Costs and Fees in No Win No Fee Agreements (Summary List)
July 5, 2013
Following is a list of fees and costs you may incur even if you enter into a No Win No Fee Agreement:
- While you will not be required to pay your solicitor's basic fees if you lose your court case for a compensation claim, you will be responsible for paying the defendant's legal fees (if you lose the case). This risk can be offset by purchasing After-the-event insurance, but obviously you will still need to pay for the purchase of that insurance. If you cannot afford to purchase this insurance, your solicitor may agree to incur this cost and purchase this insurance in some circumstances, but this decision depends on the solicitor that you have hired.
- If you win your case for a compensation claim, the defendant (opposing party) will be responsible for paying your solicitor's basic fees. However, in some cases the defendant may feel that your solicitor's basic fees are too high, and may appeal this to the court. If this appeal succeeds, the court may decide that the defendant is not responsible for paying the full amount, which means that you (the claimant) are responsible for paying part of your solicitor's basic fees out of your own awarded damage compensation. Some solicitors may form an agreement with you beforehand that they will only collect basic fees from you that total the amount you are able to get from the defendant, and no more, should your case be successful. This type of agreement, should it exist, must be stated in writing within the No Win No Fee agreement.
- Remember that if you win your case, you must pay your solicitor's "success fee" out of your awarded damages. This success fee is calculated as a percentage of the solicitor's basic fees. If you win your case, you will be responsible for paying your solicitor's success fee that can be up to a maximum amount of 25 percent of the court-awarded damages that you receive, as a losing defendant is no longer required to pay the success fee of a winning claimant's solicitor due to specific Provisions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (an act of Parliament) that came into effect in April 2013.
- If your compensation claim proceeds to court, it is possible that you may require a barrister to represent you (in addition to a solicitor). One of the tasks of a barrister is to provide specialist legal advice. Barrister fees are typically not included in No Win No Fee agreements, so you may need to pay these barrister fees regardless of whether your case is won or lost in the end. It may be possible, however, for your solicitor to convince your barrister to also take on the case on a No Win No Fee basis.
- There are miscellaneous expenses you may be required to incur even upon entering into a No Win No Fee Agreement. These expenses include court fees, traveling expenses, and expert's fees. Also, sometimes there are hidden costs buried in the fine print of your No Win No Fee agreement with your solicitor. For example, you may be charged extra costs from your solicitor if you win your case but the opposing party (the defendant), despite orders from the court, cannot pay your solicitor's legal costs due to extraordinary circumstances. As another example, if your solicitor provides you with official advice to settle out of court but you insist on continuing on with the case, you may be charged an additional fee. Similarly, if your solicitor provides you with official advice to continue on with the case but you insist on settling out of court, you may be charged an additional fee. Generally speaking, if you refuse to adhere to the official advice of your solicitor in any way, you may be charged additional fees. Also, in the rare circumstance where you may decide to change your solicitor in the middle of the case, if you win your case, you may be responsible for paying the success fee of your "old" solicitor in addition to any fees you owe to your "new" solicitor. Always read the agreement you sign with your solicitor very carefully and keep a close eye on these additional expenses and fees.
Advantages and Disadvantages of No Win No Fee Agreements
July 26, 2013
No win no fee claims are now seen and heard in abundance whether it be television advertisements or within newspapers. Sometimes, even telephone calls urge you to make a claim if you suffered a personal injury. To take one example, individuals who have suffered an accident at work or a medical condition resulting from working conditions may be eligible for compensation, as employers are required by law to ensure safety of their employees.
Personal injury claims are very common among no win no win fee agreements, which are purported to pursue your case on an apparent risk-reduced basis, but to what extent do they deliver what they promise? Claims pursued through no win no fee agreements have associated advantages and disadvantages both for clients and solicitors. Here, we discuss advantages and disadvantages of such claims from a client point of view.
Let us first again review what constitutes a no win no fee claim:
A no win no fee claim is where a solicitor files a claim on a client's behalf. If the client wins the claim, he would usually keep the majority of the awarded compensation and only be required to pay his solicitor's success fee for winning the case. Success fees can not exceed 25 percent of the total awarded damages. If the claim is lost, as long as after-the event insurance is purchased prior to the pursuit of a case, the claimant (client) would not have to pay the solicitor fees of the opposing party. However the process is not as straight forward as it seems.
Advantages of No Win No Fee Agreements:
No upfront fee:
The major advantage of personal injury claims pursued through No Win No Fee agreements is that clients usually are not required to pay any upfront fee. During the initial consultation for other types of agreements, solicitors usually take some kind of deposit. This is generally not the case for no win no fee agreements.
Solicitors have extra incentive to win the case:
Assuming a no win no fee agreement, the personal injury solicitor has extra incentive to work exceptionally diligently to win the case, as the solicitor would not get paid for his efforts should the case be lost.
Fees paid by opposing party:
If the case is won, the client reaps the benefits. The compensation won is mostly kept by the client, minus the solicitor's success fee (mentioned above). Solicitor fees are paid by the opposing party, resulting in no costs associated with basic solicitor fees for the client when a case is won.
Opposing party may be inclined to agree to a settlement:
If your case is strong, the opposing party (the defendant) may be inclined to agree to a settlement to prevent the case from going to court, as defending a lawsuit in court can can incur heavy costs. If the opposing party decides to accept responsibility and concludes that agreeing to a settlement is the best option in dealing with the claim filed against them, then they may pay out earlier to avoid the possibility of incurring heavy losses that could come from repeated court proceedings. In this way there could be a satisfactory resolution which is beneficial to the long-term interests of both the claimant and the defendant.
Client gets a chance at receiving entitlement:
Without contacting a no win no fee solicitor and obtaining legal advice, a client may miss out on a potential entitlement if he has, for example, suffered an accident at work without knowing his legal rights. No win no fee agreements can allow clients to determine what they may be legally entitled to without suffering a heavy cost.
Initial legal opinion:
During the initial consultation, a solicitor should look at all aspects of a client's claim and discuss the chances of the case being successful. In this way, the client can determine whether it is appropriate to pursue the case or not. Lawyers should also discuss potential flaws in the case and how they can be amended by adequate documentation and argumentation. Personal injury claims solicitors are also obliged by law to go through insurance requirements with clients beforehand.
Disadvantages of No Win No Fee Agreements:
Revealing case details beforehand:
The employment tribunal usually asks personal injury solicitors what the strength of a given case is and whether it has any grounds for proceeding. In this situation, there is the possibility that a claimant may be unable to proceed with his case if the case is weak. In an attempt to provide grounds to justify proceeding with a given case, sensitive details may be revealed prior to a case being legally pursued. This could potentially be a disadvantage to the claimant.
If the claim does not have solid grounds for proceeding, then the claimant may be required to change his stance and even the basis of the entire claim. This raises the possibility of a claimant having to make amendments to the case against his will if advised to do so by his solicitor.
Depending on the agreement reached with his solicitor, a client might be required to purchase after-the event insurance using his own funds in order to prevent the possibility of being required to pay the opposing party's expenses should the case be lost.
Solicitor may refuse to fight the claim:
If a personal injury solicitor feels the claim has little chance of winning, the solicitor may decide not to pursue the case, which could potentially deter the claimant from contacting other prospective solicitors to pursue the case.
Note: We encourage claimants to be persistent in contacting several solicitors to explore the range of opinions and options and not let any single rejection deter you from pursuing what you might be entitled to.
Repayment of social security benefits:
In cases where claimants have received social security payments as part of lost employment they may be liable to repay those benefits if they win their case.
This concludes our summary pertaining to advantages and disadvantages of No Win No Fee agreements. Always use your judgement and make your decision with discretion.
Extra Information For Claimants
July 26, 2013
Below is a list of extra items, notes, and remarks that are relevant for those considering pursuing a compensation claim for an injury they have incurred (whether it be through a No Win No Fee Agreement or otherwise). The remarks below also outline some alternatives to No Win No Fee Agreements.
Sometimes you are already covered by employment insurance which may protect you against the possibility of being required to bear the expenses of the opposing party should your case be lost. Employment insurance is sometimes included in household insurance without you even knowing. So if you have an accident at work, it is advised that you contact your insurance provider to determine if they may be able to provide assistance with regards to the potential cost of your claim.
Public funding or Legal Aid:
Although the chances of acquiring legal aid for personal injury claims are slim, your financial circumstances may entitle you to receive public funding. It is at least worth inquiring about this if you are in difficult financial circumstances. You might also be eligible to obtain legal aid if you are a member of a trade union, so this option is definitely worth exploring at the very least.
