Christopher Burgon on 12 Things You Need To Know About “No Win, No Fee” Agreements
1. The proper name for a “No Win, No Fee” agreement is a Conditional Fee Agreement (“CFA”).
2. If you want to claim a small amount of damages arising from what solicitors call “tripping and slipping claims”; falling over raised paving stones and similar incidents, CFA’s are simple and easy. If your case is more complicated, CFA’s are not so simple or so easy.
3. To find a solicitor who will provide you with a CFA, you will need to have a case that has a “good” chance of success. That is, a better than 50% chance of success.
4. In all but the simplest of cases a certain amount of work will be required to establish whether or not your claim is likely to succeed. Who is to bear the costs of this initial work needs to be agreed with your solicitor.
5. A solicitor will require that you take out an “After The Event” insurance policy to provide cover for the possibility that you may not win your case (There are NO guarantees in litigation). The insurance policy will require a substantial premium to be paid. Sometimes insurers will agree to defer payment of the premium to the end of the case, sometimes not.
6. To obtain an After The Event insurance policy you will need an opinion from a barrister. How the barrister is to be paid needs to be agreed.
7. If you have:
◦ A case your solicitor has determined has a good chance of success.
◦ A written opinion from a barrister to support this view.
◦ An After The Event insurance policy in place,
you will still need to agree the terms of your CFA with your solicitor. A solicitor can agree to defer payment of all of his costs until the end of the case or he may agree to defer only part of his costs.
8. Your solicitor will also need to find a barrister who will also act under a separate CFA. If he is unable to, you will have to pay the barrister’s fees as the case progresses.
9. If you need evidence from experts such as surveyors or accountants to support your case, they are often unwilling to defer payment of their fees. If this is the case these fees will have to be paid as the case progresses.
10. Under a CFA as the financial risk is being borne by the insurance company and/or the solicitor, if an offer to settle comes in from the other side it is your insurers and solicitors who choose whether or not to accept that offer, not you.
11. Litigation can be time consuming and emotionally very difficult, this is not changed by a CFA.
12. CFA’s can provide a way for you to pursue a legitimate action and get the justice you deserve if you do not have the financial resources usually required to do so. It is important to instruct a committed solicitor who is willing to share the risk of your case with you. I am always open to running cases on CFA’s and would be happy to speak to you if this is of interest.
Please contact me on 020 7632 4300 or click here to email me.