No Win No Fee Claim
What is a No Win No Fee Claim?
The 'no win no fee' claim has become an increasingly popular method of funding personal injury cases due to legal aid restructuring. Some that are no longer eligible for financial support have found that this is the only way to fund their claim. This term is slightly misleading as, depending on the precise nature of the agreement, some fees may still be payable. In general however you’ll only have to pay your lawyer’s costs if he/she wins your case but it is important to understand you can still be liable for your opponent’s legal costs if you lose.
The term for 'no win no fee' claim funding originates in America and the full description of the funding arrangement for this type of case is a ‘conditional fee agreement’. In a ‘conditional fee agreement’ if you win the case you’ll be entitled to your reasonable legal costs from the Defendant. But you may have to pay a success fee to your solicitor from the compensation awarded or agreed. If you lose the case you will have to pay your opponent’s legal fees. Your barrister is also likely to enter into a similar agreement agreeing to payment only if your claim is successful. You will have to pay any disbursements such as any experts your solicitor instructed on your behalf.
It should be obvious from this that there is still a large element of risk in starting a ‘no win no fee’ claim. To protect yourself from a big legal bill you must take out After the Event Insurance which your solicitor will assist you with. It may be worthwhile consulting the Law Society, and it is worthwhile consulting them at the beginning of the case, as they should be able to give you a model conditional fee agreement to compare with the one your solicitor offers you, and they may be able to answer any questions you might have.
For a no win no fee solicitor there is also an element of risk involved. They have to decide whether to take on your case before they’ve seen any evidence to support it and if they do not succeed they will lose a lot of money. Some personal injury cases can take years to resolve and involve expert evidence and complex arguments. A personal injury lawyer may spend hundreds of hours working on a case and get paid nothing. Despite these risks all successful personal injury lawyers rely on ‘conditional fee agreements’ to finance the majority of their cases.