Many of my clients fund my advice and representation at the Employment Tribunal using a Legal Expenses Insurance policy. However, sometimes getting funding can be a challenge – read on for more information.
What is Legal Expenses Insurance?
As the name suggests, this is a type of insurance product. It is relatively inexpensive (usually £20 to £30 per year). It can be purchased as a stand-alone product to insure against future legal disputes including, of course, Employment Tribunal matters. However, it is much more common for clients to have this insurance as an add-on or upgrade to an existing policy or benefits package.
Do I have Legal Expenses Insurance?
I’ve had many conversations with clients where they did not realise that they had this insurance, much less that it would pay for my assistance to them.
My clients have discovered they have Legal Expenses Insurance as part of a home and contents policy (either theirs or they are living in a household with cover, even if they themselves are not the policy holder); as a benefit as part of a membership of a society or similar; or, as an add on for a fee paying bank account.
What happens if I want to use my insurance to pay for my solicitor?
If you have insurance, they will usually fund representation for your choice of solicitor from the point of your receiving your ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate (see https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/) onwards. You will have to provide all of documentation and explain the basis of your Employment Tribunal claim. If you are a client of Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we will usually do this for you.
Your insurers will then have one of their panel solicitors assess whether the claim has prospects of success and, therefore, whether they will fund your legal representation. For our clients, at this stage they usually have the choice of using the panel solicitors their insurers have instructed or staying with us at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors. Obviously, we hope our clients will stay with us, but that is their decision.
What if my legal expenses insurers refuse to provide cover?
Sometimes an insurer refuses to provide funding because their panel solicitors do not think the claim has “prospects of success”. Under the terms of most Legal Expenses Insurance policies, the insurer will only fund claims which have a greater than 51% chance of winning. If the panel solicitor assesses the claim as having less than that chance, the insurers will refuse to fund representation.
Unfortunately, many people with excellent claims give up at this point. However, this is where persistence (and knowledge about the strength of your case) can pay dividends. For Lincs Law clients we will help challenge decisions made by the insurer’s panel solicitors to enable our clients to access their insurance funding.
However, if you are representing yourself and have received a first refusal from your legal expenses insurance company, there are some things you can do:-
- Write to your insurers and state you disagree with the decision and want a second opinion;
- Request a full explanation of the insurer’s solicitor’s opinion; and,
- When you have received that opinion, carefully read through to make sure they have properly understood the facts of your case. Correct any errors and provide any additional information or evidence you have.
Recently, we have noticed an increase in the number of clients who have been refused funding by their insurers. We have had to support our clients in challenging that decision. On one particular occasion, the panel solicitors of my client’s insurer initially refused my client funding. I disagreed with their assessment of my client’s Employment Tribunal claim. We challenged the first decision and the insurers referred my client’s case to a barrister for a deciding opinion. The barrister agreed with me and my client received funding for legal representation in her Employment Tribunal claim.
The matter was eventually settled by my client for an amount equivalent to her year’s gross salary. My client later told me that when she received that first opinion from the panel solicitor, she was ready to throw in the towel. It was only my belief in her claim and my insistence that she should go forward that stopped her walking away.
How can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors help?
If you have been seeking funding for your Employment Tribunal claim and need help either with your Legal Expenses Insurer or with the claim itself, please call us on 01522 440512. Initial telephone consultations are free so please don’t worry that you will be charged for your first enquiry. For more information about our firm, specifically how we help people with their Employment Tribunal claims, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors