Conditional Fee Agreements
Conditional Fee Agreements, or CFAs, are what solicitors usually mean by "no win, no fee agreements". In the agreement itself, we agree that if you lose, we won't charge you for our work.
You also need protection against having to pay your opponent's legal fees and your own disbursements if you lose. Disbursements are the fees we need to pay to other people, such as to a doctor for a medical report on your injuries, or court fees if your case needs to go to court. We can take out insurance for you to cover these.
This means that the CFA covers our fees, and the insurance covers everything else, so you pay nothing if you lose.
If you win your case, your opponent's insurers pay an amount towards your legal fees. This amount is often a fixed fee set by law, so although sometimes it will cover everything, more often it does not. If it doesn't, we agree to limit the total legal costs to you*, including the cost of the insurance, to 25% of your damages, or 35% if you need us to pay your disbursements for you during the course of the case.
These percentages are caps, so if the total costs are less, you pay the lower amount. In addition, we only charge that percentage against your compensation for your injuries and past financial losses. In bigger cases where there is a claim for future losses, those future losses are likely to be for important things like medical costs or long-term loss of income. We don't believe damages for future losses should be eaten away by legal fees.
During the case we will have to incur fees charged by others, for example fees for medical reports or court fees. We will be able to claim these back for you at the end of the case, either from your opponent if you win, or the insurance if you lose. However, sometimes the providers require their fees to be paid before the case ends. If that happens, you can choose to pay these yourself. Often your opponent can be required to pay an early payment towards your eventual damages and legal costs, known as an interim payment, and this can be used to fund your disbursements.
If you fund these fees either from your own pocket or from interim payments, our maximum fee to you will be 25% of your damages. If you ask us to fund your disbursements for you instead, our maximum fee will be 35% of your damages.
Most solicitors who do personal injury cases offer CFAs. Most limit a certain part of their charges, known as the "success fee" to 25% of the damages, which is the maximum permitted by law. We limit our success fee to 25%, but we also limit our total legal costs to you* (including the cost of the insurance and the difference between our charges and the costs payable by your opponent) to 25%, or 35% if you ask us to fund your disbursements. Solicitors who do not offer that wider limit can potentially charge you for the cost of the insurance and any shortfall of costs not payable by your opponent in addition to the 25%, making their fees quite open-ended.
With our no win, no fee agreement, you know that if you lose you pay nothing, and if you win you pay a maximum of 25% or 35% of your damages, depending on who you decide funds your disbursements during the case.
* The "total legal costs to you" means the amount you are required to pay out of your damages, after any payment of legal costs by your opponent.
Contingency Fee Agreements
Most cases involve claiming compensation from a person or company whose insurance will be meeting your claim, and paying towards your legal fees. However, in some cases such as claims for hit and run accidents made to the Motor Insurers' Bureau, or for assaults made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, there is nobody to sue, and you are just claiming money from a body which covers these claims.
These bodies are required to pay either no legal costs, or only a limited amount. There are not usually any court proceedings. Because of this, and to ensure the legal costs you pay are in proportion to your damages, we charge a fixed percentage of your damages under a Contingency Fee Agreement. Our usual percentage is 35% including VAT, plus any disbursements (fees paid to others, such as for medical reports).