and aiming for efficient case resolution. 

Whether through astute early settlement efforts or vigorously defending against unsubstantiated claims, our priority is shielding you and your business from excessive tribunal costs. 

Don't tackle employment tribunal proceedings alone - allow our seasoned professionals to put our expertise to work for you.


Can Costs be Awarded in an Employment Tribunal?

Yes, but unusual. Unreasonable conduct by a party may warrant a costs order against them.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to an Employment Tribunal in the UK?

Employees no longer pay fees to issue claims so that they can initiate proceedings cost-free. 

Employers bear their legal expenses.

Do Employment Tribunals Favour Employers?

Tribunals are impartial - they aim to make fair rulings based on the evidence per the relevant laws. No inherent bias exists.

For tailored guidance on your situation, consult the knowledgeable team at Front Row Legal. Our employment law expertise will prove invaluable.

Published September 30, 2023

How to contact us

Our specialists are ready and on hand to support you through the process. Talk to us today to find out more.

Front Row Legal
Chapel Allerton House
114 Harrogate Road
Leeds, LS7 4NY

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