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Legal Aid was withdrawn for most personal injury claims to be replaced by "conditional fee agreements" which facilitate no win no fee* claims. This decision was made by central government in order to reduce the burden on the public purse and pass the financial risk of most personal injury litigation over to no win no fee* accident solicitors. Means tested public funding is still available for medical negligence litigation from the Legal Services Commission.

Most personal injury claims are now dealt with by no win no fee* accident solicitors using a conditional fee agreement (CFA). There is a lot of misunderstanding amongst the general public as to what such an arrangement actually means and there is a frequent misconception that there is never any charge to the client. The fact is that solicitors are allowed to charge their clients under a CFA provided that the case is won and the client receives compensation however some legal firms do not make any charge to their clients from the compensation received and rely on the court ordering the defendants insurers to pay some or all of the legal costs of the claimant in addition to any compensation actually awarded.

Our no win no fee* solicitors are personal injury experts who are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority specialist panel. There is no standard CFA and different law firms have different requirements. Most accident cases in which victims are attempting to claim damages for personal injury are handled by compensation solicitors using a 'conditional fee agreement'(CFA) otherwise known as a 'no win no fee*' arrangement. A CFA is entered into by the client and the no win no fee* solicitor whereby the lawyer is only allowed to charge legal costs if the claim is successful and the client is awarded compensation.

no win no fee* - Agreements Vary

The basis of conditional fee agreements is that the no win no fee* accident solicitor is only entitled to be paid a legal fee if the case is won and that payment is usually made by the losers or their insurance company. There are many variations of the basic conditional fee agreement and some no win no fee* solicitors charge their clients a percentage deduction from compensation received and some will expect the client to finance all expenses as the claim proceeds whereas some other solicitors will finance all expenses and make no percentage deduction from compensation. If the case is lost then the solicitor will not be able to charge his legal fees however if the client has paid their own disbursements and expenses then these may also be lost thereby leaving the client out of pocket.

no win no fee* Risk Assessment

If a no win no fee* claim is lost and the client does not receive an award of damages then the compensation solicitor will not be paid and must write off legal costs. The solicitor will only receive payment if the court rules in the clients favour and the solicitor will therefore pay great attention to initial information supplied by the client in an attempt to establish whether or not the claim has a reasonable chance of success sufficient for the solicitor to consider investing his time and money.

Reasonable Chance of Success

For a compensation solicitor to take on a no win no fee* claim it does not have to be watertight. Most no win no fee* solicitors will take on a case using a CFA if it has a reasonable or better than evens chance of success. Some solicitors however are not willing to take any risk and will reject all but the most secure potential cases. Most solicitors will carry out a basic risk assessment before entering into a CFA and for more complicated cases they will make detailed studies and assessments and often ask other lawyers for their opinions on liability and quantum before they decide whether to accept the case or not. It must be remembered that the entire financial risk of a case using a CFA falls on the conducting solicitor.

Win Or Lose No Charge

CFA's came into effect in 1998 when the government stopped funding the Legal Aid Board for personal injury claims with the main exception of medical negligence claims. The basis of a CFA is that a no win no fee* solicitor is only entitled to be paid his legal fees if he wins the case and if he loses, he must write them off and not charge the client. Nothing will be deducted from the compensation and in the unlikely event that the claimant loses the case there is still nothing to pay. (In this case the winning opponent's legal charges are usually paid by legal costs insurance which is taken out and paid for by our solicitors.) If you win your personal injury case, the other side, the losers (or more often their insurers) will not only pay you compensation, but will also pay your legal charges, court expenses, medical report charges and barrister's fees.

Award of Compensation

Our no win no fee* solicitors offer free consultations and at an early stage will give clear advice on whether or not you have a strong case and the likely value of a damages award. There are many different categories of damages that can be claimed including :-

  • loss of current or future earnings and income
  • expenses and costs involved in the repair of your vehicle
  • diminution of the value of your repaired vehicle
  • medical costs and expenses that you have already paid or might pay in future
  • emotional or physical pain and suffering
  • pain and suffering and loss of amenity
  • general losses and expenses

Evidence Preservation

If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault you are legally entitled to make a claim for damages although you must either settle the claim or issue court proceedings within three years of the accident. Keeping a clear head around the turbulence of the aftermath of an accident can be difficult however you should ensure your claim is viable, by collecting detailed evidence as soon as possible. Ensure that you record the particulars of the accident meticulously so that your no win no fee* solicitor may assess whether your potential road traffic accident claim is valid and is sufficiently strong to provide reimbursement and compensation.

Legal Expenses Insurance

As an alternative you may have the benefit of "Legal Expenses Cover" which is a policy of insurance that is mainly sold together with other insurance (with car insurance to cover car related litigation or with house insurance which often covers civil legal action for personal injury claims). If you have this type of insurance to cover your legal costs then you do not need to enter into a no win no fee* claims agreement. If you already have home contents insurance you may find that legal expenses cover is already included and you should carefully check your policy documents. This type of cover is also often included in a policy of motor insurance or is offered as an "add on" for a small fee by your broker and you should check with them to find out if you are covered.

After the Event Insurance

One matter that must be considered when taking legal action in a court of law is what happens if the claimants case is lost. Under normal circumstances the losing side in any court action will be ordered by the court to pay the winners legal costs. If the claimant loses this can be a double blow as not only has the claimant not received the anticipated damages but may also be ordered to pay substantial legal costs. The claimants no win no fee* solicitor deals with this problem by taking out a policy of 'after the event' insurance to cover the claimant against the payment of costs and expenses in the event of a loss. The premium for this policy can be substantial however our no win no fee* accident solicitors do not ask the client to pay for this cover which they fund themselves.

Uninsured Defendants

Almost all cases that lawyers pursue are ones where the proposed defendant is actually insured however in regards to some claims it is still possible to pursue a claim even where the proposed defendant is uninsured. It is possible to get an order for the sale of property or an 'attachment of earnings' order which deducts a proportion of the defendants wages and pays it to the victim which will ensure that the victim is paid in due course.

Fully Financed Claims

Our specialist personal injury solicitors operate throughout the UK. We are not a Claims Management Company and our solicitors will fully finance your claim and will not expect you to contribute or take out any loan or pay for any insurance policy. You may only pay legal charges in the event of a successful outcome followed by an award of damages.

no win no fee* Accident Solicitors

Our no win no fee* accident solicitors offer clear and unambiguous advice on how to proceed with your claim and will give you unbiased information on the chances of your claim succeeding as well as the estimated value your claim. If you would like advice at no cost just use the helpline or complete the contact form and a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of personal injury experts will speak to you on the telephone. This consultation is not charged and you are under no obligation to continue with us if you decide not to do so after speaking with our specialist. You can rest assured that the advice you will be given is professional and complete, coming from specialists experienced in claiming damages for personal injury.



*Legal Information

In the case of CICA claims terms will vary and in the case of MIB claims terms may vary.

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here