Why is it Free
Many people mistakenly assume that they will have to pay a proportion of their compensation award to their solicitor if their claim is successful, but No Win No Fee doesn’t work in that way. Cases are taken on according to their merit, so a person wishing to pursue a claim that, in the professional opinion of a qualified solicitor, stands no chance of being successful, would be advised that the claim is not worth pursuing. If, however, the claim looks to have a reasonable chance of success based on the facts, a no win no fee lawyer is likely to take on the case. This works to prevent the courts becoming clogged with frivolous claims that are not in the interests of justice. Here’s how it works.
No Win No Fee is the term commonly used for a Conditional Fee Agreement. These agreements were introduced in 1995, when legal aid became unavailable for personal injury cases. The system is fairer than the legal aid system, as it looks at the merit of the case rather than the financial means of the client. Consequently, those who would have had no access to the courts due to lack of funds can now seek justice and anyone, regardless of means, can ask a solicitor to take on their personal injury case on a no win no fee basis. This is particularly important where the party being sued has considerably more means at their disposal than the claimant.
The basic premise of a conditional fee arrangement is that, win or lose, the claimant will not have to pay their own solicitor. In the event of a successful claim, the solicitor is able to claim their fee from the losing party, as well as an extra amount, known as a success fee. The claimant is entitled to keep the maximum amount of their compensation as well as being reimbursed for other costs incurred as a result of the injury, such as medical bills. Other costs, known as disbursements, which can include such items as medical reports or court fees, should also be paid by the losing party. It must be clear, however, that losing a claim will leave the claimant liable to pay the costs of the other side. An insurance premium, known as ‘after the event’ insurance, is usually advisable as it covers just this eventually, thus preventing the claimant from being financially damaged by an unsuccessful claim. The claimant’s solicitor would not receive their fee in the event of being unsuccessful.
No Win No Fee solicitors are experienced enough in this area to be able to ascertain the likelihood of success based on the facts of a case. As it is not in their interests to pursue a case that is unlikely to succeed, clients can rest assured that they will not be encouraged to pursue a case that will leave them financially exposed. The system works not only to improve access to justice, but to keep the court system free from unnecessary cases that have the effect of slowing down justice for the more deserving.