Frequently asked questions about your employment law case
If I have insurance, can my insurer choose my lawyer for me?
Your insurer cannot dictate to you which firm of solicitors to use once litigation has commenced. Insurance companies who attempted to practice this policy were found to have acted unlawfully by the European Court of Justice. Therefore, if you are ready to commence litigation, you are free to choose your own solicitor.
Technically, an insurance company can tell you which firm of solicitors to use before litigation has commenced if it provides legal expenses cover at the negotiation stage; however, if your insurance company does not provide you with legal expenses cover during a period of negotiations with your employer (which most policies do not cover), then it has no right to tell you which firm of solicitors to use as you are not covered for this period and it is not paying for your legal costs. You are therefore free to choose your own solicitor to conduct your negotiations and still retain the right to use your legal expenses insurance should you need it.
An insurance company may request that its own solicitors undertake a review of the prospects of success from time to time once litigation has commenced, but it cannot compel you to use its own solicitors.
If you have legal expenses insurance and need to commence litigation, you may wish to accept the solicitor the insurance company tries to put you in touch with; alternatively, you may wish to look a little wider and do your own research into which firm of solicitors will act in your best interests and has good ratings and feedback from their clients.
I’ve got Legal Expenses Insurance, what should I do?
Monaco Solicitors is happy to act on the basis that your legal fees will be covered by a legal expenses insurance policy. Usually, the policy will cover the fees that you are likely to incur in fighting your case in the Employment Tribunal.
Some Important Information about Legal Expenses Insurance:
If you have legal expenses insurance on a pre-existing insurance policy (known as “Before the Event Insurance, or BTE Insurance), then this places you at an advantage. If your case is assessed as having good prospects of success in succeeding at an Employment Tribunal, then the insurance company may well fund litigation in the Employment Tribunal, if it is necessary. This means that you can act boldly in negotiations with your employer as if you fail to reach an agreement and have good prospects of success, you can take legal action without major cost to you.
Few, if any, BTE legal expenses insurance policies cover legal fees incurred before litigation commences. This means that if you are looking to negotiate an exit package with your employer, or you have left employment already, but wish to negotiate rather than proceed with formal litigation, the chances are that your legal expenses insurance policy will not cover legal representation at this stage. Clearly this creates a period of time, usually when it is in the interests of both sides to come to an agreement, when someone who has the benefit of legal expenses insurances is nevertheless not able to activate the policy because the terms of the policy dictate that litigation has not commenced. This leaves policy holders without cover at the time they often require it the most.
What if I am a member of a Trades Union?
If you are a member of a trade union then, depending upon the benefits of your membership, you may well have access to free legal representation.
If you have already been in dispute with your employer, be it via a disciplinary or grievance procedures, then you may have already contacted your trade union and sought advice from a union representative. If you have not done this and require support then you should consider contacting your union to obtain support.
If you wish to commence litigation against your employer and are a member of a trade union then you should contact your union immediately and ask how to apply for legal support for an Employment Tribunal. You will have to fill in some forms and provide some documents and a solicitor may call you to take some further information. Your case will then be assessed for prospects of success and you will be informed if your trade union has granted legal support in your case.
Your trade union may assess your case as having insufficient prospects of success and if it does then it will deny you funding. In which case, we may well be able to assist you in achieving a settlement regardless of the prospects of success you have in winning at an Employment Tribunal.
If, for whatever reason, you have been in dispute with your employer and wish to negotiate a settlement agreement and have not contacted you trade union and do not wish to either apply for funding from your trade union or use your trade union’s solicitors, then we may well be able to help you so please feel free to give us a call or fill out an application form for a free consultation.
Should I go to court?
Court is a world of pain for everyone, and is best avoided. Luckily this applies to your employer as well as you so they will be motivated to settle a case before it reaches the courts.
If your case does reach that stage it is probably the first time that you have been to court or thought about taking someone to court, so naturally it’s very daunting. However, we go to court day in and day out so for us it’s just a process to bring about a conclusion between our clients and their employers. We are experienced in assisting clients with all stages of taking an employment law case to Tribunal, but most often we would recommended that we try and negotiate a settlement before reaching the courts.
Do I have to use a solicitor from the list given to me by my employer?
If you need to have a settlement agreement reviewed and signed, your employer will pay the fee required for this. If your employer (or the HR department) has provided you with a list of solicitors who are able to do this for you, you do not have to use one of the people or practices on this list. You can choose any solicitor you would like to review the offered agreement, and your employer will still have to pay the fee. We would never charge more than the employer pays us, so this service is free to the employee.
What is a sign-only settlement agreement?
This is a lengthy legal contract which usually sets out that your employer will pay you the money in return for you promising not to bring any claims against them or saying anything bad about them, for example.
In some cases you might have reached a settlement with your employer yourself, without getting lawyers involved. It is always worth checking if it really is enough in the circumstances, as very often we will be able to negotiate you more once we have reviewed the paperwork. However, if you have reached a settlement deal that you are happy with then your employer will ask you to sign something called a settlement agreement.
Because this is a legal document you must get legal advice before you sign it and your employer will pay the costs of you getting that advice. We are happy to advise you about your settlement agreement even if we haven’t done the initial negotiations for you – and it won’t cost you anything as your employer will pay our fee.
How long does it take to complete a settlement?
Momentum is key in negotiations because if you keep your opponent on the back foot, they are more likely to give up and offer you a deal. Once they sense that they have seized the momentum, for example by making a move (like issuing a grievance decision) which results in you stalling for time, then they sense that you are starting to lose your resolve. They will then naturally strengthen in their own resolve and start to believe that they can win. So it will be harder for you to bounce back and take the momentum back.
That’s why we act quickly and decisively in order to secure you the best deal. When time is of the essence in a ‘sign-only’ situation, and when you may need advice and a settlement agreement certificate in a matter of hours, rather than in days or weeks, we will usually be able to help you. So do check out the turn-around time of any lawyer you choose to sign off your agreement which not only needs to be dealt with quickly, but also efficiently and above all, with your best interests in mind.
Can my employer reduce a settlement offer they've already made me?
It’s very unusual for a company to decrease an offer which they’ve already made to an employee. Perhaps as low as one in a thousand. And those tend to be small one-man-band type companies whereby the boss takes it personally and throws their toys out the pram just because you instructed lawyers. The vast majority of companies will have calculated the value of any offer made to you on a commercial basis and that amount will only go up, not down.
Should I work whilst settlement agreement negotiations are going on?
Normally yes, unless your GP signs you off. This is because most employers only put their employees on garden leave once the terms of any deal are agreed and a settlement agreement has been signed. If you feel too stressed to work then your GP should give you a sick note.
What proof do I need in a workplace dispute case?
It is really useful for to you keep records of your dispute at work. For example, if you are being discriminated against by a manager ensure that you make a note of every occasion when they conduct themselves in a way that you are unhappy with – record the date and what was said. This provides a contemporaneous note and as memories fade over time it is really strong evidence to have.
If you are going through a redundancy process, then you are likely to be invited to a consultation meeting (and if you are not, your dismissal for redundancy will probably be unfair). You should ask to record these meetings but if your employer objects, get it on record that they refused the request and make sure that you take a note of what was being said, or ask to be allowed a note taker. The same applies for any kind or disciplinary, grievance or dismissal meeting.
A lot of the cases we deal with involve a situation where an employee has been put on a Performance Improvement plan. In that case, evidence of past performance such as appraisals, bonuses/commission, positive feedback etc can all be very useful to have.
Don’t worry though if you don’t have all of this documentation, we can still work with you to put forward the strongest possible arguments tailored to your individual circumstances.
Does Monaco Solicitors represent employers as well as employees?
We are a specialist firm of employment law solicitors who only represent employees, never the employer. We are passionate about helping employees win cases against their employer and achieve higher settlement figures. There is never a conflict of interest as we have never, and will never, represent the employer in any case.
Do I have to be in London?
Monaco Solicitors' headquarters are in London, but we maintain a presence assisting clients nationwide, so no, you don't have to be in London. The vast majority of our cases are conducted via email and over the phone, with minimal disruption to your routine. Our clients find this to be a stress-free and convenient feature of our firm. To get started just fill in the online case details form and we will be in touch to let you know if we feel you have a case that we can assist with.
Can I get a free consultation?
If you have filled out the online case details form, one of our senior lawyers will assess the specifics of your case. If they feel that we may be able to help you, they will call you for a free 15 minute phone consultation. If our lawyers do not feel that they would be able to help you due to the details of your case, you will receive an email explaining this. We will not offer a consultation or accept any fees if we can see that there is no way that we will be able to help you.
