Hard and soft numbers

An important part of case preparation is drawing up a schedule of loss. This is a list of the money that you are claiming from your employer.

A schedule should be complete and optimistic, without being silly. It should include everything that, if things go very well indeed, the tribunal might award.

This means that most schedules ask for an amount much higher than you are actually likely to get.

It is important to keep this in mind. Firstly, because otherwise you are likely to be disappointed by what is actually a stunning victory. Secondly, because when negotiating you need to take account of the likely outcome much more than the schedule of loss.

A convenient mental short hand is hard and soft numbers. Hard numbers are those that are unlikely to change very much. Soft numbers are those that are likely to change a great deal. A hard schedule of loss is one where, if you win, you are likely to recover something close to the amount claimed. A soft schedule is one where, if you win you are likely to recover much less.

A hard schedule is not necessarily better than a soft one. A claim with a near certainty of getting £300 is not nearly so good as a soft claim for £50k. After all, even if you only recover 5% of the latter you will end up with £2,500.

But it will be very difficult to properly negotiate the claim for £50k, unless you recognise that the most likely outcome is about £10k.

Most schedules have some hard elements and some soft ones. It is normally worth going through point by point to assess how much the claim is likely to be worth.

Of course, the other important assessment is how likely you are to win in the first place. A hard schedule of £1,000 in a very weak case is very different to one in a very strong case.

If you are advising a claimant it is important to make sure that your client understands what the schedule of loss means in real terms. Otherwise, you are setting them up for disappointment and hindering their ability to make sensible decisions in settlement.

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