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers:
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is a non-profit campaign organisation with members who are lawyers that specialize in every area of personal injury. They can provide you with valuable advice, as this organization has approximately 4700 member lawyers. A simple online internet search will lead you to their webpage where you can learn more about them and contact them if you wish.
Law Society Accreditation Schemes:
It is best to hire a solicitor who is registered according to The Law Society’s Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme or Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme, depending on the type of injury sustained.
Actions to take following an personal injury:
If you have suffered an accident or injury at your workplace, immediately contact and notify your employer in writing. The employment law states you must report the accident to the employer. So this should be the first step. Remember to photocopy all sent documents before sending as well as proof of postage. This will serve to protect you in case your sent documents get lost. If you have suffered as a result of a roadside injury, it is recommended that you photograph the area where the accident occurred and consider pursuing a claim if appropriate.
If you are in constrained financial circumstances, it is recommended to check to see if Legal Aid is available for your claim before proceeding with it, although there is a slim chance of obtaining Legal Aid for personal injury cases. If you are not entitled to Legal Aid and are considering to pursue your claim through a no win no fee agreement, then thoroughly consider the advantages and disadvantages of no win no fee agreements before making a final decision. Check to see if your prospective solicitor is accredited with The Law Society (mentioned above). Also check with your insurance company to see if your household insurance policy could potentially be used to cover possible costs of any claim you may pursue. Obtain as much information as possible from your prospective solicitor to ensure you are not agreeing to anything you may not be aware of. Be clear about every step and ask about costs and when they will apply. Usually solicitors will only agree to pursue your case if it has solid grounds and can be supported by evidence. Always remain vigilant, and do your own research to ensure that you are an informed client.
No Win No Fee Lawsuit Basics
July 24, 2013
Filing a no win, no fee lawsuit may be an appealing option for many claimants because it seems to take much of the risk out of the process. On the surface, it seems like you will either win your money or lose nothing. But the reality is usually more complicated than this, so it would be a good idea to do some research into the process ahead of time. To further complicate matters, the law in the UK is changing so that these claims may not be processed as they once had been. This article will cover some of the basics regarding filing a no win, no fee lawsuit in the UK.
One thing to note about these no win no fee lawsuits is that they may not be provided by every lawyer. You will have to find a lawyer that specifically offers these terms as part of the agreement for taking on the case. Many of these attorneys have highly specialized areas that they practice within. So you will have to find one with the expertise and willingness to take on your case effectively in court. You may or may not be able to find one in your immediate area providing the no win, no fee terms. So it would be in your best interest to do some extensive research that will identify potential lawyers to talk to about your case.
If you are having a difficult time locating a solicitor following the no win, no fee model, you may want to consider looking them up in a directory. There are many such directories for areas all over the UK, with many prominent lawyers working around the London area. A simple internet search for No Win No Fee Solicitor Directories in the UK should likely yield some relevant online solicitor directories.
Solicitor directories often offer attorneys that operate under many different areas of the law. Some of them tend to focus on automotive accidents, whereas others will focus on medical malpractice. Often times a lawyer will receive training and experience that directs them to work in a particular area of law. Consider the nature of your case and which branch of the law your attorney would most likely fall under. This will narrow down your selection and make the process of finding an appropriate attorney much easier.
You will likely want to have a full understanding of the concept of no win no fee agreements before you begin to talk to an attorney. This term may be slightly misleading to some, because it implies there are no fees at all to be paid in the event of a loss. It is true that a no win no fee agreement will reduce your liability in the event that you should lose your court case. Many attorneys are willing to sign on to this agreement because they want to take your case and view it as a likely win for them.
However, even if you sign a no win no fee agreement there are some costs to consider. While most claims cases are settled out of court, in the unlikely event that your case does go to court, keep in mind that every case that appears before the court must be paid for, which means that court costs will be incurred should your case go to court. Usually your lawyer will cover these costs for you during the initial stages of the courtroom process. But if you should lose your case, the attorney may want you to reimburse them for the court costs that were incurred because of your trial. Should you win the case, most of these costs will probably be paid for by the defendant who lost their side of the trial.
Your attorney may also incorporate other expenses as your trial progresses through the court system. For instance, they may opt to hire an expert witness to testify on your behalf. This may be a beneficial decision to add to your case because it can provide solid evidence to your side of an argument. But the witness will likely have to be paid for their time in court, which will initially be handled by your attorney. If you lose the case, the attorney may ask that you cover part of these costs.
