No Win No Fee Solicitors
A ‘no win no fee’ agreement or Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) is when your solicitor only gets paid if they win your case. It’s an excellent way of funding a claim. Here’s how it works.
What does it mean to you?
If your claim is not successful and your solicitor does not secure damages on your behalf, they are not paid for their time and work on your case.
For the vast majority of people who cannot afford expensive legal fees, it is the only way of getting justice.
We regularly represent people using ‘no win no fee’ agreements and we make the process easy for our clients.
What happens if I win?
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 CFA means your solicitor or barrister 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 will be capped at a maximum percentage of your damages.
What happens if I lose?
If you lose, it means that the court has decided that the person you are suing was not negligent or is not liable to you for some other reason. If we agree to act on a CFA, it means we’re confident that we’ll get the result you want. But in the unlikely event that you do lose, you won’t need to pay a 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 didn’t qualify, and yet were still 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 to a percentage of our client’s damages, so our clients know the maximum that the case will cost them to run.
- I won’t have to pay anything
When you hear ‘no win no fee’, you might think you won’t have to pay anything at all. This isn’t the case though, and fees are payable when you win as explained above. We’ll always make sure to give you very clear advice about the limit of any fees you may be charged.
Expenses such as court fees and expert’s reports are called “disbursements” by solicitors. These aren’t 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’re paid if the case is lost. If you win, they’ll be paid by the other side.