No Win No Fee Explained


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By Crispin Bateman

on Monday 4 March 2019


Lawyer with client discussing terms and conditions

Being involved in an accident that was not your fault can be devastating. The day before, your life was going on as usual and then something happens that completely changes everything for you – you may not be able to work for a while, your car might be destroyed, your family injured, worry, stress, fear.

And none of it was your fault.

The idea that the negligence and poor choices of others can ruin your life is desperately unfair and in the UK, the law is set up to do what it can to alleviate that impact. Ideally, you should be put back to the position you were in before the accident occurred – for example, any damage done to your car should be repaired, any possessions destroyed should be replaced etc. However, many things cannot simply be ‘undone’ and so the law allows you to claim for financial recompense to offset any financial loss, pain and suffering you have had to endure.

This is called compensation.

The problem with claiming for compensation can be the costs of doing so. Lawyers that fight your side need to be paid for their work, research assistants put in hours of time collating information to outline the case, even the front-line advisors who help you understand your potential for a claim – it all costs money.

For many people, even if they are 100% sure that they are deserving of many thousands of pounds worth of compensation, the sheer up-front costs of building a case and then fighting for it are beyond their resources.

What they need is someone who is willing to listen to them and help. A law firm who will take on the risk of the case without needing any money up-front.

A no win no fee personal injury lawyer.

The essence of No Win No Fee accident claims

The concept behind no win no fee (NWNF) is simple:

  • You get the legal support you need without needing to pay anything upfront.
  • If the case loses, you do not need to pay a penny.
  • If the case wins, you share the success by paying a percentage of the compensation award to the no win no fee solicitors who worked hard on your case.

The no win no fee lawyers take on the risk for you. They put their time, resources and business at your disposal in the belief that your case is going to come through and then when it does, you reap the rewards together. It’s a collaborative process where the person working with you on proving your claim to the court is as invested into its success as much as you are.

Really, it’s a win-win situation for anyone who has a personal injury claim to make.

No win no fee definition – the conditional fee agreement

Of course, there’s some technical watertight legal paperwork that ties the NWNF agreement together. This is called the Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA.

The CFA sets out the terms of the agreement between you and the NWNF personal injury lawyers. It details the percentage of the final success fee, plus covers in full the fact that you will not be called upon to pay any of the lawyers’ costs.

What happens if you lose a no win no fee claim?

Personal injury lawyers have absolutely no intention of ever losing a NWNF claim – after all, with their fortunes tied in with yours, there’s no benefit to losing at all.

The best NWNF solicitors are incredibly meticulous about understanding every aspect of your case before they take it on. For most, unless they fully believe that they will win the case, they will be unwilling to represent you as a client.

In a way, this is good – the simple fact that a NWNF company is willing to take you on to claim compensation for your road traffic accident injuries, accident at work, or medical negligence incident, means that they believe 100% that it is going to win. That assurance alone is typically enough to spur you forward.

Unfortunately, advantages and disadvantages to the system come hand-in-hand and if your claim isn’t completely watertight you may find yourself unable to find a NWNF compensation lawyer willing to take on your case. Even a case with a 70-80% certainty of success might struggle to get the support it needs.

There is one no-win-no-fee pitfall that can cause worry if you lose:

While your legal team will not charge you for their services, you may be forced to pay costs for the defendant if you lose.

Thankfully, this is easily overcome with after-the-event insurance.

What is after-the-event insurance? How does it prevent the NWNF danger of other costs?

After-the-event insurance is a third-party insurance that you can purchase through your personal injury solicitors that provides protection from legal costs should you lose the case. It is a single up-front payment that means the insurance company will cover any costs issued by the court for the defendant.

Usually, when they discuss with you, your NWNF solicitors will recommend the purchase of an after-the-event policy and they can help you with this.

Do all solicitors charge a success fee? What percentage do solicitors take?

The success fee is the core to the NWNF agreement. Without this financial reward for the personal injury lawyer company, there’s little reason for them to undertake the significant risk that is being asked of them.

It is easy to believe that the success fee will lower the amount of compensation you will take home after the entire process is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, but actually the opposite is sometimes true.

Take, for example, a complicated compensation road traffic accident claim with many separate sections to it:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering from your injury
  • Compensation for mental anguish and stress
  • Loss of earnings due to time off work
  • Medical expenses
  • Costs of rehabilitation and after care
  • Damage done to the vehicle
  • The costs for a replacement vehicle
  • Loss of additional property in the crash (the contents of the boot, the loss of a tank of fuel, etc.)
  • Travel and other expenses on the day of the crash

If you were to undertake this claim yourself without representation, or with poor representation, then even if you were successful (and paying any costs on the way), you might be able to reach a settlement of £10,000 (an example figure only).

Yet, with top-quality representation from our no win no fee personal injury lawyers at Non-Fault Claims, the total compensation award could be as much as twice that due to our diligence and experience, reaching £20,000.

Now, even with a success fee of the maximum-allowed 25%, the end amount paid into your bank in the second example would be £15,000 – 50% more than the same claim made through poor or no representation.

By UK law, 25% is the maximum success fee that can be charged on a personal injury claim, and it is standard across the industry to see most personal injury lawyers request this amount in their conditional fee agreements. At Non-Fault Claims, we will negotiate a success fee percentage that you are comfortable with, so do talk to us regarding the final fee before your case is finalised.

What’s the catch with NWNF solicitors? What surprises might mean paying fees?

There are four situations where you may find yourself paying fees to your personal injury lawyer, despite the no win no fee aspect of the conditional fee arrangement:

Cancelling a no win no fee claim

You have 14 days to cancel your NWNF agreement without penalty but cancelling after this time is likely to incur a fee to cover the time and money lost by the lawyers.

Failure to communicate or co-operate

If you fail to respond to communication, become unavailable or a hindrance in the process then your claim may be cancelled, and you will be liable for fees incurred in the process so far. Remember, your personal injury lawyers are trying to work on your behalf and need to be able to rely on your fluid and open communication throughout the case.

Acting contrary to advice

Should you have received solid advice from your lawyer, and you choose to ignore it, then you will be in breach of your contract and subject to costs that have been incurred. The main example of this is if your personal injury lawyer team believe that an offer that has been extended is a good one and should be accepted and you ignore this advice from a wish to fight for a higher offer and are later rejected in court – you will be responsible for covering the costs incurred as well as potentially the value of the success fee that would have been obtained.

Lying or providing false information

It is imperative that you are completely truthful throughout the process. If you lie, exaggerate or provide false information to your personal injury team then you will be in breach of contract and expected to pay fees for work done to that point. If your solicitors believe you have lied to make your injuries seem more significant than they are, then they are in their rights to terminate the contract. Always be completely honest.

Why use Non-Fault Claims? Do you deal only with no win no fee car accident claims?

At Non-Fault Claims, we do specialise in NWNF car accident claims, although our team of experienced solicitors undertake many cases that have nothing to do with road traffic accidents, from industrial disease accident claims, medical negligence and more. If you have suffered from a personal injury that is not road-traffic related, we are still able to provide our top-quality service to get you the compensation you deserve.

Our focus on road traffic accident compensation claims however, means we can offer a number of additional services that other NWNF lawyers cannot supply. This includes providing like-for-like replacement cars to get you on the road while your own car is in repair, a faster claim turnaround with major car insurance companies, no-claims bonus protection, a seamless level of communication with leasing companies and more.

Contact Non-Fault Claims today and speak with one of our expert advisors with any questions, whether they are for more detail regarding now NWNF works, or to initiate a claim following a car accident you have been involved in that was not your fault.

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