Sometime ago in the UK the government abolished legal aid for Personal Injury and Medical Negligence claims. It was hoped that this measure would stem the tsunami of claims for compensation in the UK. However, as a result most accident cases are now funded on a No Win, No Fee agreement. At first sight, this seemed like a good idea. The solicitor will back you if you have a good case. If you have little chance of winning, why should the taxpayer pay?
If you lose your claim, of course, your solicitors will not be paid at all. So, the question is just how can solicitors afford to work for nothing? The answer is that solicitors have to be fairly certain that they are going to win the case and will shy away from taking cases that they in all probability will lose.
If you are considering a No Win No Fee agreement for a Personal Injury or Medical Negligence claim you should be aware that some No Win, No Fee Agreements only will cover your solicitor’s fees. There may be costs that are not covered might include medical expert fees, Barrister’s fees or the costs of the other side’s solicitors as they defend your claim. These costs can be very onerous.
You should be aware of a hidden fee situation. Hidden fee can occur when your solicitor advises you to drop a case, because they are not sure of winning and you chose to take your claim for Personal Injury or Medical Negligence with another different solicitor. If your second solicitor wins the case, then you may then find yourself liable to pay fees to both the original solicitor and your new solicitor.
You may also get stung for more fees if your solicitor advises acceptance of a settlement offer but the claimant refuses or if you decide to settle out of court contrary to the your solicitor’s recommendation or if you refuse to co-operate with your solicitor in some other way or the other side is ordered to pay costs but cannot afford to. So you have to be careful and you need to fully understand the No Win No Fee agreement before signing it.
In conjunction with the Conditional Fee Agreement, most solicitors will require you to take out an After the Event or or what is known as ATE insurance policy before they start work on the case. If you are not covered by ATE insurance and the claim is unsuccessful, then you will have to pay the defendant’s costs. So it is very advisable that you take out the insurance policy but be fully aware that with any insurance policy, the cost of ATE insurance for a given claim can vary enormously between solicitors as they may be tied to one insurance company so that it may be difficult to obtain a competitive price for the ATE policy.
In conclusion yes you can get out but it may be costly. Better to make sure your No win No fee agreement is suitable for your claim.