Tribunal statistics released at the beginning of this month show that the number of employment tribunal claims filed by individuals is down by 3% compared to the same time last year.
One reason the number of claims is low is because employees feel they simply cannot afford to fund their claim, particularly following the introduction of tribunal fees in 2013 of up to £1,200. However you may have access to financial support for your legal fees without knowing it.
Legal Expense Insurance (LEI)
LEI is a form of insurance that will potentially cover the legal cost incurred by you in an employment claim such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment and equal pay claims.
Often it is included within your existing home contents or building insurance cover as an add on but may also be included in policies that you hold with car insurers or credit card companies.
Cover is likely to be subject to certain conditions, for example on you notifying your insurer as early as possible of any dispute, the claim having reasonable prospects of success and an upper limit of cover, but it is always worth contacting your insurer at an early stage to check whether it is part of your insurance policy. They will be able to tell you what you are covered for and what you will need to do to make a claim with them.
Freedom of Choice
Your insurer may tell you that you must use one of their panel solicitors in order to benefit from LEI cover. However that is not the case. If your insurance claim is approved you have the freedom to choose who handles your case and can appoint your own specialist employment lawyer.
We are aware that some insurers are reluctant to meet the full charging rates of employment specialists outside of their panel, but you may have grounds to dispute this provided the fees charged by your chosen solicitor are reasonable. For more information on this issue please see my related blog here.
Our team of employment lawyers at Morrisons Solicitors are here to help and can answer any questions you may have. For further guidance on this or any other employment law issues please contact your usual adviser or Emma McLoughlin on 020 8971 1088 or email [email protected]