Of course, if you do win your case, the attorney will be entitled to their share of the winnings that will be paid by the defendant. This will usually be a percentage amount that has been specified early on in the discussions between you and your attorney. You will have to decide and negotiate for an amount that seems fair to the both of you. Your attorney may be able to estimate how much compensatory damages you will earn should you win the case. Based on this estimate, you may be able to decide whether the percentage cut will be worth what they bring to your case.
Understanding all of this information will be a vital component for you as you decide which attorney is right for you. As with most purchases, an informed consumer will have the best chance of finding the legal team that will bring the most to their case. Try to find multiple different prospective attorneys at first to handle your claims. Finding more prospective no win no fee solicitors initially will let you par down that number until you truly find the best one for you. It may seem like a lot of work to do this much initial research, but it will likely be worth it to you in the long run to strike an effective bargain for your lawyer.
You may be curious why an attorney would be willing to take on a no win no fee agreement if there is a chance they may not get paid. To understand this, realize that legal representation can be a competitive business. Many of these solicitors will be vying for your business, especially if it looks like your have a good case. To make themselves more appealing to clients such as yourself, they may offer their services through a no win, no fee agreement. This is a popular tactic among young lawyers trying to make a name for themselves in a field of law. They may be taking quite a risk with your case, but it is worth it to them to get a little bit of success in their careers.
That being said, you should not look at solicitors offering no win, no fee agreements as poorly trained or unqualified to take your case. There are many great attorneys to be found that have simply been undiscovered. They may view no win no fee claims as a way to draw attention towards their fledgling career. They may also have just opened up a new practice of their own and could be searching for a new set of clientele. It takes time to build up a reputation for success in a community. The no win no fee agreement system is just one method of building that type of reputation.
There are a few reasons that may or may not disqualify you from obtaining a no win no fee agreement. A lawyer must first determine whether or not your case has legal merit. You will also need to be willing to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement, which will be a legally binding document detailing the negotiation settled for payment on this case. Another important issue to note is that there may be considerable changes to the no win no fee agreement system in the UK soon. Parliament has recently passed a series of laws that will likely reduce the number of these cases that are admitted into the justice system. There was a lot of debate surrounding these bills, but it does seem to be the case that changes are coming to the way that Conditional Fee Agreements are handled in the UK.
One of the reasons these laws were passed is that there is some degree of popular perception that Conditional Fee Agreements tend to apply to many frivolous lawsuits. Proponents of the law state that if there is no downside to losing a case, then claimants will have no reason to second guess themselves before filing a suit of any kind through the justice system. This may overload the court process and make it more difficult to get through the sum total of cases. Additionally, it may encourage a cultural climate where people can sue each other for nearly any reason.
Whether or not any of this is correct is up for debate. But the fact remains that parliament has passed new legislation that affects no win no fee agreements. So the best thing to do will be to look over the details of your case, especially in light of the new legal regulations. For instance, if you are considering filing a claim against an employer for unpaid wages you will want to make sure that this is still permissible under the new legislation (ask your prospective solicitor regarding the details of recently-passed legislation and how it applies to your circumstance).
Another facet of this new legislation passed by parliament is that the winner of a case will have to pay a "success fee" to the court. This is an additional tax that will be imposed to pay for the time consumed by your case within the justice system. Your prospective attorney will likely have already familiarized themselves with the terms of this success fee. So when you sit down to negotiate the possibility of a Conditional Fee Agreement, ask them to estimate how this success fee could impact the payout of the case.
Some people have asserted that the legislation passed by parliament is discriminatory against certain populations within the UK. For instance, many women make use of the no win no fee agreement for a variety of lawsuits that are essential to them. If the court clamps down on these agreements in particular, it may adversely affect issues that are central to women's representation in the court system. Some also claim that it will reduce the likelihood that women will be able to find lawyers to take some of their cases. However, there have not been any plans discussed yet to overturn this new set of laws.
Understanding all of this information will be your responsibility as a claimant in the court system. A good lawyer will be willing to help make sense of all of this to you. They may also be willing to offer a Conditional Fee Agreement. But you will have to do most of the initial legwork to help you find the right lawyer for your case. This will be an essential step in helping your case along. If you want your legal rights protected, becoming a legally-informed citizen is very important.
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