When should Monaco Solicitors get involved?
The sooner the better. Employees often want to do their grievance themselves or negotiate the initial offer themselves. This is fine, but think about contacting us early on, so we can call you first for an informal chat – maybe we can guide you through doing it the best way possible. Then if/when we do get involved, it's easier for us and for you as well. The best course of action is to instruct us from the outset in order to give yourself the best chance at getting a good deal.
How much will representation cost me?
We like to offer 'no win no fee' terms wherever possible. This means we charge a modest percentage of any deal we negotiated for you. The percentage charged would depend on the complexity and circumstances of your case. We would talk you through it and ensure you fully understood it in advance.
If you have already been offered a settlement amount, our percentage charge would be on the increase only, not on the total settlement figure. So hiring us as your lawyers wouldn't cost you more than we could make for you over and above what you've already been offered.
However it is normally best to contact us before you have received an offer, because we are able to guide your hand better, the earlier on in the process that we become involved.
We can also offer competitive hourly rates for some kinds of work, and there might also be occasions where we can charge a fixed fee for a specific piece of work.
If we don't think that we can significantly increase your settlement amount or improve its terms, we will tell you honestly, as quickly as possible, and not take on your case.
We make our fee structure transparent and we never bill you for any hidden costs. We accept most major credit and debit cards as payment. Visit our fees page to find out more.
Should I represent myself?
You could possibly represent yourself, but we would not recommend it unless yours was a very straightforward and simple case. The nature of employment cases mean that they can be very stressful to deal with on your own, and you probably will not have the specialist knowledge and skills needed for a successful outcome. By instructing a specialist employment solicitor, you are handing over the burden and paperwork to a professional who will expertly deal with your case as quickly as possible, so that you can move on with your life. We deal with these cases every day and we take the emotion out of it for you.
Looking at it from a purely financial point of view, you want to leave your job and you need to secure a sum of money to tide you over until you get another job. You didn’t want this situation to happen but now it has, you will most likely need help to bring it to a fair conclusion.
For the money which you invest in us, especially if we conduct your case on a 'no win no fee' basis, we are able to multiply this many times over for you. We always ensure that you fully understand the terms on which we will represent you before you agree anything, and we never ask for payment up front. So in a purely practical sense, instructing lawyers to represent you is a necessary way to secure a favourable financial outcome with the minimum negative impact on you.
How much should I get in my settlement?
How much we are able to negotiate for you in a settlement will often depend on your length of service. This is because if you have worked somewhere for less than 2 years you won’t be able to claim unfair dismissal except in very specific circumstances.
In addition, the length of your notice period is also likely to have an impact on settlement. For example, if you have a three-month notice period and your employer wanted to dismiss you for capability they would still have to give you three months’ notice or pay you in lieu of it. This should therefore be reflected in any settlement. On the other hand, if you only have a two week notice period then this is also likely to be reflected in any settlement.
If you have been discriminated against, for example because you have a disability or because you have taken maternity leave, then we are likely to be able to negotiate more for you as we can argue that you should get compensation for injury to feelings.
Make sure that you try our settlement calculator to see how much money we might be able to get for your in a settlement from your employer.
What should I do now?
Fill in our online Case Details Form with the details of your case, and one of our team will be in touch with your shortly, either by email or phone, to advise you on whether you have a case and if we would be able to assist you improve your settlement.
If we think that we can help you and you instruct us, one of our senior lawyers will see your case through from start to finish.
Try out our settlement calculator to see how much your case could potentially be worth with our assistance.
Do I have a strong case?
Although every case is different it is important for you to know that we achieve a settlement for our clients in 95% of cases.
Remember that negotiating a settlement agreement or an exit package is different from having your case heard by a judge in an employment tribunal, where the evidence is analysed with a fine-tooth comb. Often the threat of litigation will bring an employer to the negotiating table because they want to avoid the time and expense of going to Court. Also, grievances can be lengthy and complicated to deal with and an employer might be worried about getting it wrong and leaving themselves open to a claim or bad publicity. There might also have been a breakdown in relationships meaning that an employer might want to reach agreement quickly. With all situations it is still question of getting you the best possible amount so that you don’t under-settle.
Although the majority of cases do settle, our lawyers also have a huge amount of experience in taking employers’ to the Employment Tribunal and winning, often against large corporations.