No Win No Fee
A Step by Step Guide to No Win No Fee Compensation
No win no fee is a term used to describe the way many of the personal injury cases in the UK are now funded. It is in fact misleading as you might well have to pay a fee if you win and you may remain liable for certain costs if you lose. In Britain the legal term for the funding of such cases is ‘conditional fee agreements’. The restructuring of the Legal Aid system has restricted access to it for most people and as a result ‘no win no fee’ cases have increased.
Before going ahead with a ‘no win no fee’ claim, check whether any of your house or motor insurance policies include Legal Expense Insurance which will cover the case. This may be a better way of funding your claim. If you do decide to proceed with a no win no fee claim then proceed carefully; the following step-by-step guide should help you:
- Get your solicitor to write an estimate of legal costs before you sign any agreement.
- Get a model conditional fee agreement from the Law Society to help you understand what they are.
- Read your conditional fee agreement carefully before you sign it; ask your solicitor to explain anything you don’t understand.
- Get out legal insurance (called After the Event insurance) to cover you if you lose your case; this is very important as you don’t want to be liable for your opponent’s costs and any additional fees incurred during the case. Check the conditions of this insurance as it might have limitations on costs and restrictions on the case. Your solicitor will help you with this.
- Make sure you know whether you will be paying your solicitor a ‘success fee’ in addition to costs in the event of your case being successful. The riskier the case the higher the success fee and sometimes it can be a large part of the award. If you are not sure how the success fee has been calculated, again ask the solicitor to explain.
- Make sure you begin legal proceedings within three years of the date you suffered a personal injury, as there is a strict time limit.
- Make sure to amass as much supporting evidence as you can throughout the case; doctor’s certificates etc will help corroborate your claim and be patient as 'no won no fee' cases can take quite a long time to process.