In the claims industry, most agreements are ‘no win, no fee’. No win, no fee stipulates that the claimant doesn’t have to pay legal fees upfront. With many other types of legal service, such as solicitor’s services for moving house and arranging a mortgage, you do.
So how do claims solicitors get paid?
Your solicitor will take their fee out of the compensation that you are awarded. Legally, this can be up to 25% of the value of a claim, but most solicitors typically charge less than 20%. It is your solicitor’s responsibility to inform you of all costs related to their services and to provide you with a clear bill that breaks down those costs. If at any point you are unclear about the costs associated with your legal services, you should query your solicitor.
What happens if my claim doesn’t win, then?
If your claim solicitors don’t win your case, they won’t get paid. You will not have to pay your solicitor’s fees. However, you may be billed by the defendant for their costs, including their own solicitor’s fees. And so the cost to yourself could be just as high as if you paid your legal fees upfront in the first place. This is why most law firms will recommend that you take out an insurance policy that covers you in the event that your claim is unsuccessful.
Breaking down solicitor’s fees
There are many different types of work that solicitors do, however you will be billed for either or a combination of contentious work (court work) and non-contentious work (work that has not involved the courts). For either, your solicitor should send you either a brief summary of costs or a bill containing detailed items. If you get the latter, you may request a bill containing detailed items within three months of your claim outcome.
If your case wins, then commonly these bills are covered by the other side.
Another fee to be aware of is the success fee. The success fee is an extra amount you pay your solicitor – it is this fee that’s taken from the compensation you are awarded. Be sure to query your solicitor before you sign any agreement on their success fee, to find out what percentage of your financial compensation they will be awarded. If you are unhappy with the percentage proposed, you are under no obligation to proceed with that claims solicitor.
Other expenses to be aware of
Some but not all no win, no fee agreements cover the following: accident report fees, official searches, court fees and travel expenses. These fees can be expensive, so make sure you know what you are getting into before you sign any legally binding agreement.