Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

A case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (Solomon v University of Hertfordshire) recently analysed what a fair contribution for an employer to offer in terms of an employee’s legal costs (for advice on a settlement agreement) would be.

The facts

Ms Solomon was dismissed from her employment with the University of Hertfordshire (“the University”) after concerns were raised regarding her timekeeping, sickness absence. and the quality of her work.

Ms Solomon subsequently brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for discrimination, harassment, and victimisation, based on the protected characteristics of discrimination, harassment and victimisation – in all, Ms Solomon pursued 38 separate allegations of discrimination.

Prior to the full merits hearing taking place, the University offered Ms Solomon £50,000 as a without prejudice settlement offer – the University confirmed that Ms Solomon would need to enter into a settlement agreement and that it would cover the cost of the advice on the agreement up to maximum of £500 plus VAT. Ms Solomon was pursuing the claim herself, and she said that enquired with solicitors as to the cost of receiving legal advice; however, she did not instruct a solicitor to advise her on the settlement agreement, and she said that she did not do so because she had been told that the cost of legal advice would be significantly greater than £500 plus VAT.

Ms Solomon rejected the offer of £50,000 and the case went to the full merits hearing, whereupon she lost her claims for discrimination but succeeded with her claim for unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal awarded her £1,900 in compensation.

The University made an application to the Employment Tribunal to recoup something of its £122,000 legal bill – it argued, among other reasons, that her refusal of the offer of £50,000 was particularly unreasonable conduct meriting an award of costs.

The Employment Tribunal found in the University’s favour on its application for costs, ordering that Ms Solomon pay a contribution of £20,000 towards its legal costs. The Employment Tribunal held that, among other things, it was unreasonable for Mrs Solomon to fail to take legal advice on the offer of the settlement agreement and, further, for her to turn the offer down.

Ms Solomon submitted an application to the Employment Appeal Tribunal against the award of costs (as well as on liability).

The decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal

The Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the appeal in respect of the costs application, holding that Mrs Solomon’s conduct may have been unreasonable, but it was not so unreasonable to warrant an award of costs against her (particularly given that she was a litigant in person).

Was the legal fee contribution for advice on the merits of the settlement agreement and on the claim reasonable?

The EAT also commented on the University’s offer to pay £500 plus VAT towards her legal fees: the EAT stated that it was clear that this fee was to advise Mrs Solomon on the terms and effect of the settlement agreement and that it was “wholly unrealistic” for the University to expect that the contribution of such a sum would be sufficient to allow a solicitor “to advise on the merits of settlement”.

Our solicitors’ comments on the case

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that, among other things, Respondents must be realistic about the level of legal fees that they should pay in order to encourage a litigant-in-person to not only seek advice on the terms and effect of a settlement agreement but also on the merits of any claim – the latter issue will likely take a great deal more time and consideration, and my therefore warrant a higher cost contribution.”

Redmans’ full analysis of the case of Solomon v University of Hertfordshire & anor UKEAT/0258/18/DA can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.78 Average

143 Reviews

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Extremely efficient. Mel made a difficult situation bearable and gave good clear guidance thoughout.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Thanks Chris and Sacha I was reassured throughout the process and a happy outcome

Posted 2 weeks ago

Edward F

Good and clear employment advice

Posted 2 weeks ago

Richard O

Chris at Redmans is my go-to legal expert when it comes to employee-related matters. His depth of knowledge, experience and considered approach to problems and their solutions is highly valuable. I cannot recommend Redmans highly enough.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Rory Y

They provide me with timely and clear advice!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Steven C

Redmans handled my settlement with my employer quickly, decisively and to a standard that I was very happy with. I would in similar circumstances contract them again

Posted 3 weeks ago

Deepthi K

Transparent. Clear communication. Prompt reply’s. Saves lot of time. Very satisfied.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris and Sacha did a fantastic job and negotiated a significant better settlement agreement

Posted 3 weeks ago

Dino D

I did get a very swift and god service from Redmans

Posted 3 weeks ago

Stephanie H

Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I would highly recommend Redmans Solicitors, the team were very friendly and my case was dealt with professionally and efficiently. Thank you!

Posted 2 months ago

Shane M

Very professional, welcome advice at a crucial time. Always available and reasonable cost.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

My case was relatively straight-forward. But even so, working with Redmans was easy, quick, professional & clear. Many thanks

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The team were very helpful and answered all my questions regarding my redundancy. Initially I had a call with one of the representatives who escalated my request to a suitable employment solicitor. We arranged a call to discuss the settlement and she helped answer all my questions. We then mainly contacted through email which helped resolve the settlement quickly and convently. Thanks for all the help.

Posted 2 months ago

Djaouida T

You have good communication.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional. A highly recommended company for employment related issues.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very professional service.

Posted 2 months ago

Brittany

I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

Posted 10 months ago

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 11 months ago