Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Tales from the Tribunal Part 7 - What Did it Cost?

Running my employment tribunal case clearly cost NCC quite a lot of money. In this post I'm going to attempt to put a rough guess on how much that was.

What should have been the easiest bit to work out wasn't as simple as I'd hoped. I put in a Freedom of Information request asking how much had been spent on external barristers representing NCC during the dates of my hearing. The answer that came back was £14,050 + VAT but that this was for 2 cases. So how much was for mine?

To be honest, I would have been skeptical at that figure for my case alone. I had 10 full days of a London barrister's time all to myself. One of those days would have been covered by the briefing fee (see below) but still I wouldn't have expected any change from £20k. Still we have to take them at their word I suppose...

Notwithstanding the above, I expect the figure was quoted was mostly down to my case. For my first piece of guesswork I'm going to assume that the work involved on the other case was just a day, maybe a pre-hearing. Certainly I didn't see NCC listed in any other cases on the days I was there, although my case wasn't heard on every day of each week.

So, 90% (for the 9 days of my case) of £14,050 plus VAT at 15% makes £14,605. That's the first bit done.

Now, according to Employment Tribunal Claims, Tactics and Precedents, the way that Barristers charge their fees includes a briefing fee for preparation, which normally includes the first day, followed by daily 'refreshers' for the rest of the hearing. It suggests a rough rule of thumb for the brief fee to cover one day's prep for two days of hearing. So about half as much again basically. All in all that works out to about £22k, so we'll use that for our working figure of how much the barrister cost.

As well as their barrister, NCC also had one of their litigation assistants there every day, apart from a couple of days when our old mate Jon Ludford- Thomas took her place. For ease of guessalculation I'll ignore his extra costs and work on the basis that the LA earns about £25k pa and was there all the time. I reckon that adds another £1300.

Now, right at the start of the hearing, I wrote a somewhat sarcastic post about how many hangers on there were at the hearing, including some very senior staff indeed. At the time I guessed this cost about £1500 for the day and similar levels of attendence conttinued throughout the hearing apart from the last day. So, although this wouldn't have involved any additional expenditure it still represents a cost in terms of time lost to local taxpayers so I'm including a figure of £13,500 for lost time caused by people who fancied a nice day out. However, this does include time spent giving evidence.

So, by my book that makes very nearly £38k for the cost of the hearing itself.

But of course, that's not the end of it because there were three case management discussions where NCC were represented by JLT. Let's guess that took up 1.5 days of his time including preparation and that he earns £40k. That's another £300. Plus £300 for their share of the medical report costs. And of course all of those witnesses (14 in all including a corporate director and two directors) each had to give a statement which, including someone to take each of their statements (presumably the litigation assistant) comes to around £800 at a very conservative estimate and assuming an hour for each statement. Then of course there's £2500 that went to me in the pathetically small damages I got for my life and career being ruined. Lets call that lot about £4k all in.

So, all in all, I estimate my case cost NCC something in the region of £42,000. Which of course gets paid by local taxpayers. Ironically including me. As for the cost of all the BS that led up to it? Frankly that just doesn't bear thinking about.


alanadale said...

Worth every penny though becasue they won didn't they...

Ooops, sorry... what I meant was that it was a scandalous waste of money because they lost with no small degree of embarrassment...

Easy to confuse the two outcomes.

Nick B. said...

Thanks for making the report available. It was a fascinating read, firstly from my perspective as a TU rep and secondly as a Nottingham resident.

I have to say that if the practices highlighted in the report are a reflection of Nottingham City Council as a whole, then in the end it is us residents that end up suffering.

And you won. Good man :)