No win no fee (NWNF), also known as conditional fee, is an agreement between a client and law firm wherein the solicitor will take a law case on the understanding that if lost, no payment will be made. On the other hand, if a case is won, the solicitor is entitled to a normal fee plus success fee. The success fee is no more than 25% of the damages. This arrangement makes it easier for more people to pursue their civil rights.
In England and Wales, NWNF deals were first used in 1995. After three years, a motion was made to extend these to all civil cases, except in family courts. Then-minister Geoff Hoon believed that NWNF agreements would lead to a better access to justice. In 2000, the ‘1999 Access to Justice Act’ agreement type allowed judges to make the losing side shoulder additional costs associated with the cases. These are the fees charged by lawyers who increase normal fees to make up for possible lost cases, and insurance premiums paid as protection in case of defeat. Legal aid for injury claims was abolished, making NWNF deal the only hope. These changes have led to negative news about the legal industry.
If you have suffered injuries at work, you can file accident claims on a NWNF agreement. This deal can also be used for medical claims and car accident claims. Personal injury claims are filed typically based on negligence, and the time limit is three years. If you enter this agreement, you do not have to pay solicitor’s fees if you lose. If you win, you have to pay solicitor’s fees.
Please also be aware that cases can be thrown out if they are not deemed valid.
Advantages and Disadvantages
NWNF claims are designed to help the public gain access to justice. It is advantageous for claimants because the costs are linked to outcome. If a case is lost, the claimant does not pay anything to the solicitor, unless he or she has agreed to pay the court fees, the expert fees and other expenses that your solicitor paid for with the case.
If an ‘after event insurance’ is taken; claimants may be relieved of paying the opponent’s costs if the case is lost. If the opponent is told beforehand that the claimant has agreed to a conditional fee agreement, it may encourage early settlement since the other party will know that taking a case to court won’t be a big concern because you must have after event insurance to cover costs.
Another advantage of conditional fee or NWNF agreement is that in most cases, the success fee is paid by the losing end. Thus, any damages received will not be affected. Major financial incentives are offered to solicitors, and they should work harder to win a case.
If there are advantages, there are also some disadvantages of you must be aware of. If you decide to file NWNF accident claims or other personal injury claims, you must tell the other party that you have made such an arrangement with your representatives. You must also declare any risk analysis carried out by your solicitor to determine success fees. In filing for compensation claim, you can easily get free solicitors’ advice, but sometimes, solicitors are reluctant to take difficult cases using NWNF deals because of the possibility of not being paid. You may have to shoulder their costs unless you buy insurance to cover risk of the opponent winning.
Solicitors Fees & Hidden Costs
It is crucial to understand about solicitors’ fees and other costs involved in an claims. Under NWNF compensation claims, the claimant would pay for the opponent’s costs if the case is lost. To cover these, it is recommendable to take an insurance policy, as the costs could be high. This is otherwise known as after the event insurance. Most solicitors will ask to take this out even before a case starts. However, not everyone can take out after the event insurance. Insurance providers may not be so willing to insure claimants especially if chances of winning are low. If claimants cannot get insurance, it is best to think carefully before deciding to pursue claim under this agreement. Costs can be expensive, particularly if there is no insurance.
If claimants cannot pay for the insurance fees upfront, he or she should discuss it with their solicitor. The solicitor may pay for it. Fees can be postponed until your case is decided if the latter is not possible. Alternatively, claimants can take a loan, but should also expect interest paymentd.
Accident compensation claims can be a slow process. Once you decide to pursue a case, be prepared for solicitor’s fees. These include basic fees and a success fee once a case is won. In case you lose, you will not have to pay for the basic fees. If you win, your solicitor should be paid by the losing side, or your opponent. However, if your opponent thinks the fees are too high, the court can decide that they do not pay for the amount in full. If this happens, you need to pay the difference from your compensation. Your solicitor may agree to charge you according to what you take back from the other side, but this should be specified in your agreement.
Success fees are part of the additional fee that you must pay your solicitor if you win. These fees may be high and can even double the amount charged in other legal arrangements. Before deciding to pursue NWNF claims, confirm this with your solicitor. If the solicitor’s fees seem too high reconsider filing your case or get a quote from another competitor.
Aside from your solicitor’s fees, you should also prepare for other fees such as barrister’s fees and some hidden charges. Barrister’s fees are what you pay to a barrister once your case goes to court, but in NWNF deals, you might not need a barrister. Other expenses may include accident report fees, experts’ fees, court fees, official searches, and traveling expenses. Be careful about hidden costs that may be charged to you, check the written agreement carefully and ask your solicitor if you have any questions.
In the video below the Legal Ombudsman team outline the dangers of hidden solicitors fees.
How Much Accident Compensation Should I Expect?
It is important to determine how much accident compensation you can get once you file for a NWNF claim because it could help you decide whether you should pursue a case or not. As previously stated, success fees charged by your solicitor may be higher than your expected compensation, therefore it may not be worth the risk. It is best to get quotes from several solicitors to ensure you are getting the best rates.
If you are filing for an accident compensation claim, you can use a compensation calculator. This tool will help estimate the cost you receive. This is helpful especially for those who want to file for accident at work compensation. Most tools simply ask users to select the area of the body affected and the type of injury. A table showing the range of compensation payments to be awarded can give claimants an idea on the value they are fighting for. It pays to know, however, that filing claims is not just about the financial aspect, but also about fighting for yourself, especially if you think that your rights abused. This may also prevent your opponent being negligent in the future.
It is important to note the determining factors for accident compensation rates to ensure you have an idea how much you will be receiving. These include the extent of injury, the length of recovery and the effect it may have in your life, for example; if you can no longer work because of it. Future effects are more likely to influence the claim rather than past expenses. You can be awarded general and special damages if you win. General damages are for the effects the injury has had in your life. Special damages are your out of the pocket expenses.
In the video below Jeff Randall speaks to the experts on Sky News about the government policy of improving the fairness of NWNF cases.
No Win No Fee Solicitors: Who to Choose?
In deciding to file a claim, you need the best NWNF solicitors should you choose this kind of arrangement. Whether you are filing for medical negligence or car accident claims, the right solicitor will assess your situation and provide the best legal advice and representation. He or she can gather all substantial evidence to support your case. Solicitors should follow professional standards and treat you fairly. They are responsible for providing all the information you need to decide on the service applicable to your case, and tell you how your case should be handled. They should also give full disclosure about the costs.
To choose the best solicitor for your claim, you can check if he is a member of reputable panels such as the Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. The former is the organisation that monitors all practicing solicitors in UK and it has panels for those who can prove their expertise. Members of these groups have adequate experience in the area of law you are dealing. You may also check your lawyer’s website, if he or she has one. You may ask former clients regarding feedback, to know your solicitor’s performance and fees.
You should make sure that your lawyer’s actions are regulated and that they carry the necessary certification. The right lawyer should not pressure you to make a claim. Do not be deceived by flashy advertisements. If it is too good to be true, it’s best to be more cautious. If the lawyer belongs to a law firm, check the firm’s track record. You should also check the lawyer’s availability. If he is loaded with cases, he might be slow in responding and meeting your needs. Solicitors have their specific area of expertise like employment, medical negligence, etc. Find the candidate that specialises in the expertise you need.
Injury Claim Management Companies
Claim management companies (CMS) offer the services of claim managers, handlers or assessors to take on compensation claims on NWNF deals. Managers or handlers may offer to handle cases themselves, or use a solicitor as a go-between. However, before doing any legal activities, they should be authorised by the government to do business. There are strict rules they should follow, including how they advertise, do business, and represent clients. If you chance upon one of these managers and you are not happy with their performance, you can make a complaint. Before deciding to deal with them, check if they are authorised. However, it is not highly recommendable you use their service.
Claim managers may not have the legal competence to handle work accident claims or other personal injury claims. They are not like solicitors who can claim compensation through courts. Usually, they will try to persuade you to agree on out of court settlements and may lead you to getting low compensation amounts. CMCs are known for their high fees. A CMC may persuade you to allow them to process claim and take a commission of 25% even if it is unsuccessful.
Claim management companies may charge a lot for the services they offer, they may even ask for contingency fee. This is a percentage of the compensation you will receive in case you win. The worst scenario is that you might end up getting little or nothing out of your compensation. In filing important claims, to fight for your rights and to compensate for the damages you have endured, make sure you get the services of competent solicitors and not from untrained individuals.