Posted on 25.7.12 by Christine Thornley
One question that comes up a lot when speaking to employees with a potential claim is how are they going to fund it? For many people, the prospect of racking up costs with an employment lawyer is often enough to put them off bringing a claim altogether.
Some firms will offer contingency arrangements (“no win, no fee”) on employment matters, but due to the nature of the Employment Tribunal costs system (i.e. each side generally bears their own legal costs regardless of who wins), the lawyer’s costs will usually be paid out of any compensation award. Not only does this mean less compensation for the employee, but one would need a fairly large compensation claim in order to cover the lawyer’s fees in the first place, which can easily run into the thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds. If an employee’s claim is only worth a few thousand pounds, it won’t be worth anyone’s while to conduct the case on a contingency basis.
One possibility for funding a claim is with insurance. Most people think that when they tick the box for legal expenses covers on their home or motor insurance applications, they are only going to be covered for legal costs associated with a motoring accident or damage to their homes. Not true. What many don’t realise is that their legal expenses cover can also apply to Employment Tribunal claims. It’s worth checking the terms of your insurance policies, whether home, legal, credit card or any other insurance type, to see whether or not you have cover to fund an Employment Tribunal claim. It’s also worth bearing this in mind when your insurance comes up for renewal – a few extra pounds added onto your insurance premium could give you the benefit of thousands of pounds’ worth of legal advice and representation.
If your claim is covered by insurance, then remember that you have the right to choose the lawyer you want to act for you. Insurance companies will often try to refer you to their panel of solicitors, but if you want to take your business elsewhere the insurer has no right to dictate which solicitor you choose.