How Long Does an Unfair Dismissal Claim Take?


In our experience as Employment Solicitors, some unfair dismissal claim cases can settle within a matter of weeks, most cases take between 5 and 7 months to reach settlement, but other cases can sometimes take up to 2 years.


It’s hard to assess the timeframe at the outset as not all unfair dismissal claims will be resolved in the same way.


Some unfair dismissal cases may be resolved during the Early Conciliation Process, while others will go all the way to a hearing at an Employment Tribunal.


For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Solicitors.


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Before making an unfair dismissal claim, it’s best to obtain legal advice from an Employment Solicitor who can advise you on how strong your claim is and whether you’re likely to succeed.

Use our Unfair Dismissal Compensation calculator to see how much your claim could be worth.

Timeframe for Making an Unfair Dismissal Claim

Making the Claim – 0 to 4 months

To be eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you must have worked as an employee (i.e. not self-employed or an agency worker) for the employer for 2 consecutive years.

The time limit for making a claim is 3 months, less one day, of the date your contract of employment was terminated. For example, if your employment ended on 2nd May, you would have to make your claim by 1st August that year.

The first step is to lodge your claim with the Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service (ACAS). You must do this before you can put papers before the Employment Tribunal. This triggers what is known as the Early Conciliation period. This period lasts for one month and pauses the time limit to bring your claim before the Employment Tribunal. Using the example dates above, the papers would need to be with the Employment Tribunal by 1st September.

During the Early Conciliation period, ACAS will speak to you and your employer, and act as a go-between to try and settle your case without the need to go to an Employment Tribunal. If your unfair dismissal case settles, then that is the end of case, which will have taken around one month.

If your case doesn’t settle at this point, ACAS will issue you with a certificate, allowing you to put your papers before the Employment Tribunal.

The Employment Tribunal - 4 months to 2 years

You can still seek to settle your case before the hearing at the Employment Tribunal, and the Tribunal actively encourages employees and employers to seek to settle the case without the need for a hearing. ACAS conciliation is still available throughout the process, as long as both you and your employer agree to it.

To put your unfair dismissal claim before the Employment Tribunal, you need to complete a form called an ET1 and provide the details of, and events leading to, your dismissal from work. The Employment Tribunal will then contact your employer and ask for their formal response in a form called an ET3. Your employer must provide the response within 28 days.

The Employment Tribunal will consider the papers and then decide whether there should be a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing may be necessary to obtain further information and to provide timescales for both you and your employer to take certain steps before the final hearing. These steps may include arranging documents to be sent between you and your employer and organising witnesses.

Depending on the complexity of your case, and the availability of Employment Tribunal Judges, it could take up to two years for a final hearing to take place.

Unfair Dismissal Case Studies

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