No Win No Fee Solicitors

What does it mean to you?

A ‘no win no fee’ agreement or Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) is when your solicitor only gets paid if they win your case. If your claim is not successful and your solicitor does not win damages on your behalf, they are not paid for their time and work on your case.

It’s an excellent way of funding a medical negligence claim. For the vast majority of people who cannot afford expensive legal fees, it is the only way of getting justice.

Bolt Burdon Kemp regularly represents people on ‘no win no fee’ agreements and we make the process easy for our clients.

What happens if I win or lose?

In short, the CFA means that the solicitor or barrister usually only gets paid if the client wins the case and will not charge anything if the case is lost.

A ‘win’ usually means that the person you are suing has been ordered to pay you damages (money) and the bulk of your legal costs. If you win your claim, then the solicitor or barrister acting on a ‘no win no fee’ agreement will be entitled to their fees and a ‘success fee’ which will have been set at a level previously agreed with you. The success fee is calculated as a percentage of the legal costs and in many cases will be capped by agreement.

If you lose, it means that the court has decided that the person you are suing was not negligent or should not be liable to you for some other reason. At Bolt Burdon Kemp, if we agree to act on a CFA then it means we are confident that we will get the result you want. But in the unlikely event that you do lose, you will have no legal bill for your own costs. Your solicitors or barristers acting on a CFA clearly have a huge incentive to win the case.

Why do ‘no win no fee’ agreements exist?

Before the introduction of CFAs in 1999, legal aid was available for the poorest people but the majority did not qualify, but still were unable to afford legal fees.

When the government abolished legal aid for personal injury cases in 1999 and then for almost all civil litigation, the CFA was created to replace it. Clients can now instruct both solicitors and barristers on ‘no win no fee’ agreements.

Myths about ‘no win no fee’ agreements

Here are five common misunderstandings about CFAs:

  1. CFAs are only available for people claiming for personal injury
    CFAs are available in all civil claims and are not restricted to people claiming money. If a person is defending a claim, this can also be funded by a CFA.
  2. All solicitors offer CFAs
    In fact most solicitors are risk averse and will not risk their time or their fees. The exception to this rule is in personal injury claims where CFAs are standard.
  3. The solicitor will take a percentage of my damages when I win
    A Damages Based Agreement allows a solicitor to charge a client a percentage of their damages if they win the case, irrespective of how much work the solicitor has actually done. With a ‘no win no fee’ agreement or CFA, the solicitor is allowed to charge his usual fees for the work done, the majority of which will be paid by the defendant. If the client wins their case, the solicitor can charge their client a ‘success fee’ which comes out of the client’s damages, but is fixed according to the work done not the damages recovered. So if the solicitor’s fees are £10,000 and the success fee is 20%, the client will be charged a success fee of £2,000. In addition, the solicitor can charge his client for any fees not paid by the defendant and this can be an unlimited sum. At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we limit such charges so our clients know exactly what the case will cost them to run.
  4. I don’t pay anything
    ‘No win no fee’ is often interpreted as amounting to cost free litigation. This is not the case and fees are payable when you win as explained above. At Bolt Burdon Kemp we give you very clear advice about the limit of any fees you may be charged.
  5. Expenses
    Expenses such as court fees and expert’s reports are called “disbursements” by solicitors.  These are not covered by the CFA. However, some law firms will agree to fund these expenses and at Bolt Burdon Kemp we can also arrange insurance to ensure that they are paid if the case is lost. If you win they will be paid by the other side.