A brief guide to making a No Win, No Fee professional negligence claim
Background to No Win, No Fee funding in the UK
Until the 1990’s No Win, No Fee was forbidden in English law. However when the Government wanted to save money by abolishing Legal Aid it decided to import the concept from jurisdictions like the United States where No Win, No Fee was firmly entrenched in the legal culture. By encouraging solicitors to undertake litigation work on a No Win, No Fee basis the Government thought that access to justice could be preserved, without the taxpayer picking up the tab.
The idea took off and in no time the British people have grown accustomed to using lawyers on a No Win, No Fee basis.
There are various forms of No Win, No Fee funding, but in simple terms the solicitor only gets paid if the case is successful. In the context of a professional negligence claim, this usually means that if the client wins their case for compensation then the solicitor’s fees become payable. If the client does not win their case then the solicitor receives no payment for the work carried out.
Does ‘No Win – No Fee’ mean ‘free’?
Perhaps the greatest misconception is the tendency for people to equate No Win, No Fee with ‘free’.
While it is correct that legal services may be provided without charge where a no win, no fee case is lost, those services are not ‘free’ in the event that the case is successful.
When a no win, no fee case is won the lawyer’s fees become payable. So No Win, No Fee funding in relation to a professional negligence claim should not be regarded as a free service.
Will you take a slice of my compensation?
Under a Conditional Fee Agreement (the type of No Win, No Fee funding arrangement we most commonly offer for professional negligence claims) the winning client pays our costs on an hourly rate basis, along with a success fee.
Fixed legal costs are recoverable from the losing party, and these will be credited against your bill. However, those fixed recoverable costs are unlikely to cover the full amount that will be due.
Success fees (which are not recoverable from the losing party) are calculated as a percentage of the costs incurred.
So, it is likely that if you win your claim you will need to pay from your award of compensation:
- any shortfall on costs; and
- the success fee.
It is impossible to predict at the outset of a case what all these figures will ultimately be. We therefore offer to cap your liability for costs and success fee so that you are guaranteed to receive a minimum percentage of your compensation.
We will explain how No Win, No Fee professional negligence claims work and give you some examples before you decide to go ahead.
The benefits No Win, No Fee funding
The huge attraction of No Win, No Fee funding is that it removes much of the financial risk of litigation, enabling people to pursue a professional negligence claim who wouldn’t otherwise be able to fund an action.
Solicitors are naturally very choosy about the cases they take on under a No Win, No Fee agreement. These cases generally require us to make a huge investment in terms of time and sometimes money, so we need to be confident of winning and recovering our fees. However, legal outcomes can never be guaranteed and cases will from time to time be lost for a variety of reasons. When this happens we will write off the legal fees that have accrued; hence the term, No Win, No Fee.
The value of your claim is also an important factor and we find that professional negligence No Win, No Fee funding only works effectively for claims in excess of £25,000.
What does No Win, No Fee mean for you?
Before entering into a professional negligence No Win, No Fee agreement it’s important to speak to us to make sure you understand what is involved, and importantly what your duties and obligations are under the agreement.
You also need to be aware of your potential liability for your opponent’s entitlement to fixed costs from you if you lose your case, which are not covered by the No Win, No Fee agreement.
We will give you an indication of what those fixed costs could be, and can also offer guidance on insuring against this risk.
Free legal helpline
Take advantage of our free legal helpline to find out more about No Win, No Fee funding and what No Win, No Fee will mean for you.
Contact us now on 0333 888 0403 for a free assessment of your case and whether we can pursue it on a No Win, No Fee basis.