Bournemouth firm Fynn & Partners has been ordered to pay out £11,000 to a former assistant unfairly dismissed by the firm in 1995.
Anita Dench worked as a property assistant in the Bournemouth office of Penningtons and was made redundant when the office opted to de-merge in 1995, forming Fynn & Partners.
In 1996, an industrial tribunal in Croydon ruled she had been unfairly dismissed because Penningtons had vacancies suitable for Dench in other offices, which it had failed to offer her. The tribunal also ruled that under EU regulations liability had passed to Fynn & Partners.
Initially, she was awarded only around £1,500 because she had taken "stop gap" work with another firm six weeks after she left. But the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling and, earlier this month,
Croydon industrial tribunal increased the award to the statutory maximum.
Dench, who is a locum, said she was "very relieved" but after her experience she was thinking of leaving the profession. She said: "The public perception of solicitors is not very high."
Fynns partner Nigel Mills said the firm was slightly aggrieved as it was Penningtons which had made Dench redundant. "It's irksome but we're taking it on the chin."
A spokeswoman for Penningtons declined to comment on the case.