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No Win No Fee – when can I be charged?

No win no fee is a widely used promise by personal injury lawyers – but do you know what it actually means in terms of how you can be charged, if at all?

A “No Win No Fee” is commonly the basis of your entire legal agreement so it is important to know exactly what you are getting into. For a little advice on what it means in relation to when you may actually be charged, read on!

The basics of a No Win no Fee

Another name that lawyers use for the no win, no fee is a document called the ‘Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)‘ which is usually included in the initial paperwork you have with a law firm. The idea behind no win, no fee is an easy one – if the case is unsuccessful then there are no bills for you to pay. So you won’t be charged for your lawyer’s legal fees or the disbursements that they have spent on your case (such as medical reports or barristers fees). Seems simple enough right?

But when is a case successful? A case is successful when either you are awarded compensation by the courts or if your case is settled outside of court. Settlement is when you reach an agreed figure with the Defendant that they agree to pay you for your injuries and losses. So if your case loses at court or your lawyers are forced to discontinue your claim because there are no prospects, then the claim is usually determined as unsuccessful and there should be no fee.

Circumstances when “no win no fee” means there may be fees to pay!

The Conditional Fee Agreements of individual law firms can vary, but typical they usually contain the below provisions of when you can be charged for your lawyers legal fees and disbursements, regardless of whether your case has been unsuccessful. These are:

Cancelling your instructions

If you want to cancel your claim with your solicitors then that is usually a breach of the agreement and the law firm has the right to charge you for the work carried out on your case up until the point of cancellation. This can be very expensive and is often counter intuitive. If you are unsure of making a claim but you have already started then you may as well continue as you have the benefit of the No Win No Fee in place.

Failure to co-operate/ provide instructions.

If you fail to give instructions to your solicitor either by refusing to provide information or simply not responding then that is a breach of the agreement. As a result you can be charged for the work done on the case.

Acting contrary to advice

For example, imagine you have been made a settlement offer and your lawyers advise you that this is a very reasonable offer and should be accepted, because there is real risk that if you go to court that you will be awarded less than the offer, or that your case is likely to lose. You have been given very sound and reasonable advice. But if you decide that you want to have your day in court then you have every right to do so, but your lawyers may not be able to proceed on the No Win No Fee basis as they have advised you against that course of action and explained the heavy risks involved. To go against the advice in such a way could cost the firm a substantial amount of money that they would not be able to claim back. In that case the law firm may continue with the claim, but if the case is unsuccessful, look to charge you for legal fees.

Fundamental dishonesty

If it is found that you have been dishonest (for example, lying about the circumstances or playing up your injuries) then your lawyers are usually entitled to terminate the agreement immediately and charge you for all the work that they have done on the case. Essentially here you are being fraudulent, and a law firm will not usually stand for that. You may read this and think “how dare my lawyers think I could be lying about my claim” and you could be right to do so, as it isn’t a nice thing. Unfortunately though it does happen and if you are ‘caught out’ then you need to know there are consequences.

So long as you see your claim through to the end, are open and honest with your solicitor and heed the advice of the personal injury experts who are dealing with your case, your claim should proceed without any issue. If your claim is unfortunately unsuccessful then you and your lawyers can part ways amicably, and the no win, no fee should stand true. This means you should not be charged.

What to do next!

Call us [insert_php] echo($_SESSION[‘tel’]); [/insert_php], for instant advice on whether you have a no win no fee claim to make!

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IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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