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No Win No Fee – What’s In It For Me?

The ‘no win no fee’ arrangement is one that can benefit a claimant in many different ways.  Unfortunately, because of a few isolated cases where individuals have been charged solicitors fees when their case was unsuccessful, many people are naturally suspicious when a law firm provides services on this basis.

This blog is designed to help you understand the no win no fee structure and inform you of the protections that are in place which prevent solicitors from charging undisclosed fees at the end of the case.

What is No Win No Fee?

Strictly, a no win no fee arrangement means that if your claim for compensation is unsuccessful then you will not be charged any solicitors’ fees.

Reputable law firms who deal with personal injury claims on a no win no fee basis will outline the charges that will apply to you in full and in writing if requested.  They will answer all your questions upfront and you will not receive any surprise charges at the end of the process, whether or not you are successful in your claim.

Some law firms require claimants to pay the court fees for themselves and the defendant, however, this should be stated clearly upfront so you have this knowledge before you engage the firm as your legal representative.  You should also be informed that you can take out insurance to protect yourself should your claim be unsuccessful.

Changes to the No Win No Fee Arrangements

No win, no fee arrangements were introduced in the 1990s to allow people who would otherwise be unable to access justice because of financial constraints, the ability to bring claims in court for certain situations such as personal injury.  The defendant was responsible for paying the claimant’s legal fees as well as court fees which could lead to a large financial burden being placed upon them.

From the 1st April 2013 no win no fee cases were separated into conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and damages-based agreements (DBAs, sometimes called contingency fees).  If the case is unsuccessful then the lawyer is not paid a fee under either arrangement.

In the case of a CFA, if the claimant is successful then they are responsible for paying their lawyers fee, usually out of the compensation received.  In the case of personal injury the lawyer’s fee cannot be more than 25% of the total amount of compensation rewarded and any claims for future loss or damage cannot be taken into account.

Before 2013, DBAs were used mainly in employment cases and were not used at all in civil cases.  The changes which came into force in 2013 meant DBAs could be used in civil cases, including cases involving personal injury.  Like CFA claims the lawyer’s fee is capped at 25% of the compensation awarded and excludes any money from future claims.

The Law Society

The Law Society maintains a role of protecting the general public from incorrect or unfair solicitors’ fees.  If your case ends and you receive a fee that you were not made aware of prior to the beginning of proceedings you have a right to make a complaint to the Law Society who can sanction the firm or lawyer involved.

If you would like to talk about our no win no fee arrangements then please feel free to call our office to speak to one of our friendly advisors who can guide you through the process and answer all your questions.

Next week we will be discussing the various insurance policies available to protect yourself if your case is unsuccessful and cover your lawyers’ fees if you are.