No Win No Fee Arrangements
With the exception of family or criminal matters, many civil claims are eligible for a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA’s), generally known as ‘no win, no fee’.
The most common use of no win no fee arrangements are damages claims for Personal Injury*. This can include injuries arising out of; mishaps on the job road-traffic accidents, faux pas and trips, medical negligence claims and industrial disease claims.
Government figures estimate large numbers individuals in Ireland are injured in injuries every year. Yet, less than a third of these inquire about making a compensation claim. Many don’t understand what a no win no-fee arrangement is, and even more misunderstand the protection it provides and ramifications to you as a customer.
For many years Legal aid for Civil Claims had been roundly criticized because of the qualifying limitation being so low that merely a few were capable to bring claims to the courts. No win no fee was introduced in the Courts and Legal Services Act of 1990 to accompany the legal aid system. CFA’s finally replaced legal aid for all but a few actionable cases (eg medical negligence) in 2000. It’s now the only means to bring a claim to court without funding it in private.
A Solicitor will first evaluate the merits of your claim, When they’re satisfied of the strength of your claim and that the prospects of success are high, they may offer to represent you on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis.
The CFA will require the claimant to pay the Solicitors fees if the case is won, although the fees are normally regained from the losing party. The Solicitor in agreeing to take on your own case under a CFA takes a danger as he is not paid if the claim fails. To motivate Solicitors to take risks they’re eligible for a supplementary fee (a success fee). Again this is paid in whole or part by the losing party.
You will nonetheless, still require financing for your claim to cover the other costs accrued such as your competitor’s Solicitor’s fees, and disbursement costs, (ie court fees, medical reports, barristers fees) should your claim fail. You may have legal expense insurance as part of an present policy or be a part of a Trade Union that would be willing to cover any costs given against you should the claim be unsuccessful.
Most clients will not have this in place, by which case your Solicitor will obtain After-The Event insurance (ATE) for you that will not set you back anything, provided your Solicitor can recover the premium at the conclusion of your claim. The insurer is not going to bill you for the premium where the claim is lost.
You should beware any Solicitor who wants to take a percentage of your compensation (The only exceptions would be when making a claim through the MIB Untraced Driver’s scheme, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or some high risk claims).
After you have a CFA signed and an ATE coverage in place the Solicitor will start acting for you. You’ll be entitled to 100% of your damages although it remains wise to stay alert to the prices spent through the claim by the Solicitor in the function the other side or your ATE policy will not cover them.
Disclaimer: *In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.