“No win no fee” is one of those phrases which we hear almost daily in conversation or in the media.
When no win no fee was introduced in 1995, they were seen as a way of keeping justice available to all and levelling the playing field, taking income out of the equation.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that most no-win no fee agreements do include a clause allowing solicitors to charge a cash price if the client fails to cooperate with the claim e.g if the claim looks a strong one but, regardless of the strength of the legal case, for one reason or another, the client decides not to go ahead. This basic concept has not been changed since no win no fee was introduced in the Nineties, but there have been a number of amendments to the way the system works over the years.
In the early days of no win no fee back in 1995 a solicitor would not get paid at all if the case was lost. Simple as that. If they won and the claimant was paid a sum in compensation, then the solicitor would take as their fees a percentage of the sum awarded as the fee. In 1999 this arrangement was changed under the Access to Justice Act, to having the losing side paying the legal fees. This meant that even if you didn’t have to pay your own solicitor under a no win no fee agreement, you would still have to pay the other side’s legal fees and expenses. These fees were usually covered by a special policy taken out to insure against this risk.
April 2013 changes
The latest changes to no win no fee came about in April 2013, and again changed the way legal costs are covered with both successful and unsuccessful claims.
These changes now cap, or limit, the success fee taken out of the compensation which the client is awarded, at 25% of the total amount. This means that solicitors are still allowed to advertise that they work on a no win no fee basis, but, they choose to claim the success fee back from the client,, are no longer allowed to say that a successful claimant will get 100% of the compensation which they are awarded. If a claim is lost there will be no compensation, but the “after the event” insurance should ensure there are no legal fees to pay either.
The best person to talk to about the changes to Conditional Fee Arrangements and how they might affect you is your solicitor. They will be able to offer you detailed advice and guidance on your specific case, and give you an idea on how the changes would affect your compensation claim whether you win or lose.
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