In the majority of legal cases, clients will have to pay for their solicitor’s services upfront. However, with a no win no fee agreement, this isn’t the case.
With a conditional fee agreement – the formal arrangement between you and your lawyer – you will proceed on the basis that you won’t have to pay anything unless you win your case.
The history of no win no fee
Introduced in order to give more people the ability to take their cases to court, the no win no fee model has revolutionised the way UK courts hear personal injury claims. They were first introduced into law in 1995 in England and Wales to cover a range of civil court cases.
Speaking in 1998, when no win no fee was extended to cover all civil cases, except those heard in family courts, then parliamentary secretary Geoff Hoon said: “No-win no-fee conditional agreements will result in better access to justice. Access will be given to the many people who fall between those who are very rich or those who are so poor that they qualify for legal aid.”
He added that in the future, “the question of whether one gets one’s case to court will no longer depend on whether one can afford it, but on whether one’s case is a strong one”.
In 2000, the Access to Justice Act came into force, giving judges the ability to force the losing side in a no win no fee case to pay the additional costs. Legal aid for personal injury cases was also abolished, making no win no fee the best option for many people pursuing a claim.
Today, clients taking on a no win no fee agreement will pay for a legal insurance policy and eventually a success fee upon winning their claim. In most cases, this fee is 25%.
Why choose no win no fee?
When you’ve suffered from a personal injury – including medical negligence – you’ll have more important things to think about than how you’re going to fund your claim. Your recovery will likely be at the forefront of your mind. From treatment to whether you’ll get back to work soon, you’ll have plenty to think about.
If you had to proceed with a personal injury claim without the assurance of a no win no fee claim, the worry about funding it may distract you from the more pressing concern of getting your injuries treated. This, in turn, could put you off going ahead with a claim at all.
This means the no win no fee agreement opens up access to justice and means anyone who has suffered an injury is able to address what happened. It gives people the chance to make things right when they’ve gone so wrong that physical harm was sustained.
It shows that legally, no win no fee is a hugely important model. Giving someone with a valid claim the ability to pursue justice is something we need to protect.
Image copyright: Tomasz Żołnierek